Work Process: Designing a Game

THE GAME

I designed a board game called Super (Quiz) Bowl. It is a game combining trivia questions with the rules of football, where the game board is a football field with an “end zone” at either end, which must be crossed to score a touchdown. I made a game board out of foam core board, but you could use a sheet of paper, if you marked it at 10 yard-intervals.

This game requires the football field (described above), four dice, two timers (showing seconds—we used the stopwatch function on our phones), Play cards (I made these on Canva and printed them out at home), Question cards (I used brain-teasers and trivia from the internet), and a football game piece (you could use a paperclip here or some other everyday object).

Ideally, 3-9 people may play. This game requires two teams, of 1-4 players each, which alternate between being “Offense” and “Defense,” and an “Official.” If there is an even number of players, one person on each team must alternate acting as the Official.

The object of the game is to advance down the field toward the other team’s end zone (where a roll of dice determines the degree of advancement for each turn or “down”) and to score the most points (by touchdowns or kicks), while answering questions and overcoming the attacks of the opposite team.

The Offense (1) rolls dice to determine the possible yardage (2) draws a “Play card”, which determines the response of the Defense during the play (3) answers a question (a) brain teaser or (b) trivia.

The Defense has chances to compete during the 30 seconds allotted for the Offense to answer the question. The Defense may get a “turn over” for besting the offense during the question time, which allows them to get possession of the ball and begin competing as the Offense. The Offense can score by touchdown or kick.

The Official keeps track of downs, reads questions, judges answers, and is both time and score-keeper.

Game is over when one team reaches 35 points or 20 minutes has expired (there is a half-time break after 10 minutes of play).

THE PROCESS

Here are the iterations of my game:

Initial Concept (Brainstorming):

My main question: what are some activities where people lose track of time, while having fun?

Answer: Football!

Second question: How can I combine traditional football rules with board game play?

Answer: Use quiz-bowl type questions to determine progress of offense

Third question: Where would I find the kind of questions that anyone could answer, but would take some time, some deliberation, to add more drama during the play?

Answer: this is a weakness. I had trouble finding questions that I could use for my Beta testing. I didn’t have time to write an entire question bank. I found some websites that offered various trivia and quiz bowl type questions, but none were completely satisfactory.

Then I sketched out the elements of the game:

Roll 4 dice to determine possible yardages (rolling a pair doubles the face value of the roll, rolling a triple, triples the yardage, rolling a quad allows you to go for a touchdown right away)

Draw a “Play” card to determine the play (really, this is the response of defense during play)

Run (Defense gets to distract offense during answer time)

Pass (toss-up question, ring a bell to “win” the chance to answer)

Punt (Defense gets to answer first)

Kick (Defense gets no chance, Offense only answers)

Answer questions – timed for 10 seconds

I wrote the directions in a word document and drew up a game board and cards

The Amys’ Review

I shared the game with my friend Amy and a friend of hers (also named Amy!). They loved it, but had some confusion about:

The yardage determination with the dice

The “Run” card (this allows the defense to distract the offense during play to prevent them from answering the questions)

If each team works together, or if the individuals answer independently

The problem of the question bank was still an issue

Linda’s Review

I revised and clarified my directions and shared them with my friend Linda. We played a few rounds and she gave me some suggestions:

Rolling the dice – getting to double and triple yardage makes the number too high. Instead:

For a double, add 5 yards.

For a triple, add 10 yards

Explain the purpose of the Play cards sooner in the directions (this part was referred to early in the directions but not explained in detail till the end).

When drawing a “Pass” Play card, instead of ringing a bell to win the chance to answer, place a household object in the middle of the game board. The team that is ready first will pick it up. This was helpful in making the game for easier to replicate at home.

Increase the time allotted to answer each question from 10 seconds to 30 seconds.

The question bank was still a problem, but the game worked well. It was fun (when finding a question wasn’t a problem).

Family

I made the corrections from my time with Linda and sat down to play with my family. There were two kids and two adults.

Changes made with Linda’s help were good. Everyone thought the game was fun and had a lot of potential.

Once again, the biggest trouble was the question bank. Some questions were too easy and went too quickly. Some questions were too hard.

Overall Effectiveness/Usefulness

Effectiveness of the game:

Games are supposed to be fun. This was fun!

Games are unique in the way you tend to lose track of time when you are playing, and this was true for this game.

Drawbacks:

It wasn’t good for the game that the difficulty level of the questions was inconsistent because it affected the sense of fairness. With the right question bank, I think this game would have excellent potential in the commercial or educational markets.

You have probably already figured this out, but this game is complicated. More like a board game you would buy. It takes one time of playing it to figure it out, but then it is really fun. I think that this would be kind of hard to do with homemade objects because of the need for the Play cards (see the picture below).

Value for learning/Usefulness in educational or training setting

This game is not dependent on a particular genre of trivia, so any category of questions could be inserted into the structure of the game, and it would still work (provided the questions were written for the skill and age of the players).

Therefore, this would be an excellent game for review of concepts, for use with small groups, in classrooms for kids ages 10-18. And also, there could be some usefulness in higher education and training for review of concepts or skills, but might be more popular with adults in the board game market.

Ultimately, the greatest challenging was writing appropriate questions. This was the biggest problem with this game, but building a bank of questions is a project unto itself and so I concentrated on the mechanics of the game, which worked very well (once we got the kinks out).

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