Flushing teachers design dinosaur themed board games

FLUSHING — Flushing High School teachers David McGregor and Marissa Misura have turned their love of board games into a creative venture packed with dinosaurs, theme parks and Jurassic-sized thrills for the whole family.

McGregor, an FHS English teacher, and Misura, an FHS math teacher, recently co-designed Dinosaur World and Dinosaur Island: Rawr ‘n Write—a pair of strategy board games inspired by the commercial success of the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World movie franchises.

McGregor and Misura collaborated on the games with professional game designer Brian Lewis and raised over $1 million for the project through an online Kickstarter campaign. Both games are successors to the original Dinosaur Island, a critically acclaimed board game designed by Lewis in 2017 and published through Pandasaurus Games.

“If you would have told me a year ago that we were going to raise $1 million for this project through Kickstarter, I would have said ‘Impossible!’” said McGregor. “We were very lucky to know the right people and blessed to work on the sequels to a game (Dinosaur Island) that had so much success.”

In a similar vein to Jurassic Park, Dinosaur World and Dinosaur Island: Rawr ‘n Write enable gamers to build their own dinosaur theme parks with exhibits and habitats for dinosaurs. Once the doors open to the public, however, players must work to keep the park entertaining and profitable…and prevent their guests from getting eaten by the park’s prehistoric inhabitants.

Dinosaur World utilizes a hexagonal tile board format that can be assembled and customized according to a player’s strategy and a game’s particular scenario. It also features “blinged out” game pieces, including amber-colored “DNA” dice, acrylic/plastic dinosaur figures and metal coins.

McGregor and Misura’s advent from board game enthusiasts to board game designers began last year when they came up with the idea to transform Dinosaur Island into a roll and write style game. Roll and write is a genre akin to a strategic version of Yahtzee, in which players can roll a set of dice and allocate what they roll.

Having become good friends with Brian Lewis, McGregor and Misura decided to contact him and see if he and Pandasaurus would be interested in an expansion to the original Dinosaur Island.

“Our thought to expand on the Dinosaur Island game…blossomed into something so much bigger,” said McGregor. “Brian and his co-designer Jon Gilmour were open to the idea, and before we knew it, we had gone from playtesting games to designing one of our own.”

Hours of brainstorming and redesign led McGregor and Misura to complete a working prototype for Dinosaur Island: Rawr n’ Write, which then led them to also create a stand-alone Dinosaur World game and three expansion packs.

As avid gamers, McGregor and Misura said that they’ve grown fond of the complexity behind modern board games, particularly the roll and write style that allows for advanced decision-making.

“Having played a lot more well-known games like Monopoly, I definitely see how they don’t really offer you choices compared to playing modern board games,” Misura said. “With the traditional games, you roll the dice and that’s where you go. With modern board games, you have so many decisions and choices to make. It’s exciting and it really prompts you to play at your best.”

McGregor and Misura, who oversee the Flushing High School board game club, hope that the Dinosaur World and Dinosaur Island: Rawr ‘n Write games will be a smash hit with gamers and bring families together for board game night around the dinner table.

“These are relatively quick-playing games that present a fun storyline and challenging decisions,” McGregor said. “You can increase the competition level if you want to or play at a more moderate level to teach kids and tweens. Plus, everyone loves dinosaurs, and you get to create your own world with them.”

Both dinosaur-themed games are being published by Pandasaurus Games and are expected to be available for purchase this August.