Sugar Showdown: Reflection – Amy Lo

The type of fun that Sugar Showdown exhibited was challenge and fellowship. Since our game was a competitive, cooperative game, players played in teams of two against each other working against the constraints of the system. Thus, they were able to form bonds with their partner while playing and work as a team to challenge the other team. Our main mechanic was an asymmetry in resources. The school team only got support tokens that they needed to convert to money tokens, whereas the company only got money tokens that they needed to convert to support tokens. Only through strategy cards or a random event through the dice roll were both teams able to get the resources they needed. This helped model the ecosystem because schools need support of the community to get funding, while companies often need funding to increase their brand support. This helped model the ecosystem of how schools and unhealthy food companies have to fight for control of the school lunch system to increase healthy eating in schools.

Watching others play the game was really exciting and frustrating at the same time, since it was fun to see how they interacted with the game balance, but also difficult to watch them break the game! However, those moments of game-breaking helped us understand when the balance of our game wasn’t working, which was key to helping us refine our games over time. Our initial game direction changed a lot, but seeing our game fail and break pushed us to design a better one that modeled the system more accurately and ultimately became a much more enjoyable game.

What I learned from this game was to test and iterate often. However, I also learned that sometimes games fail – and that’s okay! Failing games push us to design better ones that are more fun to play, as a failing game can help show you what mechanics don’t work and which ones in the future will.

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