Tabletop Game Design

For hundreds of years, board games were static and unchanging artifacts of ancient design. These designs were uncritical and many times obtuse in their choices of rules and customs. Modern game development began to challenge these assumptions, and especially in the last 35 years games have developed revolutionary design elements. Cooperative games, simultaneous turns, group games, asymmetric games, and catch-up mechanics have changed the field radically. We will first try to define what a game actually is, and then begin to dive into the mechanics and aesthetic elements that make a gaming experience. We will analyze board games with a critical eye, understanding how each piece in a game contributes (or doesn’t) to the final experience in playing that game, why certain pieces are necessary, and how they can be improved upon and combined. Our class time will consist of, predominantly, playing a game during class time and then analyzing it afterwards and outside of class, with written analyses for each game session. Finally, we will work exercises in improving current games and in making our games, with a final project to make a complete game using any mechanics or elements that students find most fun.

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