CLARION – Three years after the release of its first original game, “Wild: Northeastern North America,” local company, Two Sisters in the Wild, LLC, has introduced a second in its line of educational card games.
Young game creators, Clarion-Limestone students and sisters, Athia and Maia Strohm of Corsica have once again used their interest in ecosystems to create their newest game “EDGE of EXTINCTION: The Educational Trading Card Game,” an educational trading card game revolving around wildlife.
According to the website, the object of Edge of Extinction is to build ecosystems comprised of a variety of different wildlife species with the goal of accumulating more points than your opponent at the end of 10 rounds. While players begin with any of the starter packs based on four area environments — including the Allegheny National Forest, Appalachian Homestead, Clarion River and Peat Bogs of the Allegheny Front — game cards can be traded to create custom decks that win more often than starter decks.
“Natural associations are used in the deck building process, [and] strategy and critical thinking is required during gameplay,” the website states. “Almost by accident, [players] build a greater understanding of wildlife and how everything in nature connects.”
“Edge of Extinction is most definitely a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program game,” the girls’ father, Jason Strohm, recently added. He noted that while “Wild” was designed for players ages 6 through 10, Edge of Extinction is more suitable for players aged 10 and above. “STEM has become such a popular program in recent years, especially with girls.”
Athia and Maia Strohm explained that the concept for Edge of Extinction came in the form of feedback from players of the first game who suggested the girls create a type of trading card game.
“They said we needed something newer and something that kids could relate too,” Maia Strohm explained, pointing to the increasing popularity of other trading games such as Magic and Pokemon.
With the idea in mind, the girls spent the next couple years researching and playing with different game designs to see what worked best. Similar to the original game, Athia and Maia themselves took most of the photographs of the animals, fungi, plants and more that appear on the 63 full-color flash cards in each Edge of Extinction starter deck.
The 2015 collection and the first four starter decks of Edge of Extinction were completed in September 2015. When it was ready for distribution, Two Sisters in the Wild built a Kickstarter campaign.
A second successful Kickstarter was launched in January 2016, shortly followed by the release of the 2016 collection and four more starter decks that September — Denali, Santa Monica Bay Area, Quiet Creek Herb Farm and Mammoth Cave National Park Area.
“Creating this game has been such an amazing ride for the girls,” Jason Strohm said, adding that the need for research and photographs for the game resulted in several family trips not only in state but across the country as well. “They do a lot of the research themselves and are gaining a lot of experience that will hopefully help them later in life.”
Although she admitted that creating a new game requires a lot of research, time and the patience to play the game over and over again until the rules are just right, Athia Strohm said that seeing other people enjoy the finished product makes it all worth it.
“It’s so surreal to see people playing our games,” she said, noting that she and her sister have also learned valuable lessons about small business development and money management along the way. “It’s really cool when all the pieces come together.”
Used frequently as a classroom tool, Jason Strohm said that Edge of Extinction is currently being utilized by students in 100 educational facilities in western Pennsylvania and across the country.
“Many local schools have incorporated the game into their classrooms,” he noted.
In fact, more than 60 students in grades 3 through 9 from six area school districts — including Clarion, Keystone, Brookville, Cranberry, Titusville and Oil City — gathered earlier this month at Clarion University to compete in the first-ever multi-school Edge of Extinction tournament.
Held in the multi-purpose room inside the university’s Gemmell Student Complex, the tournament was organized by the gifted teachers in Intermediate Unit 6 with the help of university professor Jesse Haight.
Tournament organizers Hollie Tainton, gifted coordinator at Titusville, and Gayle Mitchell, gifted support at Cranberry, explained that they were first introduced to Edge of Extinction during a quarterly meeting last winter at IU6, when Jason Strohm brought the game for them to play and introduced the idea of organizing a tournament.
“We’ve done tournament styles before so it wasn’t that far of a leap,” Tainton said.
She explained that with the help of Clarion University, each of the participating districts was given eight decks of starter packs so the students could practice leading up to the tournament. Tournament participants were required to use the four local starter packs and could not customize their decks for their advantage over an opponent in any of the three rounds played.
“It’s a very educational game,” Tainton said of Edge of Extinction, explaining that in order to be successful in the game, students have play cards to create an ecosystem that’s able to sustain organisms. “The students enjoyed playing with cards depicting the animals and plants they recognize and see in everyday life.”
“The kids absolutely love it,” Mitchell agreed of Edge of Extinction, noting that her students had never participated in a science-based tournament before.
Jason Strohm said the tournament went “beautifully” and credited the high school and college educators for its success.
“I’m very proud of all the schools that were involved,” he said.
Looking into the future, Jason Strohm continued that he would like to see Edge of Extinction used in even more schools, and eventually become a statewide tournament.
“I hope to take what we learned at this tournament and provide it for other Intermediate Units across the state,” Jason Strohm said, adding that he would also like to create a curriculum that would help more schools implement the card game, as well as a free digital version of the game for educators. “We’re just going to let it grow.”
While Edge of Extinction is available for purchase at several national parks around the country, the game can be purchased locally at C.S.A. & Company toy store in Brookville, Michelle’s Cafe in Clarion, Parkers Indian Trading Post in Cooksburg and online at www.twosistersinthewild.com.