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Student Postmortem: The Art Of Board Game Design

Board games are the topic of a <a href="http://www.gamecareerguide.com/features/520/student_postmortem_scads_.php">new student postmortem</a> on sister site GameCareerGuide.com, as students at Savannah College of Art and Design constructed a paper-based g

Jill Duffy

April 10, 2008

2 Min Read

In a newly posted and slightly offbeat postmortem at sister site GameCareerGuide.com, Savannah College of Art and Design student David McDonough explains how making a board game is just as valuable a learning experience as making an electronic game. Rats was created as a course project for Prof. Brenda Brathwaite’s Game Design Criticism and Analysis class. A team of four students had just 10 days to whip together a playable -- and fun -- board game based around 'paranoia' - ending up with a game called Rats. One of their strengths, according to the team members, was being able to prototype extremely quickly on paper. However, finding play testers was another story, as McDonough shares in this excerpt: “The final hurdle we encountered -- almost as a kind of cosmic dig-in-the-ribs after all the trouble we’d been through -- was finding suitable people willing to play test [the game]. We knew we could never objectively judge the game we had made even in the best of circumstances, let alone on the heel of a string of failures and staring down a hard deadline. But we couldn’t ask other member of the class because, as game designers themselves, they would be equally unlikely to give us a real ‘everyman’ perspective. Had we been a few more days ahead of the deadline, it would have been a breeze to round up our non-gamer friends to try out the game. But the timetable was short and we needed to act fast. We pulled it off in the end, but it only goes to show how dangerous it is to design under a deadline. We learned first-hand why publishers and developers in the real game development industry are sometimes willing to ship games that are clearly unfinished. If we hadn’t found those play testers, we would have had no choice but to turn in the project still unproven.” You can now read the full postmortem, with photos of the board game, a paper prototype, and the students developing it at GameCareerGuide.com.

About the Author(s)

Jill Duffy

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Jill Duffy is the departments editor at Game Developer magazine. Contact her at [email protected].

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