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  • Redesigning the board game Pandemic

    I conducted this project as part of my doctoral dissertation in 2018 and early 2019 in an art immersion school in Western Canada. The goal of the project was supporting students' engagement with emergent systems and to imagine and model new possible structures using mathematics and science topics. In this post, you can find a short summary of the project process and a description of one of the students' redesigned game. You can read more about this study here: Bastani, 2022; Bastani & Kim, 2022 Participants: Grade 7 students Principal researcher: Reyhaneh Bastani Supervisor: Dr. Beaumie Kim Pandemic board game: The cooperative game Pandemic (Z-MAN Games, 2007) models disease spread across the world. This game was used it as a model of an emergent global issue. In this game, players take different roles and work together to treat infected populations to buy enough time to complete the ultimate objective which is the discovery of the cures. Pandemic board game, Z-MAN Games, Retrieved from Project stages: A game play session An example of the redesigned games Reverse Pandemic: This group aimed to reverse the Pandemic’s story, i.e., in their game players acted as diseases which aimed to spread around the world. For example, what would make the game more difficult for players is vaccination instead of epidemics. Game goal: The 6 players of the game, as diseases, work together to spread around the world. The board works against this goal by immunizing the cities. Designing the board, deciding how to connect the cities Creating their board based on having 6 players Setting up the game to playtest it Vaccination cards “The city defence changes when you get 70 percent of population get vaccination.” (one of the students from this group) Game redesign aspects 1. Developing the game theme and goal: Players acting as viral disease (game aesthetics/ dynamics) 2. Expanding the game’s backstory: Taking the perspective of bacteria and viruses (game aesthetics) 3. Using numbers, percentages and probability as a tool in materializing ideas (game mechanics) 4. Playtesting for balancing the game (game mechanics/ dynamics)

  • Redesigning Culturally-Relevant Tabletop Games

    In this project, we are considering the cultural-historical significance of tabletop games. According to Crist et al. (2016), tabletop games were: (1) historically used as “social lubricants” across cultures (e.g., for newlyweds to get to know each other on their first night and for traders to develop amity); and (2) adopted into varying societies by being decorated and reimagined (i.e., redesigned) appropriately to their cultures. The tabletop game redesign activities will involve the families in carefully choosing a game that matters to their family members and considering their interests and could enrich the strengths of linguistic and cultural diversity. Crist, W., de Voogt, A., & Dunn-Vaturi, A. E. (2016). Facilitating interaction: Board games as social lubricants in the ancient near east. Oxford Journal of Archaeology, 35(2), 179–196. Team Members Beaumie Kim, Principal Investigator (Professor) Jerremie Clyde, Co-PI (Game Studies Associate Librarian) Reyhaneh Bastani, Researcher (Postdoctoral Fellow) Justin Acton, Researcher (Preservice Teacher) Rebecca Stockton, Researcher (Graduate Student)

  • Inversé board game redesign project

    We conducted this project with the goal of supporting students' mathematics learning (mainly topics of area and multiplication) through creating a 2-dimensional version of Inversé. This post provide provides a short summary of the project process and examples of students' redesigned games. You can read more about this project here: Kim, Bastani & Takeuchi, 2021;Kim & Bastani, 2020; Bastani, 2022; Jaques et al., 2019 Participants: Grade 3/4 students Principal Researcher: Dr. Beaumie Kim Inversé Board Game Inversé board game pieces Game components and rules: - A two-player game, each player has a set of five different wooden blocks (3D blocks) with the same volume but different dimensions (and colors) - How the game works: Players take turns to place their pieces until one of them can no longer fit a piece. Its rules include not touching same-color pieces, not placing same-color pieces in the same orientation, and not touching same-height pieces (next figure). In each turn, the player should consider possible positions of their 3D pieces to fit them on the board while making the next move more difficult for the opponent - Winning condition: The person who could fit the last piece on the board would win A possible play situation based on the rules Inversé redesign project process: Students playing Inversé in their groups and mastering the rule Groups brainstorming on how to change the components and rules of Inversé to create a game with 2-dimensional pieces (aiming to change the game mechanics) Testing their ideas and making their game components using simple materials such as grid papers, scissors and markers Group "Extreme Versé" (one of the groups): making three sets of pieces as they decided to have a 3-player game Group "Markit"(another group): trying their game with different size dice Iteratively discussing their design ideas, such as the number of players, game components, and game rules, with their teacher The teacher made sure about their use of math through their designs and discussed the topics of area and multiplication with them based on their game design decisions Group Extreme Versé: discussing the concept of area with the teacher Playtesting their games in their own groups and with other groups, modifying their game components, rules, and the winning condition based on the feedback they received through playtesting Group "Extreme Versé": playtesting their game to decide about the size of their game board Creating a rulebook for their designed game Asking students from another class to play their games and give them feedback, revising their games based on the feedback Making their games' components using more enduring materials such as cardboard Inviting their parents and other classes to play their games in a game night event Examples of redesigned games: 1. Extreme Versé A three-player game, each having the same set of pieces (with the same color) consisting of prepared rectangles in different sizes Game rules and goal: Players take turns to place their pieces on empty spaces on the board in a way that same colors (i.e., a players’ own pieces) and same shapes (played by different players) wouldn’t touch. The last person to fit a piece would win. Examples of main changes from the original game (Inversé) Mechanics: - The redesigned game is a 3-player game (vs. 2) - The redesigned game has two-dimensional pieces (vs. 3D blocks), - The redesigned game has same color pieces for each player Aesthetics: - The redesigned game is a 2D game (2D pieces vs. 3D blocks), - The color of the pieces represents the player Dynamics: - Players' decisions are based on the condition of the 2D board (e.g., pieces' area vs. pieces base area and their height), - players' position of their own pieces impact their next moves, so it could be considered in strategizing 2. Markit A two-player game with each player having a marker with a specific color and using two dice to determine the rectangles they need to draw on a 20x20 grid board each turn Game rules and goal: players take turns to roll the dice to determine the sides' length of their rectangular piece, draw the piece where they could find estimated spaces. the drawn pieces have to touch other pieces’ corners (and only their corners and not their sides. the last person who could fit a piece would win. 3. Blockade A two-player game with each player having a marker with a specific color and using two dice to determine the rectangles they need to draw on a 30x30 grid board each turn Game rules and goal: Players take turns to roll dice, which determine the sides' length of their rectangular pieces, and draw their piece. They need to calculate and write down the area of their rectangle with the same color (to mark which rectangles belong to which player in the game). The rectangles cannot overlap with one another on the board. The goal for players is to draw their pieces on the board in a way that they surround the other players' rectangles (one or more). The first player who could do so would win the game. Using a cultural game in the design of Blockade: This group of students used the condition of surrounding in the Chinese game Weiqi (围棋), known as the board game Go in Canada, in redesigning Inversé and making their own game. This idea came from a newly-arrived immigrant student from China. In the students' designed game, players' fitting their pieces in estimated spaces on the board resembles an aspect of gameplay (game dynamics) in Inversé, but their winning condition, i.e, surrounding the opponent is similar to a condition of getting points in the game Go.

  • Mechanics – Dynamics – Aesthetics

    There are three main components of a game that influence and affect each other. The first two mechanics and aesthetics seem like separate components, but when both interact, dynamics is the result. Mechanics – The rules of a game and how the game works. a. Example: In Monopoly, you roll the dice and then move your game piece that number of spaces. b. Example: In Guess Who, the rules are that you ask a question, and then eliminate certain tiles based on the answer the other player gives. The win condition is guessing the right tile. Rolling the dice to move and collecting and using money are both mechanics in Monopoly. Aesthetics – How the game feels. This can be related to the art, the theme, and the emotions that arise from the game. a. Example: In Monopoly, the theme is real estate and it tends to evoke competitive feelings. b. Example: Guess Who has cartoon people, or if redesigned, Pokemon. The overall feeling is less competitive than Monopoly despite the mechanics still being competitive, and there’s more of a feeling of curiosity, challenge, and creativity in your question asking. The artwork depicting streets and railroads are aesthetics, along with the shape and feel of the game pieces. Dynamics – The interplay between the mechanics and aesthetics in gameplay. a. Example: In Monopoly, you roll the dice and move your piece to Boardwalk. You now have to make a decision whether or not you are going to purchase it. The name Boardwalk is an aesthetic, and the option to purchase it is a rule, but the decision you make is gameplay. The gameplay is the Dynamics. b. Example: In Guess Who, the questions you ask are the dynamics. You look at the pictures on the tiles (aesthetics) and you have to ask a question (mechanics) but the art of asking questions that are general enough to eliminate a large number of tiles but specific enough to avoid eliminating tiles that should still be in play is the gameplay. Those are the dynamics. How does the combination of the rules and real estate theme affect how you choose to play Monopoly? Questions to ask yourself: How do the rules of the game affect how the gameplay occurs? How do the rules and the gameplay affect how the game feels? How could you change the rules to affect how the game plays out or feels?

  • Guess Who Redesign, by Justin Acton

    The game of Guess Who allows children to develop basic logic, strategy and articulation skills. My 4.5 year old daughter would have likely enjoyed normal Guess Who but loves Pokemon. She gets to play Pokemon Go once or twice a week and has a few Pokemon toys so really engaged with most things Pokemon. I've redesigned Guess Who to use Pokemon instead of faces using the standard version that is widely available: . My daughter loves this version and wants to play it any time we have a few spare minutes. The game rules and mechanics are the same as normal Guess Who. Design Element Choices (Aesthetics) Choosing Pokemon that my daughter would recognize out of the hundreds available. Choosing a variety of 'types' but with good amounts of overlap. Some Pokemon have multiple 'types', they could be 'Flying' and 'Psychic'. Ensuring that there is a variety in colour palettes or similarities to real world animals for guessing options. Adding text (Pokemon's types) to card sheets to assist people less familiar with Pokemon, so that if Grandma or someone is playing they can have some clues to use or be able to answer guesses. Redesigned Game Board Pieces Board Pieces created in excel (Height 3.5cm and Width 3.2cm) Printed on card stock. Cut out and placed in game board instead of standard faces (see above). Card Deck created in excel using same images (Height 5cm and Width 3.5cm) Printed on card stock. Used like deck of cards provided by standard set. Lessons from playing It was useful to print out two extra sheets of the 'Card Deck' to leave uncut as a reference sheet since we haven't memorized all the 'types' for each Pokemon Blue is a powerful colour. We may implement an option of not being able to ask "if a Pokemon has blue on it" for the first two turns, similar to the gender rule in standard Guess Who The card stock isn't terribly thick so players need a place to keep their card face down and need to be careful of letting the light shine through. Games can be fast if the first guess is good. As an example if a player uses their first guess to find out the opponent's type they will only have 3-5 cards left up on their board. This is similiar to standard Guess Who though, so I don't see adjustments being needed yet. June 2nd updates Asking if Pokemon has blue has been joined by "Can you see your Pokemon's tongue" as a powerful question resulting in about half the board being knocked down. We still don't limit questions being asked on the first turn, since my daughter is still being challenged and fine tuning her strategies. Daughter's Response Daughter loves the game. Because it's quick she is always trying to find times to fit it in. (Before meals, after getting home, before brushing teeth, anytime) Her biggest issue with the game is that it doesn't have enough Pokemon. She wishes it had "All the Pokemon". Having more Pokemon (approx 900 possible options) could work if we rotated them out. This will require a bit or categorization. You want characteristics that are shared across multiple Pokemon (You'd want more than one "Electric" type so if that question is asked, two or more remain standing after an affirmative answer). is a useful resource for sorting/searching. I suspect creating groupings of 6 or 8 Pokemon would be the most useful. So that groups could be switched in and out without creating orphaned (lone type) Pokemon. Alternatively, we could get a second set of Guess Who and each player would have two boards, allowing 48 different Pokemon in one game. Mid June Updates Daughter had been requesting 'more Pokemon'. So I decided to make six batches of eight pokemon that could be cycled through. I started the batches by ensuring each one had a 'baby' Pokemon and then sorting the existing 24 Pokemon into the batches. My goal was that each batch would consist of two groups of four types that includes at least one 'baby' and one 'legendary'. I then had my daughter assist me in filling the buckets. This will let her influence the aesthetics and the mechanics of the game (Pokemon can have multiple types so her decisions will influence the gameplay). We'd already had 4 psychic pokemon from our intial design, and daughter wanted to add Espeon who is a psychic Eevee. I asked her which of the the existing psychic pokemon she wanted to remove and she chose Mewtwo, one of her previous favorites to remove. When asked why she wanted to replace the Mewtwo, it was because she really wanted another Eevee in the game and the Espeon "is beautiful". Some changes I made for playability and setup was adding symbols to the corners of the cards so we can shift the 'sets' easy. Increased the size of the deck of cards. When printing I missed printing two sets of the gameboard cards. My daughter really wanted to play. So instead of waiting to prepare another set of cards we tried the game by just putting 24 different Pokemon into each gameboard. Having two different gameboards ended up adding an interesting aspect to the game. Now my daughter has to thing about what board she wants me to have because that will determine what cards she gets to choose from adding a new mechanic to the game. Have strong baskets of pokemon types has also evolved my daughter's strategies. She is more prone to ask a pokemon's type as opposed asking about aesthetic aspects like colour, open mouth, ears or tails. Possible future redesigns: Daughter is starting French Immersion Kindergarten in September. We could use Guess Who as a tool for learning practicing French.

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