Middle School Game Designs: the New Hotness!
My amazing, funny, and creative middle school students are at it again. Over the course of the semester, they design a strategy game and we would very much like to show off what they have done.
I posted last May about our designs, and the response was HUUUUUGE...and the kids were so excited! They worked so hard to come up with really challenging yet fun games, and we hope you enjoy their efforts. Pictures will be uploaded as soon as each prototype is finished.
Here's a link to last May's list: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/142206/what-game-would...
How do we do this?
We spend two months playing a wide variety of strategy games and analyzing theme, mechanics, and victory conditions. Then, students design their own. They spend about two months on their design and by the end, have created a complete prototype and rule set.
I think game design is the best thing that I've ever taught. My students love games and that hooks them from the start. The project is challenging in so many ways and gets harder, and more rewarding, with every step. Choosing the theme allows them to immerse themselves deeply into a subject that matters to them. Then, by focusing on mechanics and victory conditions, they must think deeply about the experience they are trying to create for their players. Writing the ruleset is the next level of challenge because they must distill their ideas into a cogent, functional set AND then explain it so others can have the same experience in playtesting. After a cycle of playtesting and refinement, students create a polished prototype and we publish the results here for all the world to see.
The project requires holistic, visual-spatial thinking as well as analytical, sequential thinking. They must design the game they want while keeping what gamers want and need in mind. They have to be creative on deadlines and manage their time in class to determine their own courses of action. I never let students design a game with a partner because at the end of class, each student has full ownership of everything in their box--all 8,000 decisions are theirs forever.
All things considered, the results are pretty impressive for students whose only strategy gaming experience might have included Risk and Stratego before this class.
Please feel free to make comments, show love, ask questions, and help support the future game designers of tomorrow. (My students and I will be actively reviewing responses every day, but due to the end of the semester Thursday, they may not be able to respond.)
Thanks so much for everyone's attention and comments so far. It's going to be tricky to get students to respond before winter break, but they were so excited to see the thumbs coming in, AND were very much competitive (in a good way) about how many thumbs each game receives. I'm fine with individual games being thumbed more than others--this is an idea marketplace, after all, and the best ideas tend to win.
Special thanks to my game design friends in St. Louis who've been so supportive, especially Mark Sellmeyer (Spin Monkeys to show the class and to look at their prototypes. Thanks to the BGG community for your support too, it means so much to them after a very hard semester. Hooray!!!!!
- [+] Dice rolls