The Story of the First Game of Better Me™:
At this point, Better Me has been through three print runs, sold thousands of copies to all corners of the world, and is carried in some of the best bookstores and game shops in the world. We are even working with a publisher in Spain to create the game in Spanish! But how did it get started?
After being an idea sitting in a google doc for years, Better Me sprang to life one night in the basement of a flea market (my business and home at the time) in Bellingham, Washington, USA. I had been thinking about what would be my next project, and had created a list with many ideas, all quite different. I realized that this game was the best idea on my list, one that would help people around the world. And it also sounded fun to do. So I ran up to my office and grabbed a giant pad of graph paper and a handful of highlighters and colored markers. By the end of that night I had the game path, the card categories, and a basic idea of how the game would work.
Shortly after that, the first test game was played, with just myself and one close friend. It was a crude first game (we didn't even have physical game cards, we were just using the few cards I'd written on my computer), but it was obvious to both of us that this was really something special.
As a result of that first game, I wrote a long email to my dad, thanking him for everything he did for me when I was young. I told him that as I grew older, I began to realize that not everyone was as lucky as I was, going on fishing trips, to baseball games, having him teach me to tie knots, use tools, etc. I listed all sorts of fond memories that I had of my dad while growing up, right down to all the flat bicycle tires he fixed for me after I rode through the blackberry bushes again, and how he had reassured me that there really were no crocodiles under my bed, or gorillas in my closet at night. He later told me he loved the email and felt like he should print it out and frame it. Although I knew how great my dad was, I'm not sure if I ever would have told him like that, if it weren't for this game giving me a push. That one letter alone was worth the effort of creating this game.
My good friend, who played that first test game with me, made a commitment I'll never forget. She decided to sponsor an orphaned elephant at a wildlife trust in Kenya, and to do it in her kids' name for Christmas, which was only six weeks away. Here is an excerpt from her email to me soon after the game:
"I'm excited! I wanted this to be a Christmas present for the kids last year but didn't get around to it. Now that I'm accountable and it's fresh in my mind again, I'll make it happen!"
And my actual response: "Awesome, such a cool idea! I bet your kids will LOVE that. I fu$%ing love this game and the action it's making us take! Bam, Pow, Smack (Batman style)"
She wound up sponsoring an orphaned one year old female elephant named Kihari. She shared the links with me, including photos and updates on Kihari's daily life at the wildlife center, right down to details on her favorite playmates and what they enjoyed doing together. I'll never forget that first game.
Since then, there have been countless games played on at least five continents, leading to wonderful actions taken and friendships strengthened by playing the game. And other than with friends and family, the game is also being played at many universities, hospitals, rehabilitation programs, schools, mentorship programs, and group therapy sessions. I have really come to believe 100% that this game is making a real positive impact on people around the world. I hope you'll joining in spreading this game around the world, and have fun doing it.
-Dan O'Donnell, creator of Better Me, the Game of Growth and Frienship
The Creator, Dan O'Donnell:
Born and raised in Bellingham, Washington, USA. I founded PositiveAtmosphere.com and the Positive Thinking Facebook page, with well over a million likes.
In 2014, I sold O'Donnell's Bellingham Flea Market and moved to Thailand, to focus full-time on inspiring and empowering people.
I've created Better Me - the Game of Growth and Friendship, to help people, with the hope to leave the world better than I found it. There really is no other game like Better Me. It harnesses the power of learning through play, and challenges people to take specific action to better themselves, while having other players engaged to support and hold them accountable to their commitments.