Game Design

in 75 minutes

A Laneway Learning class by Matthew Gatland / @mgatland

about me…

about me…

about me…

Game Design?

visual art, music, voice acting, script writing, programming…

Game designers design rules


  • Rock Paper Scissors
  • Crossy Road
  • Monopoly…

MDA framework

Playtesting matters.

  • Rules only work when combined with players
  • Players are complicated!
  • You need to playtest a rule to know what events and feelings it creates


This game simulates a schoolyard fight between little girls. Each player begins with 10 self-esteem points. Your goal is to be one of the last two players with any self-esteem left.

Game Setup

Each player gets:

  • 3 Action cards (Solo, Team, Defend)
  • 10 Self-esteem tokens
  • A set of coloured target cards

Each player should choose a different color and put that target card face up as their name badge.


Each round

  • Secretly choose one target and one action
  • Everyone reveals their cards at the same time, and resolves what happens
  • You may only communicate in public
  • If you run out of self-esteem, you are out
  • When only 2 players are left, they win


Solo: Your target loses 1 self-esteem

Team: If someone else also used team against the same target, they lose 2 self-esteem (per team card), otherwise nothing happens.

Defend: The target card doesn't matter. If you were going to lose self-esteem, you only lose half as much (round down.) But if no-one targeted you, you lose one self-esteem.

Mechanics (rules)

Any you recognise from other games?

Aesthetics (feelings)

What was\wasn't fun?

Dynamics (what happened)

How did the rules create the fun?


Could we change the setting?

Could we change the genre?

What makes a bad party game?

1. Player Elimination

Photo: Risk by Ben Stephenson (Flickr)

Maybe better

Photo: Settlers of Catan by Alexandre Duret-Lutz (Flickr)

2. Positive Feedback

Starcraft II by Blizzard

3. Negative Feedback

Photo: how to kill a few hours by gryphtor (Flickr)

Good party game?

Mario Kart 8 by Nintendo


Activity 2


Games send messages

"People who have a good command of the English language are better than other people."
Photo: Scrabble by Hey Paul Studios (flickr)
"Where are the natives?"
Photo: from the article Postcolonial Catan by Bruno Faidutti
"What is a good life?"
The Sims by EA

Positive themes

  • You need to be aware of the needs of everyone in your family
  • Trades work when both parties get something they need
  • Your vocabulary has improved since last week!



Fun (and other feelings) come from events caused by rules.

Playtesting is important to know the effect of a new rule.

Different rules lead to different experiences – i.e. positive feedback more clearly separates winners from losers.

Games can send messages and promote certain points of view.

That's the end!

Parts of this workshop are based on Marc LeBlanc's 2-day game design workshop.