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Links: An Intro to Game Design, Vote for TIA's Game of the Year & College-Level Game Courses

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Once again I'm catching up on links from the past couple of weeks as stuff piled up during BGG.CON and subsequent traveling across the southeast. Here we go:

Magic: The Gathering head designer Mark Rosewater has posted a two-part article series (part one and part two) on the website under the title "Ten Things Every Game Needs". How does he describe the series?

What I am presenting in this two-parter is essentially an Intro to Game Design. Are there exceptions to what I am saying? Of course. I don't think one would start an Intro to Art class by jumping into Cubism. Rules can be broken once you understand why they exist in the first place. So yes, there are very good games that might not meet one of the ten criteria I've listed, but if you're making your very first game, I would try hard to hit all the criteria I'm talking about here.
The interesting bit about the series is that it originated from a talk to a fifth-grade class of students, with his daugther Rachel being one of those students. Hardly the audience you might expect for such a course, yet when you look at the boiled-down list of ten things every game needs, it's hard to argue with what's included:

1. A Goal or Goals
2. Rules
3. Interaction
4. A Catch-Up Feature
5. Inertia
6. Surprise
7. Strategy
8. Fun
9. Flavor
10. A Hook

Can't wait to see Stick Needles in Your Face on Kickstarter!

• Designer Michael Schacht has unveiled the sixth new map for China in his "Twelve Months of China" project that moves the game play of China onto new settings. For December 2011, Schacht has taken a hop across the Yellow Sea to move China's action to Japan. You can play this map and many other Schacht designs at

• Designer Alf Seegert is interviewed in Continuum, the magazine of the University of Utah, where Seegert works as an assistant professor and lecturer of English, with much of the focus being on his The Road to Canterbury.

• notes that titles from Queen Games will now be distributed in France by Asmodee.

• The Toy Industry Association (TIA) is accepting votes from the public on the game of the year in its 12th annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) awards. Jungle Speed, which has popped up on shelves at Toys R Us, Target and other mainstream outlets, is one of the candidates, along Heroica: Fortaan (LEGO), Angry Birds: Knock on Wood and four other games. (HT:

• Game Salute, which serves as an exclusive distribution service to brick-and-mortar stores for some titles from publishers such as Clever Mojo Games, Sirlin Games and Rallyman, has signed a deal with ACD Distribution in which ACD will offer titles handled by Game Salute to U.S. retailers along with the rest of its product line.

The purpose behind Game Salute's Select Store Exclusives is to provide a distribution service for smaller publishers, while also giving brick-and-mortar stores access to titles that won't be sold lower than MSRP by online U.S. retailers. As TMG's Michael Mindes notes on the Kickstarter project for Kings of Air and Steam:

Kings of Air and Steam will be available through local retailers and the Tasty Minstrel Games website. It will not be available through any online discount retailers.

This is to support the local retailers that choose to support Kings of Air and Steam. Without this relationship the MSRP would need to be $59.95. This allows us to drop the MSRP to $49.95.

• PC game publisher Matrix Games has solicited beta-testers for a computer version of Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear. No release date has been announced for this adaption yet.

• On Go Forth and Game, Tom Gurganus interviews Geoff and Brian Engelstein, designers of The Ares Project.

• The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has a series of podcasts (link opens iTunes) from Philip Tan and Jason Begy on game design. Here's a short description of the lecture series from the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab: "These lectures discuss the history, tools, and current landscape of game design and analysis. A variety of genres are covered, including cards, games of chance, board games, role-playing, sports, and puzzles."

What's more, designer Scott Nicholson is a visiting professor for the GAMBIT Game Lab and his opening colloquium for the Comparative Media Studies department on board game mechanisms, which he delivered in September 2011, is online.

• German online retailer has closed shop, with picking up the domain name and filling outstanding orders. (HT: Anthony Rubbo)
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