Isla Vista: The Game

UCSB Alum Creates Board Game Based on I.V. Life

Isla Vista board game

In an attempt to capture the essence of Isla Vista, UCSB alumnus Nate Morrow has developed a board game based on life in the infamous college town.

The object of Isla Vista: The Game is to start from home and get to class, the beach, and the party while stopping off at as many locations as possible. Along the way, players must answer trivia questions, defend their location from being stolen, and participate in social mini games drawn from a stack of cards, all while using the bike paths and dodging the Foot Patrol. The player with the most points in the end wins.

Locations in the game include a couch fire, Campus Point, the I.V. Food Co-op, Cajé, Super Cucas, Woodstock’s Pizza, The Cantina, International Market, and I.V. Deli Mart. Potential social cards drawn could result in points taken off for being a communication major, points gained for having mac ‘n’ cheese or Top Ramen in your pantry, and citations for having ever dressed up in risqué Halloween costumes.

Morrow, who graduated in 2004 with a degree in sociology, said that the idea came to him while he was attending UCSB and discussing possible games with his friends that would be fun to play before going out.

“My memory of going out in I.V. was that it was mostly about what you did before you went out. My friends and I thought it would be great to have a game about I.V. that we could all play as a pre-gaming activity. It’s just such a unique place and experience to live there and go to school,” Morrow said. “At the time it just seemed like it would be too much work and too expensive, but I always kept the idea in the back of my head.”

The game went though many changes throughout the 15-month development process, said Morrow. “A big part of creating the game was deciding to make it a drinking game or not. I didn’t want to leave anyone out, and I wanted it to be fun for anyone, so in the end it ended up not being a drinking game. Another aspect of the game that was important to me was that it could be played in under an hour; I timed all the rounds repeatedly.”

Getting the game made seemed particularly daunting to Morrow, and after contacting many companies, he finally heard back from Chicago Game and Card. The game company answered his questions and assisted him with overseas production. Morrow said he funded the entire process himself because he knew that other people felt as strongly about Isla Vista as he did, and that response to the game has been very positive, particularly among other UCSB alums.

Morrow added that developing the game has opened up a whole new creative side of him and has prompted him to begin work on other games, as well. He has plans for games about the Bay Area and the Pacific Beach region of San Diego.

“My other games are inspired by similar ideas as this one. I really enjoy making games about places with a unique personality that I have some knowledge of. The other game I have in the works is about burritos,” said Morrow.

The Isla Vista board game can be purchased at the I.V. Co-op, Coffee Collaborative, Game Seeker on State Street, and Kernohan’s Toys, and can also be ordered online at


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