to jump-start my brain while pondering a current board game design (a basic car-racing game, at the moment…it’s sorely lacking in theme or the “spark” that brings players back for more), i consulted my handy-dandy ‘creative whack pack’ designed by roger von oech. to sum up, each card in the set has a suggested creative thinking exercise, designed to ‘whack’ you out of your current/stale mode of thinking, so that new ideas will emerge. the ones that were drawn for this particular exercise include:

have something at stake – survival, self-esteem, money, reputation–so the player is motivated to win.

ask “what if?” – what off-beat “what if” questions can you ask about your concept?

make a decision – evaluate the idea, and critically weigh the evidence. run a risk analysis, and listen to your gut. what is your decision?

so i developed a long list of “what if” questions before going to bed that evening, with the hopes that the next step is to sift through the ideas and come up with one that sticks for the current game design i’m developing. the rest of the ideas can certainly be kept in the morgue for later retrieval and use. i will also be using this same exercise as part of my upcoming board game design course this september/october.

what if…

  • players were trying to escape the nothing?
  • there was a herd of stampeding animals close behind?
  • the players were racing snails?
  • the players were racing through an office to use the photocopier?
  • the players were sperm cells on their way to the egg?
  • the payers herded animals along the track ahead of them?
  • the players had to crack a secret code before they could cross the finish line?
  • the players were maids in a cleaning service?
  • players were parents in a toy store the day before christmas?
  • the players were tax collectors?
  • players had a family of ducks (including ducklings) following them?
  • players were storm chasers in tornado country?
  • players were fatties at a chinese buffet restaurant?
  • players were lost socks in the ‘laundry worm hole’?
  • the last-place player could fuck with the first-place player?
  • the last-place player could win if they killed-off the other players?
  • the players had to visit different stations in a food-eating contest?
  • players were servers in a busy restaurant?
  • players were commission-based used-car salespeople?
  • players were in the belly of a sinking ship?
  • each individual player had to visit all checkpoints, but in a different order than all other players?
  • players could throw switches that open or close passages and doors?
  • at different stations there were different pieces of code, and players must acquire the pieces, decode the combination, then escape?
  • players were inmates and must bribe prison guards to escape?
  • players were packages in the u.s. postal system?
  • players were pieces of luggage in a busy airport?
  • players were taxis, picking up fares across the city?
  • players were sea monkeys on some little kid’s bookshelf?
  • players were staff at a busy daycare center?
  • players were thieves running from the police after a botched heist scheme?
  • players were mosquitos feasting on picnic guests?
  • players were strange life forms trying to implant their own genetics into the “birthing receptacle” that creates the next generation?
  • the players were antique dealers/brokers at a flea market?
  • players were in a grocery store, fighting off cravings in every aisle?
  • players were dogs or cats marking their territory?
  • the players were house-painters, paid by the square foot of coverage?
  • players were lawn-care groundskeepers, mowing the lawn?
  • players had to pick up and deliver cargo with a forklift?
  • players were parents looking for their errant children on prom night?
  • players were inmates during a prison riot?
  • players were tomb raiders escaping from a trap-infested temple?
  • players were journalists chasing stories around the city?
  • players were no-holds-barred, full-contact, toboggan racers?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *