(AW) What do Prototypes Prototype? Exercise

Game concept: Dynamite/Hot Potato with the condition of winning a game of Taboo to pass the dynamite. Everyone is in pairs, so one person has the card with the word and the other person has to guess it. If they guess correctly, they can pass the dynamite on to the next pair.

Q. Will putting players in pairs make them closer by the end of the game?

  • We’re thinking of the game as a get-to-know-each-other game + a party game. We’re hoping players in their pairs will get closer or feel some kind of solidarity with their partner. This could backfire— some players could be so frustrated with their partner they end up hating them!
  • Prototype: Have players play Taboo in pairs (without the hot potato) through several rounds to see how they get used to each other over time, especifically if they don’t know each other
  • Prediction: It could really go either way but I predict players will like each other a little more on the basis that they know a little more about each other.

Q. Will the players think the words on the cards are reasonable or too hard?

  • Each game of taboo would require a card that someone has to explain and someone has to guess. What words would players find unreasonable to have to guess or to know? What category of words should we avoid? What category of words was challenging but rewarding?We don’t want the words to be too easy but we also don’t want them to be too hard to the point a pair can’t get through a single turn because they got a super hard word.
  • Prototype: We will have needed to come up with categories of words to predict beforehand. Use the categories of words we’ve set aside all mixed together. Give them to a tester to see how the describe the word. See what people struggle with (like to the point they can’t get to a single round or have to pass), and see what people usually know.
  • Prediction: I think we’ll find that some words are easy for some and some are hard for others. We’d have to figure out some themes we might want to explore (theme packs?) that might make the game go more smoothly since in the end we probably want each pair to play Taboo one or more times in the alotted 5 minutes. We gotta find a good sweet spot!

Q. Is this amount of stress too much, too little, or at a good balance point?

  • The players are in a pretty hot cognitive situation here — we’re giving them 5 minutes to pass around the dynamite and then possibly an even shorter amount of time to finish a game of Taboo as a pair in order to pass the dynamic. Is this too much stress? Are people going to hate it? Or are they going to see it as a fun challenge?
  • Prototype: Create a version of the game that has no time limit to finish a game of Taboo vs one that does. We could also create another version that has an extended time of 10 minutes.
  • Prediction: I think it might be stressful but fun to play every once in a while. The time limit per pair might be difficult though, so we might want to come up with some other condition for that (holding the dynamite for an extra 10 seconds, taking a shot, etc)

Other questions I had that might be worth exploring:

  • Will other pairs think it’s fun to watch another pair play Taboo?
  • How many rounds would people want to play of this?
  • Do people like Taboo? Should we find another type of condition game for people to play before passing around the dynamite?
  • Would a pair spend too much time playing their game of Taboo and bore the others?

Signing off,


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