Eric Alvarado
United States
Haverstraw
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Greetings BGGers,

I am looking to pickup a few college courses since I work at a university. I am current working a couple of games and would love to sharpen my design skills with some education. Any recommendations of what classes I should take?

Cheers,
Eric
 
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Чебурашка, ты настоящий друг!
United Kingdom
Durham
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Taking a history course might give you an idea for a setting, regardless of whether you want to design a "history-themed" Euro or a wargame.
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I have no clue!

But I would guess that art/design would be good.

I would think some study of story whether through lit or film would be good for the theme/story aspect.

Also take some math and systems design courses to help you work out the aspects of the games?

I hate to say this, but I wonder if getting hired by a small game company where you could game test and work closely with the people doing this wouldn't be a better use of your time.

A degree can help, but nothing will ever beat on the job experience. You will learn the reality of the tasks at hand and have to problem solve to make your goals come to fruition.
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Celina
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Take a philosophy class. Training in thinking is always useful.
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James Hutchings
Australia
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If you want to self-publish, a course on running a small business.
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James Hutchings
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A good person to ask might be Ian Schreiber, who wrote this online course on board game design.

He also has this blog (his email is given in the entry 'Lessons from SIEGE'), and a twitter feed.

Note that most courses on "game design" seem to be about video games.
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Erik Tietz
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Bloomington
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Fantasy Flight designer Tim Uren had an article recently published in a local paper about the strange path his career has taken (comedy theater -> games). He cites creative writing as great preparation.


http://www.minnesotaplaylist.com/magazine/article/2009/11/18...
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Fischjello
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Minnesota
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I second the creative writing and would encourage marketing as well.
 
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Klaus Brune
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Torrance
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If you're going to want to design your own components or unusual board shapes, then geometry and trigonometry are your friends (both helped innumerably when I was designing dice towers and my 3D geomorphic volcano board).

If you're going to want to promote your game online, then something in web design or even programming, along with web marketing (search engine optimization, social networks, etc).

If you're writing the rulebook yourself, and especially if there's going to be a lot of theme - background story, history, etc - then a course in writing, perhaps even creative writing. A bit of desktop publishing knowledge wouldn't hurt either.
 
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Scott Bluerock
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I recall physics class where we simplified drawings of circuits down to a basic layout and often wonder how some games could be broken down to their basic layout in a similar fashion.
I would venture to say math/statistics would be key in making a game that has a structure fair to all players and that flows well, with design and art to fancy it up. Of course the history of a subject if that's the way you are going.
 
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Tom
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Plainfield
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While I would say good technical writing over creative (nothing wrong with creative but plenty of kids I teach don't understand metaphors), I would also always have another set of eyes/editor on the staff. MY first choice of classes would be game theory.

Game theory is not about game design, but is comprised of several theoretical models that use applied mathematics to predict and or model social, economic, and political behavior. I have run a few studies, and the CDC uses these mathematically models for studying contagion patterns, to how long a rumor takes to spread throughout a school, who hears the rumor first, and how many variations of the rumor will exist. Some of the best games that use this (whether the boardgame designer intended it) include Agricola and Brass where there is not one strategy to win and often you must adopt your strategy based on other people's moves in order to maximize your success. In other words making choices largely depends on the choices of others.

Here is a website that is a bit clunky and has some other issues but it gives you a general idea:
http://www.gametheory.net/

The problem is which college you work at. I hate to sound jaded but many colleges do not offer advanced classes like game theory to undergrads. I took game theory as an applied theory class as an undergrad in order to further understand sociological behavior models and historical revisionism.

I will give you an example. I never have a master plan going into Brass. I let the cards and the other players help me decide what to play. There are certainly strategies but Brass is not a game where a person can ignore what everyone else does and play one strategy and win. While many boardgames include this in the rules some games are far more refined. The best games of strategy (at least in my opinion) are when there are several high risk high gain strategies that rarely win (but will win if no one confronts the high risk strategy player)because the game provides several mechanisms to balance game play. In these games the strategies that often give a player a victory are the ones where the player avoids too many direct confrontations and frequently takes the actions that other players are ignoring or are left them (The Art of War Approach).

Game theory can also help a player get better. A good player never relies on one strategy choice which is easily defeated when someone else selects their master plan choice. I tell people in order to avoid AP, when it is not your turn think of four or five strategies and then select the best one that is left for you after everyone has taken their turn. People frequently get too caught up in what they want to do versus what they can do. Perfect example would be Agricola where someone at the table shouts "you took my wood" and they look in dismay because they never came up with a contingency plan.


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David Whitcher
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Manchester
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If you’re not already strong in these areas Creative and Technical Writing are at the top of the list. It doesn’t matter how good your game is if you don’t have the means to explain it in writing.
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Steve R Bullock
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If you plan to design Eurogames, take lots of math and accounting classes. Almost every Eurogame I have ever played depends heavily on counting.

Ameritrash? Art classes, creative writing, history. Almost anything. But very little if any math needed. Just enough to count dice pips.

And that really is the biggest difference between Eurogames and Ameritrash.

The math.

And the little plastic toys.

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Filip W.
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Euros are better with dice!
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Math, math and more math.

Start with discrete mathematics, then logic and either advanced combinatorial math (you should have gotten the basics in discrete) or basic vector analysis (to get the matrices).

Keep studying math until you can do Markov analysis and work out the diagrams in your head. Then you can work on setting and theme
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Clive Lovett
Canada
Kamloops
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ALthough I believe any course you take will give you important knowledge (even for designing games), here are some courses that I recommend:

For game design:

Any Arts or Science based course (History, Geography, Political Science, Biology etc.) to give you a broad understanding of the world). The more knowledge you have the better! The more knowledge of your theme the better.
Math - two courses - math for teachers and statistics (specifically probabilities and chance).


For artistic design:
Graphic arts (basic layout and colour principles) - Computer Arts (Photoshop, Illustrator).


 
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Erik Tietz
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Bloomington
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fischjello wrote:
I second the creative writing and would encourage marketing as well.


Says the marketing copy writer. No bias here
 
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Marshall Miller
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Malden
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Here are my recommendations:
Take a film class to immerse yourself in theme (also, don't want to over do it with the course work and classes are sometimes held at night for screenings)

Take math classes, especially probability and/or Bayesian stats...

Take an intro psychology class, they're really fun and interesting and cover such a broad range that you won't get bored.

Take a popular culture class, this is such an oddly defined area that you can probably write your term paper on board games and no one will bat an eye.

Finally, take a biology or nutrition course. Biological and organ systems are intricate and self balancing. Conceptually very neat with themes ripe for he taking.
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Donal Hegarty
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Webster Groves
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I would recommend three things

take small business focued coarses. It will.occupy most of you time if you self publish so learn it or be prepared for pain and financial toubles. If you don't self publish you will have q much better idea of the punlishers problems which will make for a better relationship which makes the game the focus not rangling over the color of meeples.


Take user interface focused classes. Unless you are already a graphics person or freakishly gifted your game will look self published. Sometime very nice but if your game interface is not understandable and clear your game will be buried. Grahics are to support the game functioning firstly theme and attraction are close behind but every barrier you put in the players way will reduce the pickup of the game and can make or break your game. Don't hide your game under a bussel albeit a pretty one.

Firstly be aware No one can be aLl things to all men. Graphic design, illustration, tecH writing, creative writing are all skilled jobs that take years to master at a professional level.

Unless you plan to take lot of coarses I would suggest you use your coarses to get an understanding of the various fields and develop relationsips with the best in your classes to have a outside skill relevant reviewer to give constructive(even if it may be negative) or you might even get a little bit pro bono work from them. Although don't go in looking for free work. That is taking advantage but most people are happy to give their (professional) 2 cents
 
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Nick Hayes
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Here's one that hasn't been mentioned:

If you're interested in the physical creation of board game components, look into Industrial Design. It has nothing to do with designing the mechanics of a game, but everything to do with building the actual game.
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Trent Hopkins
United States
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Thank you all for posting. I am a college student, love playing board games and am seriously interested in designing board games. I will definitely look at these websites.
 
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