The process of developing a board game is challenging my idea of what I think is fun, how do I make something fun, and AM I STILL FUN?
This introspective examination of my relationship with the concept of play is uncomfortable to do as an adult, because I believe the fundamentals have been established as a child. Furthermore, when other people contribute to the development of the game, I have to rethink why I initially thought my idea was “fun”. So, in week 3 I avoided this self-examination and spent the seminar focussed solely on detailing my idea for a competitive last-[person]-standing game, in the vein of Battle Royale or the Hunger Games. Where players are competing for a HD by cheating and sabotaging other players.
But since Week 3, I have self-reflected on my process and challenged why I believe my game was fun. And it wasn’t fun, yet. My game idea is focused on cooperative play, and introduces the possibility for many people to win, while still having an overall winner. These changes were made in response to concerns over what players would do if they were killed early in the game, and in response to my relationship with defining a win based on your own goals. Now, the game is more about my struggle with education and learning, than it is with cheating and getting the best mark possible. But I still value my initial idea. Should I cut my ties and throw it out, archive it for further ideas, incorporate it into my current idea, or develop another game from it. I even thought about having it as an alternative game mode which can be played on the same board because their both ideas about our relationship with education and learning. I’ve detailed a basic outline of the game structure below, but its not complete, because I don’t know how to complete it, and because I’m scared to find out its not fun.
Players chose their own end goal target. This is their final grade, and can be as low as a Fail and as high as a High Distinction. Then they decide who forms groups or plays independently, each have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Players gain or lose marks as they move towards the end zone at the centre of the board. Players must reach the centre in order to submit your assessment, before the timer ends.
The outer ring rotates (even if players are on it), and once it makes one complete turn the game finishes. At the centre, determine which players have earned enough marks to make their final grade. The player with the highest final grade is the winner. A player loses if they did not achieve enough points to meet their chosen grade, regardless of whether they have more points than someone who did meet their target.
The game is about defining your own goals as a student, but the task is to submit your assessment in time before the deadline is up. You can earn marks and find references, in groups or playing independently. Players, like students, have a choice in how they can achieve their goal. If a student wants to just pass, or even fail, then they can essentially win if they meet their predefined goal. The game boards reflects the process from starting to finishing an assessment, where each of the 3 (ring) zones represent the Internet, the physical space of learning, and the library.
The underlining idea is assessing your abilities against the other players and determining how much you have to achieve to win. This is enacted in the beginning by betting on what final grade will be achievable and greater than the others. Everyone might chose passes or everyone will chose High Distinction. You have to determine what final you will to bet to beat the others, and try to make sure your mark wins.
Each player, in private, determines the final grade they will achieve at the end of the game: P (pass); C (credit); D (distinction); HD (high-distinction); and F (fail). This is a secret bet made by the player alone, and determines what they have to achieve to win. A player can win with any grade, but, the player who wins with the highest grade, is the winner. Each final grade requires a set amount of points the player has to achieve: F=<50 (less than 50); P=50 – 64; C=65 – 74; D=75 – 84; and HD=85 – 100. If a player doesn’t earn enough points to reach their final grade, then they earn nothing. Therefore, a player with a FAIL grade can win, if no one earns enough points.
Example 1: Player 1 bets an F, and Player 2 bets a C grade. Both Players meet their final grade, but Player 2’s grade is higher. Therefore Player 2 wins.
Example 2: Player 1 bets a C grade, and Player 2 bets a D grade. Only Player 1 reaches their final grade. Even though Player 2’s grade is higher, Player 1 wins.
Example 3: Player 1 bets a D grade, and Player 2 bets a HD grade. At the end of the game both players earn over 90 points. Even though Player 1 has enough points to qualify for a HD grade, Player 2 wins.
Players chose to form a group or play individually. Groups are allowed to challenge individuals. A group has the advantage of getting more points. If a a member on a team gets a point, the other members get half that point. Same occurs if a member loses their points, the other members lose half a point.
Players make their way towards the centre of the board to submit their assessment. If you do not reach the centre before times up you receive a Technical Fail (TF) which is not the same as a Fail.