Levi Turner is your typical nine-year-old. The Canberra boy loves video games and bum jokes – but he’s also a best-selling local card game developer.
Levi’s cheeky parody of the classic Go Fish card game involves matching the bums of everything from robots to cats to win the game appropriately named Go Bum.
Today, the game can be found on the shelves of Harry Hartog in Tuggeranong and Woden and Ronin Games at Woden Westfield, where it has skyrocketed to the best-selling family game.
Levi’s dad and fellow bum-joke enthusiast Evan Turner says it’s been a long journey for an idea that sprouted from the depths of Canberra’s 2021 COVID lockdown.
“One afternoon I had both kids at home and needed to think of what I was going to do with them,” Evan remembers.
“We love playing board games and I love getting the kids off screens and playing together face to face, so I said to Levi, ‘How about we make a game together?'”
That afternoon, the game, which empowers its players to throw social etiquette to the wind and ask questions like, ‘Do you have a slimy bum?’ or ‘Do you have a wrinkly bum?’ was born.
“We’re not exactly known for our high-brow humour,” Evan laughs.
Levi adds: “We play a lot of other board games like King of Tokyo and Sushi Go Party, so we wanted to make a game too.”
The duo spent the rest of the day brainstorming the game’s 25 different bums (Levi is partial to the Double Bum, Golden Bum and Mystery Bums “because they give you extra points and turns to help you win”). Next came the prototyping phase. Evan supported Levi by drawing all the bums, scanning and copying them, cutting them out and finally sticking them onto cardboard.
“Once we started playing it, we realised it was really quite different and fun,” Evan says. “Friends and family started asking for copies, so we thought there could be something to this game.”
All the while, another initiative for crafty young Canberrans was bubbling away. The inaugural Little Village Markets “for little business people” had been scheduled for that September (2021).
Seven-year-old Levi agreed he wanted to try to sell the game at the market, so Evan arranged for 100 copies of Go Bum to be made by a local printer – every last one of which sold.
“Levi was talking to customers, explaining and selling the game, giving the correct change and everything,” Evan says.
“We were just there to provide support when he needed it, which wasn’t very often.”
The up-and-coming businessman made $100 at the market but donated his profits to the Australian Koala Foundation (AKF) following the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires.
“Lots of koalas died in the bushfires, and we wanted to get the population back,” Levi explains. “Also, around that time, we went to Tidbinbilla and saw some there. The babies are so cute.”
After tasting success at the markets, the pair started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to hire a professional illustrator and have versions made by a card game manufacturer.
Thanks to what Evan says has been amazing support from the whole Canberra community, Levi received 320 orders ($1 from each order was donated to the AKF) for Go Bum.
The campaign was so successful its 162 backers exceeded the fundraising target by more than 50 per cent, allowing the pair to order extra copies to pitch to local retailers.
“Harry Hartog Tuggeranong [and Woden] have agreed to trial Go Bum at their store, which is mind-blowing because that’s a chain of bookstores across Australia,” Evan says.
“We’re really hoping that this trial goes well so we can keep getting Go Bum out there and have lots of families having great times playing the game.”
Levi says it makes him proud to see his game in stores. “Especially given we are doing a good job helping the koalas. We have raised over $750 so far for them,” he says.
“The journey has been a very long one but very enjoyable,” Evan says. “If anyone is thinking of making a game, I highly recommend giving it a go. You never know where it can lead.”