March 8, 2008

Dinosaur Top Trumps!

About a year ago I picked up a pack of Dinosaur Top Trumps. The game invokes slight nostalgia for my youth, and I figured the dinosaur set was a form of scientific toy, so might have some relation to my research.

If you're not familiar with Top Trumps, it's a card game played in rounds, based on getting a high value card. Each set of cards is themed, and each card will have a set of values relating to that theme. For Dinosaurs it's height, weight, length, "killer rating", age and "intelligence rating". Players take it in turns to call out the category, and the one with the highest value wins.

top trumps!

When I got home, I glanced at them and mused on the odd cultural economy of dinosaurs and slightly bizzare facticity of much children's non-fiction media. At least I thought about it for about 30 seconds and then left them on a bookshelf and largely forgot about the whole thing. I was reminded of them last month while re-reading Buckingham & Scanlon's discussion of dinosaur books, where they (rather cheekily, but darn accurately in my opinion) compared the cult of the dinosaur in non-fiction publishing with Pokémon. Its all about collecting and exchanging facts, with the odd semi-fantastic monster thrown in.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago some friends and I were bored, and I dug them out for a game. So, some observations based on our lazy Sunday evening game.

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