Wheaton aims to kick start yet another game


Just when you thought Mercyhurst University’s foremost gamer Kris Wheaton would have exhausted his supply of games for grownups, he’s invented another, this one called “Widget.”

Widget is a fast, easy, card game that asks players to make silly, weird, unusual or otherwise outlandish widgets out of the words they have in their hands.  The player who creates the "best" widget - as judged by the other players - wins. 

For example, players might have to choose between “a gizmo that sticks pigtails on squids” or “a doohickey that places weasels next to sheep.” The more unusual, the better.

An associate professor of intelligence studies and pioneer in game-based learning, Wheaton’s gaming skills have put Mercyhurst on the pages of USA Today, featured him as a subject-matter expert in notable academic publications and served as the impetus behind Mercyhurst being ranked among the nation’s “10 best colleges for game-based learning” by bestcollegesonline.com.

Only a few months ago, he invented a tabletop game, “The Mind’s Lie,” to help his students identify cognitive biases and find ways to mitigate them. He has been working with software engineering students at Penn State Behrend to design an android version.

As with any Wheaton project, Widget is multi-dimensional. Not only is it a fun, family-friendly card game, but its construction is both unique and artistic, engaging 47 different artists from around the world to illustrate the cards. Artists from as far away as the Philippines, Australia, Malaysia, Israel, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Argentina, and Nigeria contributed to the game.

While “The Mind’s Lie” was funded through a Keystone Innovation Grant because of its obvious academic applications, Wheaton is attempting to raise money for his newest game through Kickstarter, a funding platform for creative projects. You can learn more by checking out his personal Kickstarter page.

As of  Monday, March 11, at  2:30 p.m., Wheaton had raised $1,638 from 58 online contributors. He has until Saturday, April 6, to reach his goal of $4,000 or, according to Kickstarter terms, forfeit it all.  However, at 40 percent of his goal in just four days and having been chosen a “staff pick” by Kickstarter, Wheaton would appear to be well on his way.

Meanwhile, he is also using this newest project as a research vehicle for determining how intelligence analysis can best be used by entrepreneurs to achieve success with their respective projects.

According to Wheaton, “Entrepreneurs need intelligence support just as much as governments and big businesses but, until now, no one has explored the topic. I figured the best way to learn about what entrepreneurs need from intelligence is to become an entrepreneur myself.”









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