What Do Prototypes Prototype?

In this assignment, I came up with 3 questions that my game prototypes might answer. For each, I also answered the following:

  • Why is this an important question to answer?
  • What type of prototype will you make to answer this question?
  • What is your guess about how it will turn out? (the practice of prediction grows your intuition)

1) How many rounds should be required to win? Alternatively, what should the competition mechanics be?

This is important to determine because many times with collaborative charades-style games, competition can become a very important and central aspect of the game’s fun. Making the game just hard enough that both teams can have chances to come back from a mistake or fall from first place is what keeps games from becoming boringly one-sided. Some prototypes that might answer this question would be variations of our game which change the number of points to win the game — for example, first team to 11 points wins. Or, another variation could be to have a set number of rounds, and whichever team has the most points at the end of the rounds wins. My guess is that getting to a certain number of points will keep the game more exciting.

2) What types of words are best for this game?

This is very important to address because the words are very central to the gameplay. Unlike Phrase Frenzy or Taboo, in which you can speak about your word, our game prohibits speaking and you can only communicate through charades. This makes it imperative that we come up with a card deck of words that are both fun, possible, and challenging to act out without saying anything. Possible prototype variations might include using word categories, so that players know the theme of each round beforehand, or maybe separating the cards by difficulty. I’m not sure what the best approach for this question is, but I think categorizing the cards in some way, whether the players know the categories or not, would be a good approach to building the deck!

3) How many cards should be in each round? Should there be a limited amount of cards in the deck for each round/game? 

This question is important to address because building an ad-lib on-the-spot language among the players to communicate meaning is central to many of these types of games, and is half of why they are fun! Many times I have played games like this with friends, we end up establishing shorthand charades or phrases that stand for some taboo word, and it’s fun to see and use that inside language. In some games in this genre, there is even a limited set of cards for multiple rounds, which creates a memory aspect to the game in which you must remember cards that have been played in previous rounds. Possible prototypes might include drawing a restricted deck of cards for each game, or letting players draw from the entire full deck. I predict that both versions could be fun in their own ways!


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