by Kate Raynes-Goldie
This workshop was all focused entirely on hands on game design.
We began by testing the third prototype, a mystery story in a world similar to the X-Files, where players — as top secret spies — are not even sure if they can trust their employer. We used a Wizard of OZ-style technique, with David as the computer. The game unfolded by David telling the story and results of actions, while writing the main points on a white board.
On their own, as we played, some children had trouble focusing on the game until they grabbed sheets of paper to draw the characters they were imagining in their heads or to make notes about the mystery. In previous play tests with cards or board games, those physical pieces had been the centre of focus that brought everyone together. This need for a physical shared game space further underscored the need to make the final game a board game (or something similar).
The second key learning from this third prototype was the need to better scaffold trust decisions within the game. In this version, players would be given different clues and leads to follow. At the end of each round, as a group, players had to make a decision about who to trust. The issue, we discovered, was that the game assumed a bit too much about players already having established frameworks for making trust decisions. In other words, the trust decisions needed more scaffolding, which in turn needed to be built into the game.
After the playtest and feedback session, we began creating the species, characters and locations that would fill out the world. We decided the game would take place in an interdimensional town, where 7 different dimensions connected. Each dimension would have its own species and backstory that shape the game narrative and world. In this way, each child would get to create their own piece of the game through their own unique world, character and species. We created simple sheets for everyone to fill out. For example, the character sheet asked for the characters’ name, where they lived, their favourite hobbies and so on. Each child also drew a few pictures of their characters and other members of their species. These concept drawings and descriptions will then be passed along to our artist – Dara Gold — who will turn them into finished pieces that will make up the game world.
Stayed tuned — in the next post, I’ll be sharing the concept and finalized drawings from the game!