P3: The Game of Unexpected Consequences

All games are systems made of arcs, loop or both. As such, they are particularly good at modeling systems in the world in order to help users understand those systems, and what happens when they are out of balance. In this project you will:

  1. Form a team of 3-5. May not have more than one person you worked with on P1.
  2. Select a real-world system that you believe people do not fully understand, but should. This can be in nature, society, culture, politics or elsewhere. If you aren’t sure you’ve picked a good system to model, ask!
  3. Design a game where player input and system output can result in interesting consequences. There should be more than one game mechanic, and those mechanics should interact with each other. I recommend paper prototyping (board game) at first, but you do have the option of coding.
  4. Test with game designers (AKA your wonderful classmates)
  5. Improve and document
  6. Test with those close to you
  7. Improve and document
  8. Ship



By Thursday, 5/9 class: Concept Statement

– We plan to design a game to model _____ .

– We want to investigate the following mechanics for modeling this system:__________.

– We believe it will include these kinds of fun: _____.

– Our learning outcomes are _______.

– We will measure them by ______.

– We want to do this kind of game because ________.

– Games similar to this are __________.

– Our biggest concern is___________.


By Tuesday, 5/14 class: Playable first draft

-Is your ecosystem visible during play?

-Are your mechanics working together

-Are there interesting choices for the players?

By Thursday, 5/16 class: Playtestable “close to final”

-Do you have a list of things you want to test for?

-What worries do you have about your game?

By Tuesday, 5/21 class: Delivered to be graded.



Documentation 15%

  • Clear documentation of all aspects of process.


Fun/Engagement 20%

  • As shown in playtesting (be sure to represent in your documentation. If you failed, but were thorough in testing, show that in your documentation for credit.)


System Modeling 20%

Thorough documentation of system in pre-game design research, and game design should represent a streamlined and impactful version of the system.


Playtesting 15%

  • Must have tested with a minimum of 3 rounds of different players, more=more better. Be sure to document HOW the tests led to changes


Craft 15%

  • Intelligent choices that support the play

○ theme respected

○ examples: thoughtful color coding, information design, similar sizing, support for things like scorekeeping

  • Playability: game should be playable with explanations from the game designer and come to a satisfactory end.
  • Completeness of the design


Craft is not the same thing as polish! We appreciate visual polish (beautiful/high-fidelity graphics, etc), and at the same time we do not require it on this project to get an A.

Learning Outcomes 15%

  • Games outcomes are unexpected and leads to a new mental model.



A blog post containing:

  • Artist’s statement (~200 words of your intention for the game)
    • What is your ecosystem?
    • What do you want people to learn and/or believe?
    • How do you plan on accomplishing this?
  • Concept map (or other model (Links to an external site.)) of your chosen system, which should show the game mechanics and how players will interact with them.
  • Other models optional (model of your game, etc)
  • Initial decisions about formal elements and values of your game
  • Testing and iteration history (summarized… big findings only)
  • Final deliverable, either printable for tabletop game or link to playable game. No weird extractables or code will be graded.

For this Canvas assignment, submit a link to your Medium post.

Useful References:

Ian Bogost — Procedural Rhetoric (Media Systems #7) (Links to an external site.) and/or http://www.arts.rpi.edu/~ruiz/EGDFall10/readings/RhetoricVideoGames_Bogost.pdf (Links to an external site.)

Games to Inform Your Thinking

https://www.epipentycoon.com/  (Links to an external site.)

https://ncase.me/polygons (Links to an external site.)