Playing in traffic: Carmel teen makes fun out of roundabouts with new board game
A Carmel teen — sans license — has come up with a way to make traffic fun.
Franklin Vrtis (pronounced ver-tis) developed a tabletop game themed after one of his community’s most notable characteristics.
Inspired by Carmel’s traffic circles — the city has more than 140 with more in the works — the two- to four-person Roundabout tile-laying game has players drawing square tile cards with which to build roundabouts and accrue points. The player with the most points after all of the cards are used is the winner.
A 14-year-old Carmel High School freshman, Franklin comes from a family of game lovers.
He and his dad, Matt Vrtis, are fans of card games, with Terraforming Mars and Unfair being among their favorites.
“As a family, there are many days when we’re playing card games, we'd think about card game ideas,” Franklin said.
A few years prior, the father and son had created another game, Tag the Card Game, inspired by the playground activity. But it didn’t go into physical stores.
Roundabouts though was driven by Franklin, from the design to the artwork, prompted by a suggestion his dad made last summer.
Carmel has more roundabouts than any U.S. city, replacing traffic signals with traffic circles since the late 1990s.
“Carmel has so many of them. And I immediately thought that was a tremendous idea. And I can make that!” Franklin said.
He had a couple of months with a light calendar, so he went all in.
Gameplay is a family affair
“We played it virtually on an app to help prototype it. And it kind of just grew even more from there,” he said.
Franklin finished the game at the end of last summer after two months of development.
Franklin's dad paid $1,200 for the actual production of Roundabouts through a Wisconsin-based game publishing company.
Matt Vrtis also grew up playing games with his parents — “It got pretty intense,” he said — and they would go to the Gen Con tabletop game convention annually as a child.
Franklin can be found with the family all four days of Gen Con each year. Franklin can be found with the family on all four days of Gen Con each year.
That’s where in 2022 he got to playtest a prototype of Roundabouts, and was advised by other creators to pitch it for production.
“We had never thought about selling it because, for the longest time, it was just a hobby," Franklin said.
Playing the game takes about 30 minutes, and the recommended minimum age on the website is 12; so no license is required.
Many of the roundabouts built in the game would be undrivable if constructed in real life.
“Some of the roundabouts have only entrances or only exits,” Franklin explained. “I would not, when I'm older, want to drive on roundabouts like those.”
Roundabouts is being sold at the All Things Carmel gift shop, 110 W. Main St., as well as visionmonster.com.
Contact IndyStar reporter Cheryl V. Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-444-6264. Follow her on Twitter:@cherylvjackson.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Carmel teen makes fun out of roundabouts with new board game