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Subject: Teaching board game design to kids rss

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Kevin Finkle
United States
Oregon
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Hi all,

I run the arts and crafts program for a week-long summer camp and this year's theme is games. As the project, the 75 campers ranging in age from 7 to 15 will be creating their own board games. I have game components (dice, pawns, playing cards, blank cards, and blank game boards) for them to use. The campers will be coming to me in cabin groups of 8 to 16 campers at a time and roughly by age group. I will have each group for two one-and-a-half hour sessions during the week. Have any of you done anything like this before? Any pointers would be appreciated.

For the youngest kids I plan to limit the design to roll and move type games. I will give them a blank board and a pair of dice and have them draw out a path of some sort. For the older kids it will be more open ended. I will probably have a list of game mechanics and some examples of games for them to use as examples.

Please let me know if you have any ideas.

Thanks,

Kevin
 
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Andrea Ligabue
Italy
Modena
Italy
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I have had similar courses in school. The first things you have to do is show them different games from clue and monopoly otherwise they will build up always the same things ...

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Liga
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Mike Petty
United States
Lapeer
Michigan
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This sounds like a fun activity they will enjoy. I work in schools and I've seen teachers do projects where they make games. (Since I work with instructional tech, I don't get to help much unless they're doing digital games.) Almost all the students get excited about the creation process and playing each other's final products.

I have run a few sessions with adults at Protospiel where we try to make games in a short time. We usually did it in one hour, but the participants had a lot of experience to draw on.

The idea of showing some example games is good. I've found without clear examples most of them make a Monopoly board. Clearly Monopoly had to be invented. A track around the perimeter of a square board must be hardwired into the human brain.

I'd suggest having three or four other styles and actually demo a couple turns along with the goal. I've tried to just show the games and talk about mechanics, but they need to see the fun.

I'm thinking these would mostly be very simple games played with dice or cards. Crazy Eights, Go Fish, Memory and Pig come to mind. These are games they could easily expand on. I'd have very short rules printed for these along with possible ways they could add rules, add themes or possibly even combine the games, just to get them thinking. Of course, remind them to think of other games they've played that they might want to use as a starting point.

Be sure to have a sheet of additional resources to explore if they like the project. I tell students about The Game Crafter as a possible place to print a good version of the game. This would make a great family project when they get back home.

Here is a blog post where I compiled a few thoughts and resources I share when working with students on game design. The tips are to provide a balance of encouragement to pursue it as a great hobby and being realistic. Again, most of it relates to computer games. Students immediately get excited about them as a way to get rich without actually working. Much of it does apply to tabletop games too. Links point to other things I've written or that I've found elsewhere.

http://classroomgamesandtech.blogspot.com/2013/08/8-things-i...

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Jeffrey Allers
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Berlin
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I wrote about my game design workshop for grade schoolers here:

http://opinionatedgamers.com/2013/06/14/postcard-from-berlin...

It was for the Project Week at the end of the year for a local elementary school.

I also did a weeklong game design workshop at an English Camp, where I had significantly less time (about an hour a day). For that, we all designed a game together, with students delegated to different parts of the production.

I then scanned in their work and make copies so that each student could take the game home.
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Kathleen Mercury
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
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Please check out my student game design Geeklists! You rock!
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I teach board game design to middle school students in a semester long class. I have a lot of materials posted on my website at www.kathleenmercury.com.

Here's a geeklist of my student project geeklists.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/156902/meta-geeklist-m...

I'm happy to help in any way.
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K H
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Although this response is too late for the original event, maybe somebody else will see it in time to apply it to some future event.

Since you only get about 3 hours total with each camper, be sure to stress the importance of NOT spending time on pretty artwork at the beginning of the design process. Insist that campers make a complete "ugly first draft", play test it, and further develop the mechanics before spending any time on better art than "scribbles".

You might break down your time as follows:
Day 1
+ 30 minutes to demonstrate various existing games
+ 45 minutes to create an ugly first draft
+ 15 minutes to play test the game
Day 2
+ 30 minutes to make changes and play test the game again
+ 60 minutes to make a pretty final draft
 
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