student life

IU alum creates Little 500 board game


Riders compete during the "2016 Little 500 Men's Race" Saturday at Bill Armstrong Staidum. Victor Gan and Victor Gan

When Alex Bishop came to IU, he didn’t know anyone, but he knew one thing: he wanted to ride for the Cutters in Little 500. He spent months asking strangers if they knew anyone on the team.

By dumb luck, he met someone who connected him with the team, and in 2007, during his junior year, he became a Little 500 champion riding with 
the Cutters.

Bishop is 31 and looking to recreate what he described as a life-changing experience by inventing a board game based on the race.

“If you know anything about me, I am very, very passionate and have a deep-seated dislike toward technology,” he said from his home in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, a suburb of Denver.

Bishop said his motivation for creating a board game comes from his belief that technology has made people socially inept.

“When you go to a friend’s house or home for the holidays, everyone’s in the same room, but nobody’s present,” Bishop said. “The cool thing about having a physical game in front of you is that it forces you to interact with people.”

“Glory Gears” is a strategy-based game in which 2-8 players compete to get their teams of cyclists around the game board. Bishop said he created the game with sets of optional rules for advanced players who want the game to resemble the specifics of an actual bike race more closely. He also said there’s little to no luck involved, so it will appeal to people who like strategy games.

Bishop said he usually gets ideas for games when he’s on a run or a bike ride while thinking through visions he has for the game. Then he works out the logistics and makes sure everything works the way he thought. Finally, he tests the game on friends.

Bishop has had the idea for “Glory Gears” for around a decade but didn’t begin working on prototypes for it until about three or four years ago, he said.

He created a Kickstarter in November to be able to fund manufacturing. The $10,000 goal has to be reached by Dec. 16 or the game doesn’t get made. As of publication, only $4,968 has been pledged. However, Bishop said he is optimistic he will hit his goal.

“I still believe in this game because every time I’ve played it with a bunch of people, I’ve gotten nothing but amazing, positive feedback,” he said. “Once it’s made and in game stores and bike shops around the country and people actually play it, it will really find 
its own.”

Backers who pledge $40 or more will receive a copy of “Glory Gears.”

After “Glory Gears,” Bishop said he wants to continue making games. He said he currently has about a dozen games, including a cycling game and a sports agent game where the player takes on a Jerry Maguire-type role, in prototype phases. He doesn’t want to limit himself to just board games, either; he has a few funny, fast-paced card games in the works as well.

Bishop said he created this game as a way for others to be inspired, much like how the race he won in 2007 inspired him, and to encourage young people to enroll at IU.

He hopes that it will bring more awareness to the University and get more people involved in what he referred to as a great tradition.

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