This is the first of two posts I will be writing about games that I have designed as part of the Gameful summer challenges over on gameful.org. The first of the posts is about a game I designed in response to Gameful Challenge #4 – Notching Up Naches.
I’ve been wanting for a while to create a kind of hackable game resource – a set of resources which can be used to play many different games. The quintessential example of this type of resource is a deck of playing cards; there are thousands of games which have been designed by players using playing cards and which are constantly evolving.
I decided to use the deck of cards as the basis for my resource, so ended up designing a deck of cards which I’ve tentatively named the Dance Deck. You can find out all about the deck by reading my original post over at gameful. You can download the deck here if you want to create a game yourself! The gameful post also explains the first game I’ve designed with this deck – Boogie Bridge. It is a game that aims to make traversing the face of the earth (or at least little bits of it anyway) a little more rhythmical and interesting!
Today I managed to squeeze in a little playtest of this game with a few friends of mine and I’ll be detailing the results of the playtest in this post. I decided to go small scale with the first playtest – one team of four players. None of the team members had ever heard anything about the game until I explained it to them about 5 minutes before they played. Here’s the motley crew in all their finery!
The course was created by chucking down four coins which we scratched together between the five of us.
I spent about 2 minutes explaining the game to them, after which they all decided they were happy enough with how it was all meant to work. Next, the music! For this first ever round of Boogie Bridge, the team unanimously decided upon TGIF by the lovely Katy Perry. They also unanimously decided that this particular track fit firmly into the Clubs suit – songs you might get down to in a club, so Clubs was selected as the trump suit. Next, the hand was selected by the team leader, and here it is:
The team leader Paul (who is rather a groovy mover) was happy that he was familiar with all of the dance moves in the hand and was ready to jump right in. The game itself was captured on video:
The scoring was loose for this first playtest, but essentially the team would have earned the face value of all non-trump cards and twice the face value for trump cards in the hand for each person to successfully cross the bridge (so 42×4=168 points). It’s the ‘successful’ bit which is the vague term here – does the order in which they perform the moves matter? What constitutes a correct execution of a particular move? Some of those hair tosses looked decidedly moshy to me… I think I quite like the fact that some of the aspects of the game’s rules are open to interpretation – it sits well with the intended hackability of the game and the deck. After all, show me two families who play Monopoly with the same set of rules!
The feedback from the players was that they enjoyed the game and understood intuitively the moves which were on the cards. Doing a quick scan through the deck, they got most of the moves just from the names, but a few they said they would need a demo to get them right. One pertinent point that was made was that they weren’t sure when they would play this as they couldn’t see themselves carrying around a deck of cards everywhere they went. One way of addressing this would be to turn the deck into an app – so you shake the phone to deal a hand after selecting the right number of cards, pick a track and suit and provide a link to the demo videos of any moves they needed demonstrating. Another option might be to turn this into a game akin to Street Pole Dancing where a city is peppered with stickers which tell the players which moves to perform at each step along various ‘bridges’ which have been created in appropriate places.
Most importantly, I asked the players how it felt to successfully coach another player across the bridge, and I think one team member’s response sums it up perfectly – “It made me feel a little bit warmer and fuzzier inside.” Nuff said!