Game Design Masterclass

Friday night. I attended a three hour class on game design by Steve Dee from Tin Star Games. I've known Steve for years on social media, and vaguely remember meeting him at one (or both) GenCon Oz convention(s) about a decade ago. Back in those days there weren't many of us designing games in Australia, and in the intervening years, Kickstarter and Patreon have changed the game design landscape dramatically. There are numerous design groups, playtest groups, podcasts and reviewers, new conventions, and expanded gaming space in wider pop culture conventions. It was appropriately described as a renaissance in gaming at the beginning of the class.

Steve began things with an introduction to himself, and to gaming before launching into the design process. There were nine of us (and Steve), and we were divided into four groups. I was happy to see that four of the nine participants were female (almost half). One student asked that there be a female in each design group, which felt a bit like tokenism to me... we ended up with a group of three (two males, one female), and three groups of two (male/male, male/female, and female/female). It really doesn't matter, we had nine game designers with various degrees of experience.

(Yes, that's me in the male/male group at the front, with the female/female group behind us... it's just the way things worked out)

The theme for our games was "a new year".

The games were brainstormed and given preliminary development...enough to develop a rule set, mock up components enough to play the game, and then do a sample run through.

Then we had another group playtest our game as we answered questions and took notes. Then we playtested their game (while they watched and took notes). The young ladies in tbe group behind us played our game based on random (and hopefully funny) new years resolutions, while we played their game about collecting Chinese New Year animals. They both seemed fun games, with good potential for development.

After round one of playtesting, we all had the opportunity to refine the design, improve the mocked-up components.

Round two of playtesting. We play the game of the male/female pair (a cross between "Once Upon A Time" and "Pictionary"), and they played ours. Some of our tweaks were improvements, some just seemed to confuse things. Obviously more work to do.

(The mocked up components of our game)

There is far more work to do, and I'll post more details soon... probably once I get a computer working again.


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