Just Your Truckin' Luck

| September 22, 2009

Idaho potato hauler rolls the dice and delivers new trucking board game

One of Randy Cox’s favorite pet inclusions among the trucking minutiae part and parcel of his new My Truckin’ Luck board game, out this summer, is a rule governing what happens when you roll a double six and advance to a weigh station on your route across the U.S. map that is the field of play, from Washington State to Florida. “You automatically lose your turn and are fined $700,” he says, for an hours-of-service violation.

As you advance along the circuitous route through the 48 continental United States, you’ll hit plenty of other surprises. Striving to be true to the reality of an owner-operator’s life in business on the road, there’s a key, for instance, that, paired with a roll of the dice, determines your income for a particular move, both the revenue you’re paid for a particular load and the price of your fuel. Gray, blank spaces on the board represent natural disasters – like one in Wyoming that nets you a lost turn due to a winter highway closure. “There’s ice in Missouri,” Cox says, “snowstorms in Colorado. If you land on Vegas or Atlantic City you have to stop and gamble,” rolling the dice twice – the first roll determines your winnings, the second your losses.

When three players reach the end of the board, the game is over – the player with the best income wins.

So far, Cox has himself invested $45,000 in the game over almost two years of development.

If there’s a man out there to make the venture a success, it’s Cox, says Juan Mendez, vice president of the Kalamazoo, Mich.-based Imagigraphics outfit that printed and is helping market the game. “[Cox is] a great person for this to become very successful for,” Mendez says. “He’s got his heart and soul in the game. He absolutely would be the perfect one to make it work.”

Cox got into trucking sideways after working in the pallet business in his native Blackfoot, Idaho. “I bought and sold pallets before trucking,” says the 55-year-old. The business utilized a truck, and in 1993 Cox got his authority in order to otherwise employ that rig “when we weren’t hauling pallets.” Since, he’s moved loads of potatoes all over the country, three of his four sons sometimes part of the business, too. One of them, 27-year-old Scott, can take credit for the My Truckin’ Luck name. “When I first came up with the idea,” Cox says, “I called up my sons. I said, ‘There’s no game about trucking out there’ and told them to be thinking of a good name. Scott said, ‘Dad, it’s gotta be My Truckin’ Luck.’”

As both he and his son recognize, the phrase captures the spirit of the life and work of the small-business hauler, one often infused with a sardonic sense of humor, after all. “I can’t think of a better name for a game in this industry,” Cox says. “I think that the name of the game alone will sell games for us.

“When you really think about it, there is no bigger industry than trucking – every other industry there is has a connection to it. In talking to people over the past 18 months about the game, I’ve learned that near everybody knows somebody who has something to do with trucking.” All manner of people around the world have expressed interest, including educators keen on the game’s geographical educational potential.

After setting up at both the Great Salt Lake Truck Show in Salt Lake City and the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas this August, at press time Cox was working with a distributor to the major truckstop chains to get his game on the shelves. For now, it retails for $29.95 at mytruckinluck.com.

Become a Trucker Online
Trukz (http://trukz.com) is a two-year-old online game that allows players to virtually experience the ins and outs of the owner-operator’s world, right down to offers to lease on when you buy your first truck.

Created by a Texas-based game developer, it was bought and marketed by the Jolt Online company (http://joltonline.com) just over a year ago, says company rep Paul Abbott. “The original vision,” simply put, Abbott adds, “was to create a free-to-play online game which simulated trucking and was also a bit of fun.”

Though it might take you a while to get to genuine profitability; true to life, you start low, with options to purchase several older-model trucks. (The engine in the 1981 Pete cabover my driver, Dill Todd, bought just starting out is so downtrodden it provides a top speed of only 45 mph.) From there, you choose loads from several points within the United States, choosing your commodities based on supply and demand in the origin and destination cities, deciding whether to lease on with the array of user-created companies that offer you top rates to join them and buying and using gadgets like CBs and GPS units along the way.
(The CB, for instance, is a real-time chat room the game’s players use to connect.)

Abbott says a “huge percentage of players in the game are real-life truckers.” He estimates 40 percent of the more than 106,000 drivers created to date were the productions of actual truckers running American roads today. He credits those haulers with giving the game its realistic feel in play, unique among trucking games: “They provide enormous feedback into the game’s features and community. We never thought that we have would have such interest from the trucking community, to be honest, so we were a little taken aback. Many of our features come from the trucking community, and generally all the realistic aspects in the game that you see (breakdowns, engineering aspects, etc.) come directly from them.”

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