Building games together!

Being a game designer sometimes brings new and unexpected challenges. Last week I was asked to help out with an event at a local community centre, where a group of people banded together to make a game. Here’s a bit of the story – and perhaps a challenge for all of you!

The day: April 6th. The weather: nice. The traffic: horrible. Gridlocked people needed extra time to arrive, but eventually a nice group of eight people appeared in the Wawer Community Centre to try their hand at becoming a game designer. The objective: making a game (or a few games) together.

Spinning the tale of how a prototype (the white box) becomes a game (Shadowscape box)

As I said, it was a challenge for me personally. I have been a teacher almost all my life. I taught people English, I taught how to translate, I have also been a game explainer since I went back into the board gaming hobby ten years ago. Still, it was the first time I was asked to actually share my design knowledge with people who had had no previous experience making their own games.

Now, to be absolutely clear, your truly was merely a guest at the event, invited to help with an innovative and interesting project, but I was also allowed to leave a bit of my mark. That meant I was able to tell the group about the whole road a game has to travel from some scribbles on a piece of paper, to landing on store shelves – and on gamer tables.

During the meeting, the buddying game designers also tried an interesting team-building exercise: they were asked to build towers made of newspapers and scotch tape, all in two stages. The first was planning, and the second was actual building. There was a twist, however, as they were not allowed to communicate verbally during the second stage.

Tower (and team!) building in process.

Let’s take a quick detour now, to quickly mention Strawberry Studio. As you might now, Strawberry Studio is a daughter company of NSKN Games, which specializes in ultra-light games. Games like 3 Wishes, What’s Up or Strawberry Ninja, which – with but a few components – fit into your pocket, and play in under 30 minutes (often way under).

Coming back to the game design group, after the towers had been erected, and then put to the test (people were blowing on them to see if they could still stand), we ended up with four teams of people who tried – and enjoyed! – working with each other. The time was right to challenge the just created teams, and a challenge they received.

Tower destruction in process.

Our team experiences with Strawberry Studio taught us that a game can be made with just a few cards, so that is what the group was challenged to do: make a game out of nine cards (so that it’s print and play can easily fit on a sheet of paper), using the rock-paper-scissors mechanism as a base.

What incredible ideas the newly formed teams came up with? I’ll tell you about them next time. For now I would like to issue the same challenge to anyone who’s reading this. Make a print and play that fits on nine cards and uses rock-paper-scissors, and tell us in the comments section – and we’ll gladly take a look at, give you some feedback and.. maybe a bit more than that 🙂

So, what do you say? Who’s ready to become a game designer?

PS. If you speak Polish, here’s the Facebook link to the event itself!


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