Introduction: Game-opoly: Designing & Building Your Own Board Game

About: I'm a High School Technology teacher with Creativitis, a disease that doesn't let my brain sleep. I spend my days trying to infect my student's minds with a desire to learn. I lead by example and hope that my …
Game-opoly is the Ultimate design project. Coming up with your own game certainly isn't rocket science, but it's harder than you think. What's the catch? The game has to be FUN to play.

We've all had the experience of playing a game that brought us hours of enjoyment. These days, board games seem to have taken a back seat to video games and the internet. I'm not saying that video games are a bad thing. I certainly played my fair share in high school. I'm suggesting that we take a closer look at board games. This project is the perfect way to do that.

Learning Outcomes:
  1. By researching and preparing a presentation about board games, students will develop and improve 21st century presentation skills.
  2. By executing design concepts on the computer, students will develop and explore graphic design techniques using Adobe PS and Illustrator.

Using the project sheet below, work your way through the GAME-OPOLY project. Start at GO. Remember.... if you do the work, you'll pass go. Aim for 100%. It is possible.

Step 1: Research & Present

Step 2: Presentation Day

I know that some Students would rather go to JAIL than stand up in front of the class to deliver a presentation. Having the confidence to deliver and communicate a message is an important skill to develop.

These tips will help you succeed:
  1. This is not a formal presentation. Don't worry about wearing a suit and tie. You're not presenting to a board of directors. You're basically just having a conversation with the class about the cool things you found out about board games.
  2. Try to have fun with your presentation. Board games are fun, so the information should be fun.
  3. Use technology to your advantage. You have a smart board at your finger-tips. Ask to try it out before you present so that you're comfortable with what it can do.
  4. Think outside of the BOX. Your presentation will stand out in the mind's of your audience if you do something original or unexpected. 
  5. Content is important, but so is delivery. You might have the best ideas, but it's possible to kill those ideas with a poor presentation.
  6. Immerse yourself in your project. The easiest presentation to give is the one you know everything about. You don't have to memorize anything if you know it already. You'll find that when you present something you're passionate about, it will just come naturally.
  7. Make sure that all of your group members have something to contribute to the presentation. There are many different ways to do this.

Step 3: Brainstorm

Get together with your group and start to hash out some of the critical questions and answers.
  1. Make sure that you have a pencil and some scrap paper. Write EVERYTHING down. Most people discard what they think is a bad idea before it even gets to paper. A lot of times a bad idea is all it takes to help someone think of a good idea. If you put it on paper, other people will have a chance to interpret the information in a different way.
  2. Get feedback from as many possible sources. Talk about your ideas to everyone. You'll be surprised by who gives you the best feedback and inspires you to come up with your best creative thought.
  3. Your rough work is part of the DESIGN PROCESS. Keep it all, and hand it all in. It's like GOLD, and is actually worth a lot of marks.

Step 4: Logo Design

Every good board game comes from some sort of company. The Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers logos are two of the most recognizable board game company logos.
  1. Brainstorm ideas for the name of your board game company.
  2. Once you have a name picked out, prepare a page of rough sketches for your logo.
  3. There might be one member of your group who completes this task. Logos are fun though, so maybe each member of the group creates a concept and then you vote on the final concept.
  4. Take the time to come up with a great name and a catchy logo. You'll be using it later when you design the box for your game.

Step 5: Sketch

This is a pretty important step in the Design Process of your board game. Here are some more tips:
  1. Try to be original. You might model your game after an existing game, but please make it different. I don't want to play RISK under a differnt name.
  2. Again..... write everything down. You're being marked on your design process and your rough work is like GOLD!
  3. The most important thing to figure out is the CONCEPT of your game and the RULES.
  4. Once you get a rough idea of the concept and the rules, make a crude version of your game and try to play it. Tweak the rules as you go until you stumble upon something that is fun and intriguing to play.
  5. You'll be surprised how much your concept changes. Don't forget to get feedback from as many sources as possible.
  6. Once you think you have the concept and rules figured out, start to think about and sketch what the final board, pieces, cards and box might look like.

Step 6: Design

 You will have the opportunity to explore both Illustrator and Photoshop. There may be elements of your board or box design that are easier to complete in one of the two programs. 

Remember these important factors:
  1. Adobe Illustrator works with VECTORS. This means that you can draw clear crisp lines that can be scaled up and down without the loss of resolution. THIS IS A GOOD THING.
  2. Adobe Photoshop use PIXELS. If you design an element of your game and decide to enlarge it later, it may become pixelated. Make sure to draw your designs full size and start at a minimum resolution of 300.
  3. It's not a bad idea to draw the layout of your board or box in Illustrator, and then export to Photoshop to add graphic elements.
  4. Decide what box you intend to use. Unfold it, measure it, and draw the outline of the box in ILLUSTRATOR.
  5. If you choose a box larger than the one pictured, you won't be able to print the entire design on one page.

Step 7: Build the Box

Here are the steps for building your box:

  1. Print out your good copy of the box.
  2. Peel a sheet of DRYTAC laminate film and place it carefully over your design. Try to avoid dust and air bubbles.
  3. Let the heat press heat up to approximately 80 degrees.
  4. Make sure to put a piece of transfer paper on top of the laminate film.
  5. Clamp your box design in the heat press for approximately 15 seconds.
  1. Disassemble your box and lay it flat on the table.
  2. Spray the top side of your box and the back side of your box design with spray adhesive. 
  3. Wait for a minute and then stick the two sides together. You only get ONE chance, so make sure it's lined up properly.
  4. Trim the excess paper with an x-acto knife and reassemble your box.
* IMPORTANT - I  will help you with the above steps so that we don't have to re-print your designs.

Step 8: The Board & the Pieces

Making the board:
  1. After the board is printed out you will glue it to a piece of white foam core that is 20" x 30".
  2. Use spray adhesive to coat the back of your board and the piece of foam core.
  3. Carefully align the board and then press it on to the foam core. Remember... you only get one chance to line this up.
  4. To protect your board, apply a layer of DRYTAC laminating film to the top of your board and clamp it in the heat press for 15 seconds.
  5. Trim the edges of your board and then cut through the paper backing of foam core to make your creases. Please measure carefully, and make sure not to press too hard on the knife. You don't want to cut all the way through.
  6. Depending on the size of your board, you may need to make several cuts so that the board folds more than once.
Making the pieces:
  1. The thing about making the pieces is that it's easier to find existing ones.
  2. If you can't think of something to use for your pieces, please ask and I will help you figure something out.
  3. A good way to make tiles is to print your designs, glue them to a sheet of plastic, laminate them and then cut them out.
  4. You might also be able to modify existing pieces as shown in the last picture.

Step 9: Commercial Advertising

 Once your game is done, you need to figure out how you might sell it? A commercial is absolutely necessary. You have a few options based on the skills you've developed so far. 
  1. Create a stop motion commercial for your game using Stop Motion Pro.
  2. Create a 2D animated commercial for your game using 2D animation software.
  3. Create a live action commercial by shooting video and editing it in Adobe Premiere.
Don't forget to research some examples of existing commericials. You'll also need to Storyboard your concept before you start this part of the project. I've included one example of each type of commercial here:




Horror Night Commercial

Pipeline Commercial

Step 10: Final Presentation

Step 11: Play

Step 12: That Was FUN!!

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