Motivated by a critique from his children, an Oklahoma native with a creative flair crafted a board game with a Christian theme.
Derek White, creator of the True Frenemies game, learned to expect honest answers when seeking out the opinions of youths.
White’s children were 9 and 12 when told him they thought one of his Sunday school lessons was boring. Determined to add more pizazz to his lesson, the dad came up with the Christian board game.
White, 53, said True Frenemies was launched in December 2019.
He said in spite of the challenges that came with the COVID-19 pandemic, the game has achieved a fair amount of success and is now available nationwide through Christianbook.com, as well as New Day Christian Distributors. He and his family were particularly thrilled when Oklahoma City-based national retailer Mardel Christian and Education stores began selling the game.
The motivation to offer something to pique the interest of his children and other youths has led the Whites on quite the journey.
In 2018, Derek White was teaching a Sunday school class about friendships.
“Honestly, at the start, I just needed something for Sunday morning class,” said White, who currently lives in a Des Moines, Iowa, suburb, with his wife Lucy and their children, a 16-year-old son, and a 13-year-old daughter.
White said the game was initially simple but youths liked it and it helped convey several spiritual concepts.
Finding the Easter eggs
White was born in Oklahoma City and moved to Edmond when he was in sixth grade. After graduating from Edmond Memorial, he attended Oklahoma Christian University for a year before moving on to Oklahoma State University, where he graduated with multiple degrees. He then earned a doctorate at the University of Texas.
White said he’s still amazed that he created a board game. The modest man said there are others who deserve credit for the game, including his wife and two other people. He said the men who helped him flesh out his original game concept were Chris Wells, an Iowa State University student, and graphic designer Doug Campbell.
The game’s name is a combination of the words “friends’ and “enemies.” White said the name hints at an important aspect of the game, which is to help a friend get to the finish line. Players are tasked with progressing to the finish while making a series of life decisions. They also decide who they are going to help get to the end without being able to tell the person that they are trying to aid them. The game, which costs about $30, is generally inspired by the popular Game of Life board game by Milton Bradley.
“Our walk is not alone” says the game’s informal motto.
There are several Easter eggs that players will find as they make their way along the True Frenemies path. White said he placed Christian images and imagery related to items or events that are Christian-inspired in the game.
White said he remembers when he knew that people would like the game.
“When we first played it in the class, we saw how much the children were getting into it,” he said.
True Frenemies has hit what White describes as a “sweet spot” with middle school girls who seemed to be particularly interested in the game.
“One of the goals is to bring families together,” White said.
Also, he said for people who may be uncomfortable inviting someone to attend Bible study, the game offers them a fun and different way to discuss Christian faith with friends and loved ones.
How to find the game
Besides Mardel and online venues like Christianbook.com, True Frenemies is also available through several local brick-and-mortar retailers, including Feathered Nest Market, Games HQ; and Learning Tree Toys, Books, and Games in Oklahoma City, and Kickingbird Books and Trinity Mercantile in Edmond.
Derek White’s mother, Karen White, also sells the game at Country Corner, her antique shop in Guthrie.
The proud mom said people have given her positive feedback about True Frenemies.
“There seems to be a hunger for quality board games,” she said.
For more information about the game, go to https://www.mount21.com/.