Created by Renata Kuba, Rômulo Castilho, Tânia Alencar and Igor Sonoda.

1st place at the 4th National Game Design Competition (2008)
Exhibited at the Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany
Bought and distributed by Estrela, one of the biggest toy companies in Brazil

Tribo das Palavras is a fun and exciting board game that won the 4th National Game Design Competition sponsored by Espaço Palavra. The objective is to completed as many characters as possible, which are inspired by the different tribes in São Paulo (e.g., punks, gypsies, skaters, it girls, etc). All characters are divided into different cards for heads, cores, and feet. To collect characters, each team must accomplish various challenges throughout the game. The team earns a number of cards according to their performance in each challenge and the team who completes more characters is the winner.

This game is excellent to stimulate responsiveness, memory and logical thinking. Besides, parents can play with kids to help kids increase their vocabulary.

1st place at the 4th National Game Design Competition (2008)
The goal is to complete as many characters as possible.
We wanted to introduce the beauty of our diverse city.

Game Rules

The game is composed of three types of cards:

  • Character-cards: separated between heads, cores, and feet.
  • Letter-cards: cards that contain one letter of the alphabet.
  • Lucky-cards: cards that make players earn or lose character-cards.

At the beginning of the game, each team receives 10 letter-cards. Both teams start at the opening point, and they play odds and evens to decide who will start. In each round, players must take one move forward, always following the arrows (they cannot move backward). They can choose which of the two balloons they want to land according to their strategy.
The board has two types of balloons:

  • Yellow balloon: here the players will find names of different places such as the mall, school, and kitchen. They will choose one letter-card and they will have to say many words related to the place that starts with the selected letter-card. The time will countdown using the hourglass. For example, if the player stops on the school balloon and they choose the letter-card ‘E’, they will have to say school-related words that start with E (e.g., education, eraser, etc). Letter-cards can only be used once. Players will receive one character-card per corrected word.
  • Red balloon: when players stop on a red balloon, they must draw a card from the lucky-cards pile. They might get lucky and win character-cards or be unlucky and lose character-cards.

The team that completes more characters is the winner. In case of a tie, wins the team who has more remaining character-cards.

Tribo das Palavras – versions

The board game has three versions. The first version won the 4th National Game Design Competition in 2008, and was exhibited in Germany in 2009. A year later, Estrela bought our project and redesigned the interface to launch the game, which led to the second version. Finally, in 2019 when our contract ended, Estrela re-launched the game replacing the tribes to characters from Turma da Mônica (the most famous Brazilian comic book).

The first version of Tribo das Palavras (all versions differ in visual communication, but not in gameplay).
Lucky-cards – When players land on a red balloon, they receive one lucky-card and they can win or lose character-cards.
Players can choose which path they want to take according to their strategies.

Design and development

This was an academic project for a design class at Senac University. The proposal was to build a board game inspired by São Paulo. That said, as a first step we took a tour throughout the city. We visited many historical places, took pictures and walked across various boroughs. After reflecting on our experience, we decided to celebrate the diversity of people in Sao Paulo city. Our goal was to represent many tribes and fashion styles that you can encounter in a visit to SP – this project was developed in 2008, and nowadays this concept of tribes has significantly changed because individuals have their unique characteristics that cannot be categorized.

The next stage was brainstorming. We discussed many ideas and we made a list with the feasible ideas considering time constraint and budget limit. The biggest part of the project was to create the game rules and simulate interactions to ensure effectiveness of gameplay. We created a rapid prototype composed of pieces of paper and simple hand drawings. Then, we tested and revised the game many times with peers and kids. This long process of revisions led to a refined set of game rules.

The first draft of characters (from left to right: gypsy, emo, punk and hippie.
Board game of our first version.

Exhibition in Germany

We had the honor to exhibit Tribo das Palavras at the Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany. Every year this fair brings together more than 2 thousand exhibitors from over 60 countries. Spielwarenmesse is a specialized trade fair that only trade professionals can attend.

Bought by Estrela

We also had the opportunity to see our game being distributed nationwide in Brazil. In 2009, Estrela launched the game, and ten years later they re-launched a new version using Turma da Mônica as the theme. This third version of the game is available for purchase.


Senac University advertised our accomplishments on major newspapers in Brazil such as Folha and Estadão.

Bolinhas de Sabão para Maria
CHILD’S MOMENT (customer review – third version)
Americanas (to purchase)