[This blog entry originally appeared on Game Design Aspect of the Month for the topic, Mods.]
One of my first mobile projects was on porting the board game Scrabble to mobile devices for JamDat, which would be later acquired by EA to become EA Mobile. Scrabble is a familiar game. Most everyone has played Scrabble, yet, as I found, people play by different "house" rules. As Brenda Romero mentioned during my visit to see her installation, Train (See Reflections on Train), part of the board game experience is that the board game players can change the rules. In fact, one player of Train decided that some of those passengers could make it to Switzerland.
Have you ever "modded" a board game? If you don't like how Monopoly takes so long, how about creating a rule that alleviates that? Have some fun taking a look at some old favorite board games and see what ideas you can generate.
The programmer of Scrabble and I used to take breaks by playing ping-pong in the office. We would invent new ways of playing ping-pong: Double Net, Double Hit, etc. Every day, we would try to come up and play new variations of ping-pong. For BarfBall, we used a Nerf ball that the dog had chewed up and spat out. This gave the Nerf ball some weird properties when hit with a paddle.
For a recent assignment in A Crash Course on Creativity, I was challenged to come up with a new sport by looking at common household items. If you are interested in seeing what others came up with, you can do a search on YouTube.
Here's my take:
I definitely looked at different "sports" and tried to see what I could modify to combine all these elements.
I think it's great that aspiring game designers can "mod" computer games. But remember, you can always do these thought experiments as well. "Mod" a board game and see what you come up with!
Sande Chen is a writer and game designer whose work has spanned 10 years in the industry. Her credits include 1999 IGF winner Terminus, 2007 PC RPG of the Year The Witcher, and Wizard 101. She is one of the founding members of the IGDA Game Design SIG.