MDA & 8 Kinds of Fun – Mechanics & Dynamics of The Game of Things

The Game of Things is a creative party game that allows for surprising interactions and social intrigue. In short, one card is drawn each round. It’ll say something like “THINGS… people do when no one is looking”. Then each player writes their answer on a little card and hands it to the player who read out the card. That player will read all the responses out loud, and then the player next to them tries to guess who said what. When they get it wrong, the player next to them then tries to guess. So on and so forth. On the consumer’s end, it is very much a game of expression and fellowship, with a dash of challenge. Moreover, it functions both as a competitive and non-competitive game at the same time, so no matter whether or not each player wants to win, they’ll all have a good time. Onto the mechanics!

Mechanics (the rules and systems that create the play experienced) & Dynamics (the experience that the mechanics come together to create).

  • Perhaps the most important mechanic is that after one player guesses wrong, the next player at the table has the chance to guess. This introduces a dynamic of deduction into the game. If you’re the first person to guess, you have to guess purely based on intuition. However, if you go later, you have more information to base your guess on. For example: If in round one Lauren asked Aman if he was the one who wrote “Pick their nose,” and Aman said no, then the next person to guess would know that neither of them wrote down “Pick their nose.” If there are 5 players playing, that means that now the second player has a 1 in 2 chance of getting it right, whereas the remaining options have just a 1 in 4 chance. In short, this means that every player constantly has to be involved, keeping track of who said what and trying to interpret slip-ups from the other players.
  • A second important mechanic is the means of generation. Each round there is a prompt that asks each player to generate and write down their own answer. This mechanic of prewritten prompts inviting self-generated responses introduces a humorous dynamic, allowing the players to more easily come up with witty responses (since the prompts themselves are funny). It also lends itself to more personal interaction between players—the more and more you play with a certain group, the more you begin to understand their personalities and their sense of humor. Unlike Cards against humanity, for example, where all the responses are pre-defined. This also means that the game is infinitely replayable and won’t become less fun over time, since the responses are fresh each and every game.

Mechanics that make games most fun for me personally are those that facilitate creative and expressive peer-to-peer interaction (such as freeform idea generation) and those that give every player a reason to be paying attention at any given time.

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Game night enthusiast!

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