Game Design Exercise #1 – Wild Pitch

Game Design Exercise #1 – Wild Pitch

baseballOver the years, I have cobbled together a few game design exercises that I thought I’d share with you…

This first one is called Wild Pitch and is an exercise in focused creativity.

All you need is some pencils/pens, some small strips of paper, and, of course, some other designers. Any number of designers will do, though I prefer small groups of four or so.

To start off, each designer brainstorms (silently to himself) to come up with a slew of fictitious board game titles. They can be silly or serious or anywhere in between.  He then writes a different one on each of his slips of paper. Then the slips are placed face-down in the middle of the table and shuffled together. You are ready to begin.

The boldest player can start first by taking a slip of paper (if you draw one of your own titles, you can draw a different one). He then must announce the title and make a pitch for that game. After about a minute or so after the pitch is done, then next designer takes his turn, and so on.

The purpose of this exercise is to stretch your imagination and to free you from the normal constraints you place on yourself. Consider the following title…

Moon Cowboys

That could be the title of a lot of different games…

  • A pioneer game on the moon?
  • Cowboy werewolves?
  • Intergalactic ranchers?

You have a chance to explore crazy concepts…

  • Moon boards are placed around the room and ships must travel between them by flinging them around
  • Your meeple cowboys can become bitten by a werewolf (via other players) but you aren’t quite sure which one
  • Picture a cross between Bang! and Carcassonne

And here’s my attempt at a pitch…

My latest design is called Moon Cowboys. You play as a group of aliens that have settled in the Old West. You start with a lot of not-so-useful resources – the items from your crashed ship! You must trade these items with the Earth Cowboys for standard frontier fare – for example, a raygun for a horse or maybe moon boots for some cowboy boots. Your goal is to make a place for your family to live and fully acclimate to your life on Earth!

Not every pitch will be a good one. Remember, the result of this exercise is not to generate a list of game ideas. The purpose is to flex your creative muscles. As designers we sometime get lost in our own development which can sometimes be time-consuming and exhausting. This activity gives you a short burst of one of the biggest thrills in design: that initial inspiration and the toying around with new ideas. So, take a break, have some fun, and see where your mind can take you!

More design exercises to come…





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