Steps for creating a new game

Posted By on Mar 6, 2011

Play is powerful stuff. I had the tremendous good fortune to take part in Play4Agile, an Unconference on games for Agile teams held near Frankfurt, Germany two weekends ago. It was a tremendous amount of fun and a really intense learning experience — there were so many skilled and enthusiastic people there to learn from and create with that a goodly number of new games were generated over the course of the weekend.

One of the (many) really helpful sessions I took part in was a session on designing games organized by Antti Kirjavainen and Ole Jepsen. I’d already started collaborating on a game with a small gang of people, and we all attended this workshop in order to figure out where to go next with our ideas. Annti gave us a road map for developing a new game:

1) Vision: Why should people play this game? What will they learn? What will they achieve?

2) Identify:

  • Objectives – what are the intended outcomes of the game?
  • Constraints – what the limitations for the activity (how may players, how long might it take, what supplies are available)?
  • Use contexts – who will use this game and how?

3) Brainstorm! – generate a pile of ideas for building a coherent activity

4) Define the game concepts:

  • what do the players do?
  • what is the goal of the game?
  • when does the play end?
  • what are the game objects?
  • what are the main features of the game?

5) Generate test questions to evaluate the game:

  • Is it fun?
  • Are the players engaged?
  • Is it scalable?
  • Is it potentially viral?
  • Do players get the intended ideas?

6) Create a prototype

7) Play test

8) Consider the answers to the test questions based on experience, and go back to step 4.

While this map is simple, creating a game itself is not, thought an idea can grown into a game quite quickly.  My next post will get into the nitty-gritty of how we put together the first version of “Nobody’s Perfect” in about 5 hours.

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