Board Game Design Class: Weeks 3 and 4

Based off how Week 2 felt chaotic and more disorganized, I decided to launch the students into their board game design groups earlier than I planned to.  I made these random groups, as I wanted to boost the most creativity out of the students as well as make sure students didn’t get left out if their friends all grouped up and there wasn’t enough space.  After I split these students up into 5 groups of 3, I talked about the game design kits and what components were in them.  Then, I had the class brainstorm about different themes and educational subjects.

For example, students could do a World War 2 themed game, and teach facts about WW2.  Or students could do a adventure game where they could teach skills of survival.  After we brainstormed ideas up on the board, the students then began to open their kits and introduce themselves to their group members.  Students shared favorite hobbies, movies, shows, books, in order to find some commonality.  Some students immediately started with complex ideas of D&D-esque adventures, while others mostly talked about favorite hobbies and TV shows to try and narrow down theme ideas.

Most students loved the idea of time travel in their games especially because they can connect to many different eras of time.  This will also help in the educational part of their game, as they aren’t limited to one empire or time frame. So far, nearly every group is doing a strategy game, while only one other group is doing more of a casual party game.  These students didn’t seem content with just making something simple, and want to challenge themselves to make a more complex game.

Week 4 came around, and I decided to talk about “Choosing your audience”.  I had the students try and brainstorm what age group, game experience, game time, and previous educational knowledge needed to play their game.  This allowed the students to give a better focus to their game and more things to think about.  I explained it wouldn’t work well to have a game teaching Algebra to toddlers.  Knowing your audience can solidify game details.

By Week 4, students did seem to narrow down their ideas, most groups started making cards and imagining their game board.  Some groups even started making art for their game. The students don’t seem afraid at all to try something, scrap it, and start from scratch.  It’s the beauty of middle school aged students, that they don’t fear their idea is sound until they test it themselves.

Next week, I’ll be introducing games with back story and flavor text.  Since in almost every group, there’s 1-2 students just focusing on mechanics, I figure it would work well that some students could work on the story of the game.  Everyone has different strengths, so trying to include stories, artwork, mechanics, into the lessons in order to guide students along and make sure each is participating.

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