What do Prototypes Prototype?

In my group’s game, players each write down a secret on a card and put it into a bowl. Players draw a secret and attempt to guess who’s secret it is. If the player guesses correctly, the player whose secret it was writes down a new secret, and the player who guessed writes down a dare and adds it into the game bowl. 


Can groups implicitly set norms on the level of vulnerability a ‘secret’ implies?

Our game aims to create light-hearted topics of discussion for groups of people that are already somewhat familiar with each other- however, the inherent connotation of ‘secret’ implies that people may assume they much divulge more intense truths than what the group may assume is their norm. We’d like to know if it is a stable assumption that groups will adjust the definition of ‘secret’ fluidly so all participants are comfortable with what is expected to be shared. We can do this by prototyping instructions with different levels of vague-ness when it comes to what a secret is defined as- one would include examples of light-hearted secrets (I forgot my TA’s name yesterday), one would include examples of light-hearted and more intense secrets (I like someone in this room), and one would not include examples at all. I think that people will at first lowball their secrets with an attempt to not give anything away at first, especially if they were playing with more casual friends, and then begin to test the waters and ramp up on intensity until they reach a stabilizing point.

Do we want to add more physical mechanics to the game?

Our current game could technically be played online, but our group decided to make it a physical game, where you write down secrets, add them to a bowl, pass it around, and have people draw it. To us, this added more intimacy to the game, and a feeling that your secret wasn’t disappearing into a void. But does adding even more physical mechanics increase that feeling? We can prototype this by playtesting games with additional physical elements-for example, tossing a coin onto a piece of cardboard to figure out if you should pick the secret on top of the bowl or on the bottom. I personally believe that these physical elements add a certain level of allure to the secrets- restricting which secrets you can get may focus players more intensely on what the secrets may hold.

Should the game focus on one core mechanic of secret-telling or expand to additional ones (ex: dares)?

We have been playing around with adding an additional bowl of dares to our game- when someone guesses a secret, the person that guesses correctly would write a dare and add it to a separate bowl for people to draw from. However, is this addition a mechanism that adds more excitement and variety to the game or does it only draw players away from the secret-telling mechanism and split up their attention? We can prototype this by having a game with only secret-telling mechanics, and then another with dares being varying levels of importance in a game (dares do not exist, dares are written and go in a separate bowl, dares are written and added to the same bowl of secrets). I personally think that a sole mechanic of secrets would keep the game focused on one core aspect- deviating and adding in a mechanic that may overwhelm the core mechanic may lead the game on into new territory that doesn’t reflect our initial interests.

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