• Game Design Brunches

    by  • November 20, 2013 • Design & Art • 1 Comment

    A friend of mine, Stras, had this great idea to start getting together and have game design brunches. What’s a game design brunch, you ask? Well, we get together and eat brunch and talk about game design.

    So far, we’ve had two. It’s such an excellent idea, though, because it gets us together and makes us put together something to work on. Everyone is encouraged to bring something to work on – ideas, things needing fixes, playtests.

    This past weekend, two of our crew were awesome and actually cooked food in-home for us. This changed the atmosphere. Suddenly it was a safer environment, instead of the cold of a restaurant with interrupting service. It made it easier to bring things up.

    First, we playtested my husband’s new icebreaker game, where you pretend to be superheroes out of costume trying to figure out each others’ identities. Great fun! It worked out well and we only had a few points of improvement – I think it’s in great shape now. Then, we discussed how to gather playtesters for another friend’s game. We also talked a bit about refocusing how he is pitching the game.

    The game is a traditional-style game, and he wanted to refocus his pitch from being about how it’s different from other games and instead focus on the reasons why it’s fun and interesting. I think we made some good progress. He’s got a good game going and I think the brunch gave us a good place to talk about it.

    We also looked at my game, Clash, which I’m playtesting and hoping to crowdfund in the spring. I had gotten some playtester feedback and was looking at how to integrate it. I got some great comments and think that it is going to make a difference when I’m putting this in place.

    Last, we looked at another friend’s playbook for an Apocalypse World cyberpunk hack he’s doing (which looks sooo good) and helped him brush up some stuff. It was fun just to get a peek at what he’s been working on – I’m a big fan of Shadowrun but the time investment and crunch can be a little much when I want something quick and easy to pick up, which his game seems to be.

    I just wanted to write a little about how much we got done in just a few hours, and how this format really made a big difference in our attempts to discuss design. It focused us and the environment was so conducive to constructive discussion.

    Have you gotten together to talk design with your gaming groups? What have you done to create an open, welcoming environment when you talk about games and game design?

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    About

    I'm a 25 year old admin assistant from around Pittsburgh, PA. I am married, work and attend college concurrently, and have been tabletop gaming for about 8 years. I blog (very, very periodically), and write unpublished short stories. I play tabletop RPGs, board games, and both casual and RPG video games. I live for the social part of gaming, but do enjoy a good explosion, and am learning the ropes of creating worlds in which people can play.

    http://bravocharliesierra.blogspot.com

    One Response to Game Design Brunches

    1. avatar
      November 22, 2013 at 18:45

      This sounds like a great way to collaborate and help one another with design. In western MA where I live, we get together every month to two months for a Coffee and Game Design. We meet up at a cafe, with the intent being that talking about games, design, theory etc. is explicitly why we’re there, so we don’t need to feel like we’ll bore anyone if that’s all we talk about. This is explicitly to make it a safe space to talk about this stuff, and to let folks know who might be bored by this, that this is what’s on the agenda. The hardest part is finding a place with enough room for us all. We often stick around for hours, or migrate to somewhere to share a meal eventually. It’s great fun.

      And of course we talk about other things, but being able to come back to the core is great. We have folks participate who are intersted mainly in playing games, in design, and also folks looking at it from other disciplines like education and mental health. I like that this opens up the dialogue, and helps people who might not think of themselves as “designers” have an opening. Just the other night a friend talked about how she has started having lots of game ideas, which was much less the case before. I think this event and other gatherings (and the general design community doing stuff openly) helped her make that transition. So win!

      And back last year, we also had a formal Game Design Workshop series. That was fun, and people enjoyed it. But I wonder if a more informal event like your brunches wouldn’t end up doing the same thing better. It sounds more relaxed, and it’s great that they are open ended, rather than only running for a set number of sessions.

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