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Educational Board Game Design. Part One Advantages, Limitations, Types & Structures. Strengths of Board Games. Easily Stored Self-Contained Familiar Format. Limitations of Board Games. Class use requires multiple copies

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Educational Board Game Design

Part OneAdvantages, Limitations,Types & Structures


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Strengths of Board Games

  • Easily Stored

  • Self-Contained

  • Familiar Format


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Limitations of Board Games

  • Class use requires multiple copies

  • Easily played just for fun unless the educational content is well integrated

  • Losing one piece can render the whole game useless (though less so than for card games)


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Types of Board Games

  • Linear Movement or Race Games

    • Pieces move along a path (e.g. Monopoly, Candy Land)

  • 2-D Pattern Games

    • Object is to build patterns of pieces (e.g. Go, Othello, Scrabble)


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Types of Board Games

  • Battlefield

    • Pieces attack other pieces, removing them from the board (e.g., Chess, Risk)

  • Combination

    • Games which combine elements of the other 3 categories (e.g. Backgammon)


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Board Game Design Phases

  • Do Front End Work

  • Draft a Preliminary Design

  • Produce Prototype

  • Conduct Field Trials

  • Revise as Needed

  • Publish, Disseminate and/or Use


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In Search of Elegance

  • Elegance = congruity between the forms of the game and structures within the content, such as...

    • Movement through space, time

    • Shortcuts

    • Obstacles

    • Patterns of elements

    • Prizes, trophies, treasures


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Example Content+Game Structures

  • Content: Movement through space or time

    • Getting a Masters degree

    • Stages of digestion

    • Evolution

    • The process of impeachment

  • Game: paths in a race game


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Example Content+Game Structures

  • Content: Shortcuts

    • Marrying into money

    • Mutation

    • Scientific breakthrough

    • Finding the “smoking gun”

  • Game: jumping along or between paths in a race game


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Example Content+Game Structures

  • Content: Obstacles

    • Insufficient money or other resources

    • Not enough votes

    • Mountains or deserts to cross

    • Lack of data

  • Game: blockage in paths in a race game or the absence of a path


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Example Content+Game Structures

  • Content: Patterns of Elements as Goal

    • Balanced meals

    • Balanced life

    • Electoral College votes

  • Game: acquisition of cards or tokens in particular combinations


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Example Content+Game Structures

  • Content: Elements with different levels of power

    • Superintendent vs Principal vs. teacher

    • Large countries vs small

    • Microsoft vs just about anyone else

  • Game: use of game pieces that can move more flexibly or that can overcome other pieces


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Example Content+Game Structures

  • Content: Elements with different levels of value

    • Rare coins vs common ones

    • Real estate in La Jolla vs. somewhere else

    • Gold vs silver vs bronze medals

  • Game: tokens or play money to allow the acquisition of these elements or to use as scorekeeping devices


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Example Content+Game Structures

  • Content: Choices and Decisions

    • Go on to college, or get a job?

    • Attack the Nazis now, or wait?

    • Buy Qualcomm or Apple stock?

  • Game: branches in the path of a race game, or strategies for deploying pieces or tokens.


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Example Content+Game Structures

  • Content: Variations in Risk

    • Buying futures options vs. stocks

    • Running an attack ad against your opponent

    • Quitting your job to start a small business

  • Game: parallel paths with more penalty squares on the shorter path, or chance cards in different stacks depending on risk.


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Example Content+Game Structures

  • Content: Changing Environment

    • The stock market turns from bullish to bearish

    • After the revolution, those closest to the king are now most in danger

    • Drastic climate change bodes ill for reptiles

  • Game: changing the rules or structures during the game.


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Example Content+Game Structures

  • Content:Random or Uncontrolled Events

    • Weather

    • Prices of raw materials

    • Other people’s behavior

  • Game: dice, spinners, or chance cards


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