Here’s an idea for a game. It would be like the kid’s game Memory, where cards are turned over and matches are taken off the playing area. Instead of using identical pictures, images of different animals or plants would be used. Any pair could be matched by a player. The play would be quite similar to standard Memory.
The idea would be to match organisms by evolutionary similarity. So scoring would give maximum points for animals of the same species, next most for same genus, fewer points for animals in the same order, and no points for creatures in different phyla. The easiest implementation would be as a computer game with the computer dealing with scoring. Alternatively cards could be made the lineage described on the back. Each classification category could be displayed a different color or with a different symbol and the first/highest point matching lineage symbol give the points for the match.
This would make the play interesting as any pair could be matched but the player would have to decide if a pair was good enough to pick up or to wait for a better and higher scoring pair next turn.
The design aspect of picking a card set could make an easy set or a hard set, and two aspect of the choice would affect this. First, if animals fall into close pair groups that are distantly related (two parrots, two foxes) then the set would be easier. Having graduated and overlapping groups of cards make the set harder (dog, fox, skunk, weasel, otter, raccoon). Also, how much the player knows of these animals and their relationships can make a card set easier or harder. Some groups are obvious–birds, whales, bats–while other animals are either not as well known (i.e., coatis) or don’t have an obvious lineage (i.e., wolverine). And all these examples are mammals. Invertebrates would make a ridiculously hard game! So sets for kids could be easy and moderate to hard sets can be created.
Here are three game sets:
Mammals, butterflies, and marine invertebrates.