I’m taking a game design class this semester that’s taught me a lot about designing and evaluating systems. The goal is to create a system that’s flexible enough to allow for strategy and emergent play but defined enough to place logical constraints on behavior.
This class is very pointedly NOT about graphic design. We use existing prototyping materials and we’re not supposed to create any objects for the games other than a simple rule set. it’s been challenging to learn how to work on design problems without my usual visual toolset, and it’s made me realize how often I turn to visual solutions when I should be thinking harder about systems as a whole.
We’ve designed, tested and submitted two games so far, a physical game and a tabletop game. Next up is my final, which I plan to build as a digital game. (That one will have some visual elements, and I’m excited about them.) Here’s what I’ve made with classmates so far (Titles are linked to rules.):
Predator vs. Pack is a sort of tag/werewolf hybrid. The game started out trying to test how humans act in and switch from solo predator to pack predator strategies, and morphed into something really more fun than is sounds.
PvP involves secrets, teamwork and a lot of running around, so you should get a workout. The game is built for four to 10 players, and you’ll need some cards and some sort of flag system. We used flag football flags, but you could just as easily use fabric scraps tucked in pockets or waistbands.
Jack bluffs like a pro …
Royal Bluff is like Bullshit with some extra twists thrown in. It’s for 3 or 4 players, and you’ll need a deck of cards, a 10-sided die (or an app that generates random numbers from 1 to 10), 2 red poker chips, 2 black poker chips, a white poker chip and an opaque bag.
If you play either game, I’d love your feedback on what we built. Both games are very simple systems, but designing them has been way more challenging than it appears. We’ve spent a lot of hours testing and iterating this semester. We’ve also spent a lot of time playing other games, and I’ve grown to admire how game designers balance probabilities and choices and create actions and constraints. I’m excited to adapt and apply these skills to other work.