The Information Design of Board Games

The Information Design of Games

From CS377g “Serious Games” and CS247i’s unit “Games for Understanding”
An annotated deck

There are multiple disciplines that specialize in turning data into information and making possible for ordinary people to understand.

  • Information Architecture is the art of making information findable, understandable and usable.
  • Graphic design is the art of making print and digital work beautiful and desirable.
  • INFORMATION DESIGN is the art of making information understandable. Like maps, it’s usually a lie, but a useful lie.


Why do we care about information design?

Remembering rules (and procedures, and point values, etc) is HARD! SO you want to make sure the information people needs is where they need it.

Writing down the rules, procedures and resources in a spreadsheet will make it easier to remember all the things people need to know while playing.  As you know your game intimately, it can be hard to remember that not everyone else knows your game intimately. You can add to this sheet as you playtest and playtesters find missing information.Don’t make people memorize a rulebook. Use the game materials to hold information.

This step^ is more for you, while you are learning the possibilities in board games.

With Patchwork, there are three boards: two for players to make their quilts on and one to keep score.

Patchwork has been designed for maximum free working memory.


By notations, I mean anything that a user needs to write or draw.

Kodama takes tiles and relaxes the edge matching element, letting you grow a tree

Kodama 3d takes tiles verticle!

This section is from Matt Leacock’s talk “Designing like an Onion” (not recorded, sadly)
From “shitty first draft” to playable but not polished.
So much iteration!
That was a lot of tweaking.
Patchwork on the right.

Oh hai educators. Here are slides. pdf | ppt

Be nice! Attribute twice! (me and Matt)


Strongly recommended: Randy Hoyt on Cardboard Interfaces

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