Evanston resident Kate Hunt develops children’s board game


Photo courtesy of Kate Hunt

Kids smile while playing “Ultimate Treehouse.” Kate Hunt, an Evanston resident, designed the board game.

Aviva Bechky, Assistant City Editor

Evanston resident Kate Hunt said her kids often asked her why they couldn’t build a treehouse outside their apartment. In 2019, she started working on a different way to build treehouses: through a board game. 

“A lot of kids have this innate desire for a hangout, a place that’s theirs, a place that belongs to them,” she said. “I thought that’d be a fun basis for a game: being able to build a treehouse.”

Hunt recently made “Ultimate Treehouse” available online and in some Evanston stores. Players place whimsical cards decorated with illustrations like a squirrel squinting into a telescope onto their game mats. The goal is to be the first to collect six elements: walls, a roof, a floor and three fun items.

Hunt made the initial version of the game with cards she decorated herself before sending the prototype to friends, including Evanston resident Keren Chookaszian. Chookaszian said she and her three kids first played the game about a year ago.

“I had never really seen a game that was great for everybody in the family,” Chookaszian said. “It was easy to follow. The kids really liked it.”

Hunt said her kids also contributed ideas to “Ultimate Treehouse” — she said she added a disco ball to the game after her oldest child suggested it as an extra element.

Last summer, Hunt met with local illustrator Matthew LaFleur to show him the prototype and discuss drawing the game. LaFleur said he added his own style to the game. When he first looked at it, the treehouse illustrations were only sparsely populated, he said.

“I thought, what can we do to breathe a little bit more life into this?” LaFleur said. “My first thought was a rabbit would be flying down this zip line. And I was like, ‘Okay, so then now, we can have squirrels here. We get an owl there. We put a turtle over there, and birds in the tree.’”

Hunt began selling the finished version of “Ultimate Treehouse” online in January, she said. It’s also available at Evanston Games & Cafe on Maple Ave. and Stumble & Relish on Chicago Ave. 

Eli Klein, the owner of Evanston Games & Cafe, said he’s recently struggled to find kids games he likes, but the response to “Ultimate Treehouse” has been good overall. 

“The people who come to hang out in the store and play games there and drink coffee there, they make the effort to buy from me because they want to support their local game store,” Klein said. “That spirit extends to: We’ve got a game made by an Evanston resident.” 

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Twitter: @avivabechky

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