The past few months of home confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic have reacquainted many of us with the world of family entertainment. One can only “Netflix and chill” for so long before one goes crazy! Many of us have rediscovered the fun of puzzles, board games, and other ways to combine learning and fun. I was delighted to learn about The Great Events and wanted to share this cool project with you so that you can consider backing it to help it come to fruition. Today, I’m featuring a conversation with the game’s founder Rick Rotondi. I’ve long known Rick as a creative force who uses his love for his faith to bring awesome new ideas to market.
Please briefly introduce us to yourself and your ongoing ministry.
I’m Rick Rotondi, a Catholic publishing vet and founder of Cenacle, a startup media company bringing history, literature, and the Bible to life. Our first project was Messiah, an 8 part series on the Bible and early Church (whose September release you very kindly covered!). Our newest project is a history game called the Great Events.
What is the Great Events and how did you come up with the idea?
The Great Events is a collection of cards that catalog key moments of history in multiple categories and decks. The dates are shown only on the backs. This allows players to explore history in lots of fun ways.
Deal out 8 cards and choose the two that are closest in time. Go around the table and try to place cards in chronological order, without looking at the backs. Moms and families with young kids can even play simple games of “War” or “High Date Wins.”
Playing in this way encourages not just rote memorization, but seeing and absorbing connections between historical events, how one gives rise to others.
I first started working on what would become the Great Events almost twenty years ago. I’ve loved history since my childhood in France, where history is just in the air. I want to share that love with the Great Events.Check out the new @GreatEventsGame that promises to be an awesome learning pastime for families, friends and groups! #history #cardgame #cultural literacy Click To Tweet
How can people become involved in the project through the Kickstarter campaign and why is this involvement important to the project?
For a small business like Cenacle, launching a product line is daunting. Are there enough others like me who love history and fear it’s being lost? Will they spend$35 to learn and play the Great Events?...or even pledge $1 or $2 as an expression of support? Kickstarter is a great way to find out! If I get 400 “yesses” by the end of July, that will provide confirmation of my “Great Events” inspiration…and funds to print.
What do you hope individuals and families will gain from the Great Events?
The Great Events is a fun way to gather and learn about history. I expect it will spark a lot of laughter and friendly competition, plus dining room table conversations, Wikipedia lookups, and Google searches on the different events.
These gatherings and conversations about history are simple and natural things. But they don’t always happen naturally. It’s very easy today to let our reading and conversations be dominated by the news cycle, and forget about the “Great Events” of the past. And of course, there’s also a movement today to despise the past, rather than looking at it — warts and all — with what I call a “hermeneutic of gratitude.”I hope the Great Events is a corrective to that. I hope it builds us up as a people, reminding us of the ways that we’ve cheered, mourned, prayed, and laughed together. A nation needs a common culture. The Great Events is my contribution to that.
You have an option for parishes and organizations who’d like a personalized version of the product. Please share about that initiative.
The “secret sauce” of the Great Events is the ability to convey the story of history in just a few hundred sentences, printed on various cards.
The cards are simple and easy-to-use. But I assure you, it takes a lot of trial and error to provide such a rich amount of information in so small a space! Pascal once wrote to a correspondent his letter would have been shorter if he had more time. With the Great Events, we’ve taken the time. We’ve learned how to present history in a brief, intuitive, engaging, and powerful way.
We want to use the process we developed for world history for more specific histories too. We’re planning Great Events decks for cities, shrines, sports teams, colleges, churches, and more. I know from board and advisory work how often organizations want to publish an organizational history or even documentary — and what a challenge these are to create. The Great Events makes it easy. In 90 days, we can create a custom deck that tells the story of an organization in 50 or so Great Events. It’s faster, cheaper, and more engaging than a book — and I believe more effective at building community and passing on culture.
What other thoughts or comments would you like to share?
Lisa, thanks so much for this opportunity! And Catholic Moms, if you share my love for history and fear it’s being lost, please preorder our first three decks on Kickstarter here. You are in the trenches every day transmitting knowledge of the Greatest Event that ever happened (John 3:16). You are the very best!
Images courtesy of Rick Rotondi, The Great Events. Used with permission.