Archive for Thursday, January 23, 2003

De Soto girl makes most of playing cat and mouse

January 23, 2003

Elise Veach has game.

Those who think themselves equal to her gamemanship can either test their knowledge against the 7-year-old De Soto resident or play the board game she designed for University Games.

During her family's vacation to Disneyland in April 2001, Elise saw a contest announcement for a chance to design a new children's game for the University Games company. Elise, daughter of Vince and Lori Veach, said she wanted to do it because it sounded like fun and she loved to draw.

Each contestant was asked to conceptualize, construct and write a set of rules and instructions for a board game without adult assistance. Parents were only allowed to help write the rules, Lori said.

Lori said the contest seemed like a diverting activity.

"We thought it would be kind of fun as a summer project for Elise," she said.

After making the decision to enter the contest, Elise had to come up with a concept for her game. She settled on cats after evaluating many options.

"I was thinking about a lot of things I liked, and one of the things I liked was cats," she said.

Elise knew her game would focus on cats and items associated with them, but it was not until after she named the game that everything fell into place.

"I was like mouse this, mouse that, then I was like mouse round-up, and that was it," Elise said.

The game features four cat game pieces dressed in cowboy attire that are moved around the game board in an attempt to lasso and capture five mice from the haystack. Obstacles on the board, such as the "alley cat," create excitement during the game.

Lori was impressed by her daughter's efforts.

"It was really cute," she said.

Elise's favorite part of the original game was the homemade mice.

"The mice were cute, because I made them out of beans with corn ears and a bean body and a little paper tail," she said.

She sent in her final entry in August 2001, and Dec. 15, 2001. The Veach household received a phone call Dec. 15, 2001 congratulating Elise on her victory.

Lori shared in Elise's excitement.

"It was just too much," Lori said. "We just called people all day."

In addition to the production of "Mouse Round-Up," Elise received a $10,000 U.S. Savings Bond, a trip for four to San Francisco, 50 complementary copies of her game, and a collection of other games produced by University Games.

Elise finally saw the final product in October 2002, when she, along with her father, mother and brother, flew to San Francisco for the awards ceremony. She was pleased with the ultimate outcome.

"I was pretty happy," Elise said.

However, that was not the end of the thrills. Before her trip to California, Elise was e-mailed a set of questions by University Games. She was supposed to complete as many as she could and bring her answers to the awards ceremony.

Elise answered the questions on her flight, but was uncertain of their purpose, Lori said.

"We didn't know what they were up to, really," Lori said.

To the Veaches' excitement, University Games had decided to feature Elise as one of their "experts" in a new game they were creating called Beat the Expert.

"It was almost like winning (the contest)," Elise said. "I was excited."

Beat the Expert is a game where the players answer a series of questions asked to certain experts like football legend Steve Young and TV scientist Bill Nye the Science Guy. The object of the game is to get more of the questions correct than the expert did.

Needless to say, the Veaches are getting their fill of board games.

"All of her friends want to play (Mouse Round-Up) when they come over, so we have played it tons," Lori said.

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