You've Read 'The Canterbury Tales.' Prepare to Play the Board Game.

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A dozen years ago, Alf Seegert was into playing solo video games, and his wife-to-be was feeling left out. "Can't we play something together?" she asked Mr. Seegert, who works today as an assistant professor/lecturer in the University of Utah's English department.

That conversation led Mr. Seegert to The Settlers of Catan, a board game that the couple has been playing as a Saturday-night ritual with friends ever since. He became so enamored of games of that genre, which are known as German-style or Eurogames, that 10 years ago he decided to try making some of his own. He joined the Board Game Designers Guild of Utah, a group of like-minded geeks who test drive one another's creations and offer advice and camaraderie.

Today Mr. Seegert is a five-time finalist at the Hippodice Game Competition—"the Sundance of board games," he calls it—a German contest in which designers like himself try to get noticed by established publishers. Eventually two of his games, Trollhalla and Bridge Troll, got published, and he was hooked. "I like making games where you get to play the bad guy," says Mr. Seegert, who spends a good deal of his time working over his ideas in a quest for the next hit.

He was teaching Chaucer in an "Intellectual Traditions" course when inspiration struck, resulting in his forthcoming game, The Road to Canterbury....

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