Change the rules? Yes, we can!
These rapid-fire game design activities teach teamwork and creativity!
Game modifications are a great way to teach fundamental design skills. Take any old game. Then, attempt to make it more fun or more interesting. Anyone can offer a new idea for a rule. The final proof is in the test--play-test, that is!
This basic concept--altering the rules and trying them out--is the cornerstone of all democratic processes. But to learn how to change a law or a policy, try to create a new version of Rock, Paper, Scissors--just for fun!
Game mods are good for learning teamwork too. We start with something clear and defined--the game. Then, anyone can throw out an idea for how to shift it. Everyone else tries it out, giving feedback on how the shift impacts the dynamic of the game.
Design-thinking is more fun with games. Game building can incorporate “loose parts play,” that engaging peace of mind we get from building sand castles or stacking woodchips and fall leaves. “Loose parts” are materials that can be moved around, re-combined, re-designed, and taken apart and put together in multiple ways. Play theorists have shown how playing in this open-ended way can embolden creativity and design.
Have fun, and share your game mod pictures with us on Twitter, @mumkinstudio, #gamemods
1: Play it again, Sam… (15-30 minutes)
Ask group members to share a simple, physical game (or pen and paper game) that they enjoyed playing as a kid. (Games that work well are Rock, Paper, Scissors, Tic Tac Toe, Hide and Seek, or Kitty Wants a Corner). As volunteers to lead a round so that each participant “gets” all the games.
Now, form teams of 2-4 players. Each team’s task is to modify and improve the one game until they have created a new game with a new game.
Coach teams to come together to teach each other the new games.
Share out in a circle around what worked in the collaborative design process. How did you come to a different or better version of the game?
2: Loose Parts Gamemakers (60-90 minutes)
Fill a table with lots of stuff. Your stuff can include art supplies (large paper, scissors, markers and pencils) as well as coins, keys, cardboard, and glue. Include some game notions--like a packet of dice, spinners, or timers.
With the group, discuss the materials, and ask them what they recognize from other games that they have played.
In groups of 2 or 3, design brand-new table top games or card games that The Whole World will want to play.
If you like, come up with a Theme and a Rule that every team has to incorporate. The Theme might be a topic that the group is working on, like learning about Ancient Civilizations, or getting ready for bed on-time. The Rule might be an important reminder, like making sure that every player gets a chance to speak in the game.
In a large group, finish the round by having each team hand off their game to the next team down the line. Can that team understand and play the game without extra side-coaching?
3: If Play Ruled the World (30-40 minutes)
Take a piece of paper out from an envelope. With a flourish, announce that you have received a very special letter from a friend who works at the International Space Station. Read aloud this goofy prompt...and see what happens next!
Greetings, fellow Earthlings! I, (make up a goofy name), am excited to announce a very special inter-galactic discovery. We have discovered a planet we’ve named Xavier-4692. There, all of the inhabitants play games...all the time! This system of government is not extraordinary to this advanced alien race. In fact, they have evolved their games to perfectly meet their needs in life. In fact, when I tried to explain to them that we humans seperate “work” and “play,” they became extremely confused. They could not understand how such a system could work. I am preparing a report of the games that I am finding on planet Xavier-4692. Attached, find the first pages.
Then, explain to your group that unfortunately, the attachment was lost. Ask the group if they could create some of the report pages, imagining the games that the aliens of Xavier play to meet all of their life’s needs.
If your group is stuck getting started, have everyone brainstorm a list of habits that the aliens might have to do every day, and how their games help them get these things done.