0 items$0.00

No products in the cart.

Bipolar the Card Game feat. Mike De Greef – 113

Episode Overview

  • Episode Topics
    • BGE Updates – 0:21
    • Who is Mike De Greef? 00:53
    • Learning through Games: Magic: the Gathering and English Language Learning – 4:30
    • A Career Shift to the Mental Health Field and Game Design – 6:28
    • Bipolar the Card Game – 9:11
    • Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down Rapid Fire Round – 16:27

On this week’s episode of Board Gaming with Education Dustin is joined by Mike De Greef to talk about his game Bipolar the Card Game. In the episode, Dustin and Mike chat about the process of designing a game based on a sensitive topic. Mike lays out a strong blueprint for this design approach that is worth listening to! He also talks about the importance of raising awareness about mental health.

Please visit Bipolar the Card Game to order a copy! Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/123152948520594

Thank you to Purple Planet Music for the wonderful contribution of their song “Retro Gamer” for our Interview Segment. This song can be found in full on this music archive. Also, thank you to Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) for his creative commons 4.0 contribution of “Getting it Done” for our Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down Rapid Fire Round.

Our Facebook Group for Educators: Games-based Learning, Gamification, and Games in Education

You can listen to us on Apple Podcasts (or any other platform you get your podcasts):




Board Gaming with Education Updates – 0:21

Be sure to sign-up for our holiday promotion by joining our email list. You should receive more information on how to redeem your holiday offer in a follow-up email.



Who is Mike De Greef? – 0:53

Dustin introduces Mike, designer of Bipolar the Card Game, Mike De Greef. Mike De Greef is an experienced mental health worker. He tells his recovery story in schools and uses his card game Bipolar to do this in a playful way. He has worked on his card game for three years in collaboration with therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and fellow sufferers. Breaking the taboo about mental health is very important to him. He is always ready to answer questions about this topic.

Learning through Games: Magic: the Gathering and English Language Learning – 4:30

Mike shares his experience learning the English language through the Magic: the Gathering communities he was involved. He also demonstrates how these communities are great for developing social skills and soft skills.

A Career Shift to the Mental Health Field and Game Design – 6:28

Mike talks about his venture into the field of mental health, and how his game design fueled his interest in the mental health field and his eventual career change.

Bipolar the Card Game – 9:11

Mike talks about Bipolar the Card Game. He lays out a great blueprint for designers who are also thinking about designing games based on sensitive topics. He walks us through some of the challenges and pushback he received from players outside of the mental health communities and how he addressed concerns about designing a game based on a sensitive topic. He also shares his process for designing a game like this by starting with the community the game is about first. Then after addressing the specific community’s expectations and concerns, broadening his audience for the game.


Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down Rapid Fire Round – 16:27

Dustin challenges Mike with some rapid-fire statements to see their unsolicited opinions on them. Be sure to tune in to hear his answers!

Transcript of “Bipolar the Card Game feat. Mike De Greef – 113”

Transcript automated and provided by otter.ai. [Using this link helps us continue to use this transcription service for future episodes.] Disclaimer: This is an automated transcript and may have errors in grammar, wording, and/or word choice.

Board Gaming with Education 0:03
Board Gaming with Education a podcast for anyone curious about how games and education mix, we explore various topics like game based learning gamification, and board games and the impacts they have on learning. here’s your host, Dustin Staats.

Dustin Staats 0:21
Coming up, we have another interview episode of Board Gaming with Education. Before we get into the episode, I want to share with you that our holiday special our promotion is live on our website Board Gaming with education.com. There are several different levels for you to check out for some free offers or discounts on your purchase. We have free shipping free gift sponsored by 25th century games, the Christmas lights card game, check it out on our site, again, Board Gaming with education.com.

Welcome to another interview episode of Board Gaming with Education, I am thrilled to be joined by and I’m hopefully I can say this right Mike graph from Belgium. He is a game designer, and he is learning how to maybe intervene in the mental health field. And we’ll talk about the reason why because it is very much related to the topic we’re going to talk about today. And Mike, would you mind introducing yourself a little bit more and giving our guests a little bit more about you?

Mike De Greef 1:23
And thank you for having me first? Well, I’m a 46 year old or young man, have a nice girlfriend and I live in Belgium for the people who doesn’t know where Belgium is. Does West Europe. Well, I love to play the songs kind of tennis squash thing. And like everybody like to listen to music, watching movies, and of course playing board games with my best friends. And important. I have bipolar disorder. Also, I tell my life story before classes how it is to have bipolar disorder. I do also volunteering work for different organizations like ups and downs. As an organization and Belgium who helps people with bipolar disorder. And I give Dutch lessons to immigrants and give computer lessons to older people. I think there’s a lot of stuff to start.

Dustin Staats 2:28
That’s awesome. That’s really admirable some of the things you do and seems like you were a lot of hats too. I’m excited to chat more about your game and also mental health in the board game hobby, because I think that’s an important topic to discuss and for everyone in the hobby to be aware about. But before we get there, you said you like to play a lot of board games. So can we start with the I didn’t prep you for this question. So what are your favorite board games right now?

Mike De Greef 2:56
For the moment. I like to play. Still seven wonders. Several Ender’s Game with a lot of friends. And that’s fine. Also major night, that’s a little bit harder game. We play a lot of lot different games. It’s on websites. And with COVID it’s important to say distance over two websites. We can still see each other.

Dustin Staats 3:31
Right. Yeah, there’s some awesome, awesome resources out there now, especially that are having grown more popular since the pandemic like board game arena.net. Maybe?

Mike De Greef 3:42
Yeah, yeah, that’s the one. That’s the one board game arena, we use that one to stay in touch and play board games. Right. And that’s a free one for the most part. I mean, there there is a membership, but most of the games are free on there, which is really awesome. You can play for free and if you have a membership you can start to games.

Dustin Staats 4:04
Okay, I knew there was an I think maybe there’s no waiting for games because sometimes you have to wait for quote unquote the table to me available to nothing. It’s like a server thing. But before we get into talking about bipolar, the deck builder game. What was one time that you had learned something either through playing a game or through playing games in general?

Mike De Greef 4:26
Well, this already long time ago, I first remembered I was playing Magic the Gathering. I think most of the people know which card game and I learned to analyze deeply interact with complex situations and making new decks. But more I was done and diamond introvert guy. And it took a lot of courage to me to talk to the people and exchanged cards. Also, the two most important was that I improved my English a lot, thanks to Magic the Gathering. And even my teacher of English noticed it. And awesome. I love those stories. And I’m probably a little bias where I hear people that have improved their language through playing a game because it’s it’s huge. It’s, it’s something called communicative based teaching where the goal of learning the language is by the outcome, wanting to use the language to play Magic the Gathering. And one thing you said that I didn’t really realize, and I’m thinking about my experience was through trading card games when I played like Pokemon and YuGiOh growing up, and you trade with other people, and you have to learn how to navigate those social situations and negotiate your cards I know, as a kid, maybe you make some pretty poor trades sometimes. But I think that’s really important. It’s part of learning to. So how does the hobby of board games relate with your life and career. But like I said, Sometimes I tell my life story before classes show always to have bipolar disorder. And and then after that, we played the card game I made together with the audience. After doing that a couple of times, I decided to follow a course as experienced worker and the mental health to improve my skills to help people with mental problems.

Dustin Staats 6:33
And so you can say that design in my court game influenced a career switch a while. So the designing the game came, I guess, later. So you decided to pursue your career because you wanted to? Or you had designed the game? And then you wanted to pursue this career in the mental health field.

Mike De Greef 6:55
Yep, that’s right. So after giving some classes, and showing my experience, how it is to have bipolar disorder, I get a lot of positive feeling about it gave me positive energy. And I saw also that people got a lot of feedback, and a lot of more knowledge about the disease. And you said you give classes or these, I guess informational classes about bipolar disorder? Yes. Does it show before for example, students, nurses, teachers, psychologists, for different classes,

Dustin Staats 7:41
super awesome. And then how did you, you said you decided to first get into game design to help share the experience of bipolar disorder? And how did or how did that idea of designing this game come about?

Mike De Greef 7:58
So I was thinking a couple of years of designing board games, I had some friends who built a nice game, and I was challenged, because it was really, really nice. But like, a lot of good IDs of board games, designers, this, they get in my head, but never came out. Better the moment I’m alive, I need to be hospitalized, and the mental health hospital to recover from a manic episode. And there we have different sorts of therapy, like exercise, psycho education, but we also had create creativity therapy. And one of the therapists saw that I played a lot of board games. So she decided to let us make our own simple board game. Like for example, Snake tails version. And there were some nice games mate and a short time, but we had normally three hours to make it but I got to work on it for three years. So a little bit longer than expected. A lot longer than three months, you’re about the math there but something thousand times more.

Dustin Staats 9:21
Awesome. So you created a bipolar card game. What is the game exactly? bipolars the card game does name is a symptom educational deck builder card game.

Mike De Greef 9:34
Well, it’s an attempt to simulate a life dealing with bipolar disorder. So by bipolar disorder, you have the highs and the lows, the manic and depressive episodes a person with bipolar disorder can have then you as played will take up the role of a bipolar person and then you will face certain real life triggers that will let to show So for bipolar t Simpson, then by gathering experience, you learn to write journals physical location and acquire the right help to deal with this sentence. And then towards the end of the game, you will even be able to overcome crisis situation. And that says In short, but it is a nice game with a lot of educational parts.

Dustin Staats 10:25
That’s awesome. And it is a pretty serious topic. So how did I guess why did you design it? And maybe could you also speak to how you decided to incorporate this topic and also being considered of maybe the sensitive side of these issues?

Mike De Greef 10:43
Well, the reason I designed it was, I had some reasons. The first one was to explain the bipolar disorder to people. I do this through showing the triggers and symptoms. And I want also to make it debatable. And I want also to break taboos. And show to people by bold people that there are some possibilities for therapy, people, places where you can get help, does the reason because why I designed it. But like you said, it’s not easy to make a game. And keep in mind too sensitive considerations. Because mental health is very difficult to translate. And again. First, I work together with some therapists and psychologists to be fairly accurate to retrieving the correct information. And talked a lot with fellows suffers. And I got a lot of inflammation feedback from them. So people with bipolar illness, and people who are specialized in it, that was a very hard part. But after that, I searched for a game mechanic. And I tested some out some versions. And I got some advice from some follow designers to Facebook and also to your Facebook site group. And they said to me make a deck builder from it, and I tried it and it gave a good result. Because it gives you a constructive and positive feeling. And I and that was the thing I wanted to create. And also you improve your own progress, feeling I wanted to put in again, and then there was another important part was the design. For the design, I use simple icons, that information shown in a neutral way as possible. So I wouldn’t offend anybody, at least as possible. And then as last I tested the game a lot, first with fellow surfers, and then with the average gamer.

Dustin Staats 13:14
Wow, that’s a I think a very great blueprint that you kind of describe there for managing the design of issue like this is looking at first, the specific group right and talking to them and trying to get as much accurate information and as well as understanding that group’s particular feelings or I guess, kind of challenges surrounding that issue. Yeah, and I also like that you decided to go with the deck builder one because I love deck builders but also, I love how in the game you have different I guess if I remember like coping mechanisms and as you build your deck, you kind of grow and learn these coping mechanisms that helps you get a build a better deck, which is a I guess maybe an accurate portrayal of our coping mechanisms can help in these people maybe with mental health challenges.

Mike De Greef 14:08
Yeah, it’s a positive, positive way to improve your deck and you have also positive feeling afterwards.

Dustin Staats 14:21
So what are some challenges were the most challenging was to make a balance between the fun and the serious topic game.

Mike De Greef 14:31
So that wasn’t easy because you I had a lot of critic from some persons not all that you couldn’t make a board game about a mental health topic. But most of the people who were bypolls set it was a great ID with some people thought you cannot not mix fun with a serious topic. It was difficult challenge for me to make a balance between fun and serious. And benefits for me for board game hobby and mental health was it creates connections. It’s a teaching tool, and also makes socializing easy. Because when you’re sick, it’s not so evident to socialize with somebody. And it’s also accessible to everybody. And playing board games change also create creativity, and self confidence. And it’s also important when somebody is ill to recover

Dustin Staats 15:55
on some awesome and what would you say is one thing you consider important for players to understand about mental health.

Mike De Greef 16:04
But for me, the most important is talking about mental health problems you have to the right people, of course, and or try to listen to people who need it. For me, it’s very important to break taboos. And it has many benefits to do. So I find that you can help each other.

Dustin Staats 16:27
Awesome. So we’re gonna move into our final segment. But before we do, do you have any last words for someone? Maybe that is either suffering from mental health challenges, and they want to go into the board game hobby and start playing games? What kind of suggestion might you make for them?

Mike De Greef 16:47
Keep positive, and I’m certain you will get reach your goal. The combination is surely say where some of the soldiers and managers your name or you talk about it, the better you get. And there’s a lot a lot of people out there on Facebook, for example, different groups like your group, who will certainly help you in designing the game you want. Awesome.

Dustin Staats 17:15
So let’s move into our final segment. This is going to be a thumbs up, thumbs down quick lightning round.I’m gonna give you a statement and you’re gonna say thumbs up, because you like it or agree with it. Thumbs down because you don’t like it or you disagree with it. And a brief reason why.

Mike De Greef 17:39
Okay, yeah, of course.

Dustin Staats 17:41
Alright, so the first one, you talked about both these on today’s episode, so I’m gonna create a statement out of it. Deck builders are better than trading card games.

Mike De Greef 17:51
Yes. I think deck builders are better. So thumbs up. Because it costs less. trading card games costs cost a lot of more. And deck builders has a longer fun factor for the same money.

Dustin Staats 18:15
Yeah, I think that’s the biggest gripe with trading card games. So we’re gonna, we’re gonna go and keep with this kind of theme. So RPGs are better than trading card games.

Mike De Greef 18:29
That’s a difficult one. I going this time for trading card games. Because I played magic a lot. And RPGs are not so good is wonderful, fantastic worlds you get in, but then not so good. And following and, and empathy with the characters. So I’m not going to be a good somebody who placed to, for example, that’s pretty.

Dustin Staats 19:03
So the last one, I’m not sure if you play video games. If not, we’ll I’ll try to think of a different one. But this one is board games that are based on video games.

Mike De Greef 19:17
That I played some already. You have some good and some bats, but I like the ID. So I gotta give it a thumbs up. Awesome.

Dustin Staats 19:32
All right, thank you, Mike. And before we go, can you let our listeners know where they might find more information about bipolar, the card game and also if they want to reach out to you where they might do that.

Mike De Greef 19:44
Okay, so for people who want more information about bipolar the guard card game, you can visit my website. It’s w ww, bipolar two card game calm And there is an English version of it. Also in Dutch, but I don’t think much listeners will read the Dutch part. We have also a Facebook group also named bipolar the card game. And there is about around more than forum members at the moment. And for the people who are really interested, I can send you a prototype because I’m still in search for publishers. But there’s a lot of demand already for bipolar two, God game two, so I am going to make some copies on my own and send it to the people who want it. And the money I win with it will go to an organization that helps people with bipolar disorder.

Dustin Staats 20:54
Again, Mike, thank you for sharing your time and your insights on this topic. And hopefully we’ll we’ll talk to you again soon.

Mike De Greef 21:03
Okay, thank you, Dustin, for your time also, and if anybody has questions, they may always get in contact with me.

Board Gaming with Education 21:15
Thank you for listening in this week. If you like what you heard, be sure to let us know you can find us on social media as Board Gaming with Education or big games or email us at podcast at Board Gaming with education.com. If you want to support our podcast, be sure to check out our support page on our website. As always teach better learn more and most importantly, play more. Thank you for listening and until next time,