Villanova Professor Turned Board Game Creator

Katie Formato, Staff Writer

Board games are significant parts of our lives. Whether played with family or friends, they are great activities that can be enjoyed by all. There are so many board games in our lives that we grew up playing, but new ones are always being created. 


Recently, Villanova’s Handyman University professor, Mike Ellis, created two board games called Slanguage and Fruzzle. 


“Slanguage has some elements from a series of books I had published, titled Slanguage,” Ellis said.


Ellis created the board games on his own, but he received feedback from his students on how to improve the games and make them more fun and challenging for the players. 


“The goal of slanguage is to learn and say slanguage phrases while moving round a game board,” Ellis said. “Slanguage can be regional, colloquial or sport related.” Secondly, the goal of Fruzzle “is to have fun learning fractions while moving around a game board.” 


The games require two teams of at least four players per team. 


To showcase his board games to students and faculty, Ellis met with the administration of Nova Entrepreneurial College. They worked together to create an event for students to test Ellis’ games. The events occurred at 7:30 p.m. on April 7th and April 27th, where students played the two game boards and discussed game coding. The event was held at The Idea Lab in the Basement of the Falvey Library, which is part of The Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. It lasted about one hour and thirty minutes, but Ellis added that “if you play with two dice and three teams, a round can be played in about an hour.” 


When Ellis spoke with people at the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE), they had mentioned that “game testing would be a nice way to share [his] work and give the students experience while having fun. They introduced me to The Game Testing student group, and we arranged a meeting.” 


To share the news to more students, the event was publicized in “Campus Currents” and “The Wildcat Newswire.”


At the event, students were able to play the games and provide feedback on how to improve the game. Ellis said some feedback he received was about “logic, timing, strategy and content.”


Ellis described the games as “pretty loud and very interactive.” He mentioned that it is great for students because “team building is important to win.”


According to Ellis, the events were a huge success. The students had an amazing time playing the games and it was a great way for everyone to come together. 


At the first event there were about ten attendees, three who will be in Ellis’ Handyman University class in the fall semester. 


“Testing will continue,” Ellis said. “It inspires me to create more content.” 


In the Handyman University class in the fall, Ellis has added different activities for students to partake in, including game testing and team building.


“Maybe I will create and sell a game board pdf,” Ellis said about the possible future of the game.


To learn more about the event or the IIE program, visit the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship on the Villanova Website.