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Board Game Design

Programming theory begins with defining objects and explaining processes and steps in a clear and explicit language.

A great way to have experience explaining processes and steps is by the creation of an original board game.

Building your own board game
  1. Determine the age limits for which you want to create a board game. Knowing the age range of your tentative players would allow you to design the game as simple or as detailed as you wish it to be, and would allow you to create age-appropriate rules. For instance, if you are designing the game for young children, you would want to create something that is simple, easy-to-understand, fun, and would promote camaraderie and learning among the children at the same time. For adults, you could create something that is more competitive and exciting.
  2. Think of a theme for your game. Are you interested to create a game that is based on some skill, such as Pictionary, Scrabble or Clue? Or are you more interested to create a path game that is purely based on luck and chance, such as Chutes and Ladders? If so, will it be one where you are a pirate and must travel the seas to find lost treasure, or will you be trapped in haunted mansion and must avoid the monsters and ghosts? Use your imagination when deciding.You can even make the theme about a book! You could use ideas from existing games to help you get started.
  3. Map out the rules and directions for the game. As much as possible, try to keep the rules simple, so that new players will catch on quickly and will have a fun playing experience in general. Here are some things to keep in mind when creating the rules:
    • What is the end goal of the game?
    • How would the players win?
    • What is the minimum and maximum number of players that can play?
    • Is the game meant purely for enjoyment purposes, educational purposes, or a mixture of both?
    • What are the pieces needed for the game? (Players' markers, dice, cards, etc.)
  4. Sketch a rough draft of your board design. This will allow you to determine whether you need to include more or less details in your final design. For path games, make sure to add start and finishing places, and to set out a clear path or road for the character(s) to travel along. You can choose to create your own designs for the images and pictures that will go on your game, but if you would rather use ready-made images, there are many resources on the Internet that you can do a search on and download.
  5. Find a material for your base board. You can use a long sheet of paper, but it would be better to choose a sturdier material such as cardboard, card stock or poster board, so that your game pieces won't get knocked-over if there is a breeze. You can even use old pizza boxes, or the cardboard in old binders. Another option would be to use the board from an old game that you do not use anymore, and just paint over it or cover with clean paper for you to create the new game design on. Decorate the board with the design that you sketched. Note: If you do decide to use paper for your base it can be laminated so it's waterproof and won't get easily ripped apart.
    • There is no limit to the things that you can use to decorate your board -- use ready-made printouts, patterned paper, paint, markers -- anything that will allow you to jazz up your board and make your design pop-up!
    • Make your board design as vibrant as possible, so as to capture and maintain the interest of your players.
  6. Create the game pieces. You can draw the images on paper, then tape or glue them to your preferred material, such as light cardboard (the type used on cereal boxes). To make the pieces stand, cut out a strip of cardboard that you can fold into a 3D triangle (similar to picture frame stands), then stick to the back of the piece for support. Another way to make game pieces that stand is to glue craft foam to the bottom of the folded piece of paper. You could also use pieces from other game sets. You can make the character pieces in line with the the place markers such as cards or tokens, draw these out as well. Good materials to use for the game cards are index cards or cardstock.
    • If your game involves the use of a dice or spinner, you can just use the ones from your existing games, or create your own from cardboard and markers.
    • Print out the directions for your game as well, so that players can just refer to that in case you are not around to explain the rules.
  7. Test and retest. Test your prototype design with patient friends and family in order to iron out any unforeseen bugs or pitfalls. Ensure that the game rules are fair and that the game concept is fun and educational to the target audience.


Students design board games based on either a particular type of technology or software package. They must come up with questions and their answers, design and make the board, write directions, create the game pieces, and then teach another group how to play it.

You will work in groups of 2-3 to design a board game based on a topic or theme of your choosing.

To do this, you will need to research your topic thoroughly and document your resources.

Day by day breakdown:

1. Choose partners. Determine your theme and how your game will be played; 1 day (Monday)
2. Research your theme; 2 days (Tuesday-Weds)
3. Brainstorm ideas for the layout of the board and how the game will be played; 1 day (Thurs)
4. Create a rough draft of the board on paper; 2 days (Monday & Tues)

5. Create the final board using the criteria below: 4 days

The final game board will be done on mat board cut to 20" x 24" (51 x 61 cm). 

Squares or other shapes used around the outer edge or to create pathways should be no smaller than 2" x 2" (5 x 5 cm). All lettering must be neat, consistent in size and style, and easy to read. Rules for the game should be easy to understand, typed, and mounted on cardstock. Question cards will be made of cardstock and should be no smaller than 2" x 4" (5 x 10 cm). A place for the cards should be included on your board. You will need to decide what to use as the players' token pieces and find or create them. They should somehow relate to your theme. I will provide the dice, or you may create a wheel to spin to determine turns. Color will be an important component. Use colored pencil or another material that will not warp your board.

6. Create the question cards and game pieces. Type and mount the rules. 2 days
7. Play the game yourselves; work out any "bugs:" 1 day
8. Teach another team to play it. 1 day (same day as #7)
9. Evaluate the games. 1 day

Project Due: Start of Class on Halloween Oct 31



resources documented/accurate info.- 15 pts_________

squares 2" x 2" (5 x 5 cm) or more - 5pts.___________

lettering neat, consistent, legible - 10 pts.____________

rules-understandable, typed, mounted on tagboard -15 pts.__________

question cards-size, tagboard, appropriate - 10 pts. _______________

token pieces - 5 pts.______________

craftsmanship-20 pts. _________________

playability-20 pts. _______________

Assignment #2 - Video Game Evaluation

How can you evaluate whether a game is good or not?

What is playability? What factors make a game better than another game.

Respond on your website:

1. 1 paragraph (minimum) reflection on the reading. How does it affect how you look at video games?

2. List your top 5 attributes for what makes good "playability" in a game. List your top 5 factors for what reduces "playability".

Due: End of class on Friday

Required Watching: How to Evaluate Video Games

Evaluation Example

Problem category   
1. Unpredictable / 
inconsistent response 
to user’s actions 

Key issues
poor hit detection, poor in-game 
physics, inconsistent response to 

“You'll often find yourself swinging away and watching 
your blade go right through your foes with no effect 

Problem category  
2. Does not allow 

Key issues
does not allow user to change 
video and audio settings, 
difficulty, or game speed 

“Worst of all, there is no way to adjust the game's speed. 
You're stuck constantly veering between way-too-fast 
combat and way-too-slow travel to engage enemies and 
explore maps.” 

Assignment #3 - Rise of the Video Game

Required Viewing:
Trigger Happy: The Irresistable Rise of the Video Game
Answer these questions on your websites.


1. Do you think video games will overtake film / movies in cultural popularity? Why?

2. What video game has most profoundly affected your life and how you looked at gaming? Explain.

3. Last year, video games made more than _____ % more than movie box office receipts. 

4. What magical puzzle game featured is set in a medieval castle?  

5. What is the technique called that uses humans to model the movements of video game characters?

6. True or False. Real artificial intelligence is still science fiction.

7. What is the name of the South Korean game featured that more than 10% of the population plays?

8. Susan Greenfield states that in the future, what's inside our heads will be shaped by a "cyber world". What are your thoughts on that statement? Do you think we will become more and more characterized by our digital environment?

9. What video game do you think has been the most significant "game changer" in your personal experience?

10. Last Question. Think long and hard before you answer this.
What would the world be like without video games? How would it affect how we learn? How would it affect the way we "multi task"? How would it affect our social relationships?