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GCG: ‘Results from the Balance Board Design Challenge’

GameCareerGuide recently asked readers to invent a game concept for the Wii Balance Board. The three most interesting and commercially viable submissions and commentar
GameCareerGuide, Gamasutra's sister site for aspiring game developers, recently asked readers to invent a game concept for the Wii Balance Board. The three most interesting and commercially viable submissions are posted alongside commentary from game designer and lead judge of the challenges Manveer Heir. (Image this page by Max Michaud-Shields.) The posts are part of a weekly series of Game Design Challenges, which allow aspiring game developers to flex their creative and problem-solving muscles in the game development space. For those whose only point of contact with the game industry has been as a consumer, the challenges help them restructure the way they think about and perceive video games. The Wii Balance Board is a peripheral that isn’t necessarily suited for controlling most games, and the variety of submissions that answered the challenge were surprising. For example, the top-rated submission, sent in by mechanical engineering student from Brunel University Marc Vousden, is essentially a board game (see page 2 for the full design concept) that adds factors of timing and balance to the strategy. A game of this order would require loads of play testing and design experimentation before anyone could figure out how to make it fun, but Vousden goes a long way by explaining the kinds of things designers could experiment with. For example, there's the amount of time a player has to make a move, how the Balance Board detects movement and positioning, and how game piece positions translate into on-screen representation. Manveer Heir, lead judge and writer of the challenges, says, “The point of this exercise wasn’t merely to take an existing game idea and shoehorn a new control scheme onto it (though there are some submissions, including our top rated one, that did this well in spite of this). Rather, the key was to come up with an idea for a kind of gameplay that would substantially change when used on the new control scheme, adding something new to the core game mechanic.” The two other notable submissions came from aspirin game designer Max Michaud-Shields, whose concept boiled down to “astronauts with snowboards,” and Westwood College Online student Everett V Hubbard, who designed a children’s game based on Disney’s Aladdin IP in which the Balance Board becomes the player’s magic carpet. A new Game Design Challenge about creating a game for a Dr. Seuss book, was posted earlier this week. Experienced game developers are invited to submit entries (the deadline to submit the short text-based entries is Wednesday, February 4) or to visit the forum and give advice to the aspiring game developers.

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