Co-designer of Discretion, with Christopher Gallagher
Taken from The Princeton Packet, November 15th 1978
Boardwalk and Park Place are fine old neighbor hoods, but two Princeton gamesmen are hoping Old Plantation or Brookside Acres will become the new chic addresses for investors – investors with millions in paper money, that is.
The new estates are on a board game just out, called Discretion and its inventers tout it as a more challenging alternative to Monopoly. Last Saturday, it hit selected stores in Princeton and, like any real estate venture, the sky is the limit.
“We’re just marketing it in Princeton and plan national and international distribution next year” says Christopher Gallagher, co-developer of the game, who has worked for six years with Brian Astle on perfecting the rules of play.
Mr. Astle came up with the original idea, basing it on the scheme of placing different types of buildings near each other in order to increase their overall value. As the idea grew, it became a microcosm for community development and it sounded a bit like Monopoly – buying and selling properties, amassing fortunes.
But Discretion emphasizes community development in a different way to Monopoly. Players co-operate in the development, rather than working to bankrupting each other.
“It’s more like actual real estate, where good use of land and realistic decisions pay off. There’s less chance and more skill involved” Mr. Gallagher says.
In fact, the inventors took a long look at Monopoly in designing their game.
They saw that where Monopoly is too boring or fortuitous, and commuted the possibilities into a different scheme. They incorporated bank loans and even loan-shark loans to bail out failing finances. They brought in inheritance, auctions and harvest yields to complicate the money-making. And they brought in modern bugaboos of real estate for good measure – such as urban renewal, highway construction and hefty taxes,
The winner is the richest person whose investments have paid off the best during the 10-year span of the game.
“Just as in real life, the rich will get richer, although the little guy has a chance to make it too” Mr. Gallagher says.
In tinkering with the game over the years, Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Astle have gotten friends to play it, looking for refinements. They recruited kids from high schools as well as Ph.D’s and avid game players, to try their hands. And hands down they claim, it is just a good game.
Play can take a few hours, and strategies develop as the player becomes accustomed to the ebb and flow of money and opportunity. Since players do not travel around the board, as in Monopoly, but take turns in developing the whole community of Fortune County, concentration is required throughout. At a recent week-end session, three players stayed up until 3 a.m. and began again the next afternoon, still searching for the proper ‘Discretion’ to yield secure profits. One gets bitten with the bug.
“We hope to have annual tournaments some day here in Princeton” says Mr. Gallagher. “That may be an outrageous idea now, but we would like to see that happen.”
The two inventors met in Princeton in 1970, but both are English with scientific backgrounds. Mr. Gallagher has his doctorate in material sciences and works in marketing in Princeton. Mr. Astle is in microcomputer applications at PCA. Together they have formed Princeton International Enterprises, and Discretion is their first product, but not the last.
Mr. Gallagher is already at work on another game where children may be able to beat their parents, and on “a Broadway musical hit”. Mr. Astle is designing computer games in his spare time at home, when he is not avidly playing other games like Japanese Go, an ancient oriental game which was first played several centuries before Christ.
Discretion is available in Karelia, the University Store,the Town Shop and possibly at a Quakerbridge Mall outlet too.
It retails at $9.50 in real dollars, but promises players a fortune in the oldest game of all – making a fast buck.