DUE November 7, 2019 at 1:00pm

Surprise! For the midterm project, your group must design a game. It can be a board game, card game, dice game, or something else. It can be turned-based (like Uno) or simultaneous (like Twister or Hungry Hungry Hippos). It can use physical pieces or be a digital wireframe. It can even a social game like Twister, Assassin or Rock, Paper, Scissors.


1.)Elevator Pitch: Your game must have an elevator pitch:

if you can't sum up your game in two sentences, you don't have a game.” - Challenges for Game Designers. 

An elevator pitch is a one to two sentence description of your game that you could easily rattle off to someone in a quick, informal situation wherein you only have a few moments to grab someone’s attention – such as an elevator ride with a game company executive. Hence, 'elevator pitch.’ However, the elevator pitch is much more than a well-formed statement you can quickly deliver to someone, because it is in the forming of a concise and efficient statement that you’re forced to produce the most refined concept for your design. This is why it’s important to get it down early, but always be updating the elevator pitch to match the shifting dynamics of the development process.     

Keep in mind, there is no real formula for an elevator pitch, as different projects obviously require different pitches, but it will help to define the core mechanic: rolling a die and moving a piece; putting a card on the discard pile; shooting an enemy in deathmatch mode, etc. Likewise, it will also hello to define the core dynamic: the main concept that the gameplay is about: e.g. racing your opponents to the moon, or banding together to storm covert military installations. If you have these two things, the core mechanics and dynamic, you basically have your elevator pitch. Here’s an example:

This a turn-based card game where you band together with your teammates to storm covert military installations. The object is to be left with the most ‘kill cards.’

A list of possible core mechanics/dynamics:

  1. mathematical thinking (Mancala, Blackjack),
  2. spatial reasoning or geometry(Tetris, MineCraft),
  3. prediction (Blackjack, Chess),
  4. territorial acquisition (Go, Starcraft, Fortnite, Risk),
  5. survival (Halo, Chess),
  6. building (Fortnite),
  7. destroying (also Fortnite),
  8. collection (Super Mario Brothers, Mario Kart),
  9. chasing/evading (Mario Kart)
  10. trading/negotiating (Magic: The Gathering)
  11. race to the end (Chutes and Ladders, Mario Kart, any racing game, etc)

Pro-tip: Start with a theme

Many games begin with a theme, and they can range to something simple like such as falling geometric shapes, to something as elaborate, culturally charged, and already as well-developed as Harry Potter.

In addition, below are a few other ideas for how to get started:


Possible idea 01:  Take a favorite children’s book and turn it into a children’s game. This will give you your theme, help you determine game objects (like tokens, random chance cards, etc). the attributes of those objects, and even a game objective. For example, The Very Hungry Caterpillar board game is described thusly:

Let's Feed The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a board game based on Eric Carle's popular book, in which children move their caterpillars from fruit to fruit, collecting a unique butterfly puzzle piece whenever they stop to eat. The first player to collect all five puzzle pieces and build a beautiful butterfly wins the game!

All the important components of the above description (which is also, incidentally, a great elevator pitch) extend directly from the original book by Eric Carle:

  1. The core mechanic: "children move their caterpillars from fruit to fruit…”
  2. The core dynamic: "collecting a unique butterfly puzzle piece whenever they stop to eat…”
  3. Game objects (i.e. tokens): “caterpillars.”
  4. The game objective: “collect all five puzzle pieces and build a beautiful butterfly...”

Possible idea 02: Take a favorite movie, tv show, or book and turn some aspect of it into a game. Similar to the children’s book idea above,  a movie, TV show, or book already have beginnings, middle, ends, and characters. These can all easily guide you in the process of creating a game. Take a look at the below description for the Seinfeld Festivus Board Game:

You know the Festivus drill. Don your gay apparel, stretch for the amazing feats of strength, and let your irritation muscle shine cause it's time for the holiday season! This game will give you and yours and inside look at Festivus without getting anyone in trouble with their boss. Trot the aluminum pole game piece around the board and watch as those closest to you flex their muscles and vent their frustrations. Let the holly jolly carolers celebrate their own way, this game is for the rest of us!

If it sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is: the episode of Seinfeld that this board game comes from was absurd and hilarious, which is the whole point of this game:


Possible idea 03: Take a real-life experience and turn it into a game. Remember the words of Johann Huizinga, who wrote, "[Play is] a free activity standing quite consciously outside ‘ordinary’ life as being 'not serious,’ but at the same time absorbing the player intensely and utterly.” Playing a game in ‘not-serious,’ it’s true. But he also wrote that play, “transcends the immediate needs of life and imparts meaning to the action. All play means something."

Games can be an excellent way of expressing meaning, emotion, and thoughts about real-life experiences in social settings. At the same time, all great art reflects the soul of its creator. Therefore, you could create a game that touches upon a real-life experience you or someone in your group has had. It can be happy, traumatic, sad, exciting…it’s up to you.

The following is a little on the dark side, which is OK, but here's an example:

Bad Car Accident: In this game you race your opponents from the scene of a terrible accident, all the way to the hosptial, where the object is toget discharged from the hospital before anyone else!

I know – it doesn't sound like a lot of fun. But it does illustrate how games give us oppurtunities to take a negative life experience and process them with one of the most effective tools we have as a species: play


Midterm Project Deliverables:

  • Elevator pitch
    • Core mechanic
    • Core dynamic
  • Playable game prototype 
    • Include all game obejcts 
  • Rule set(s)

Midterm Project Roadmap

  • 09/26 – Class 04 –Midterm project introduced
  • 10/03 – Class 05 – Midterm concept discussion
  • 10/10 – Class 06 – Formal presentation of your team's midterm concept (an elevator pitch would be great here)
  • 10/17 – Class 07 – Your team will play the game prototype in class to refine the design and the rule set.
  • 10/31 – Class 08 - Teams exchange their prototype and accompanying rule set with another team for user testing. Notes will then be presented to each group.
  • 11/07 – Class 09 - Midterm presentation: all game deliverables formally presented to class.