10 Design Ideas to Jumpstart Kids’ Board Games


Last week I ran an “Awesome Games” event for the San Marcos Public Library, turning twenty kids loose with buttons and construction paper to design their own board games. It was a lot of  fun and I’ll write about the event in more detail soon, but one of my concerns was the kids coming in and having no design ideas to build from.

I didn’t have much to worry about on that front. Once the kids got over the shock of having an adult tell them to be creative and build what THEY wanted to build, it turned out that most of them had plenty of design ideas of their own. It was a blast watching them sketch out boards, write rules, and pick out pieces from the baskets of glass stones, dice, and other game bits I had brought in .

Even kids need the occasional creativity starter, though, which is why I put out a few flyers with this list on every table:

Game Design Ideas Starters

Need an idea for a game? Here are 10 places to start!

  1. Your favorite animals have a race.
  1. Your favorite TV show characters meet and do what?
  1. You’re going to play your favorite sport … in space!
  1. Or underwater. Or anywhere else that’s cool.
  1. This new business is going to make you rich. What is it?
  1. School would be more fun if you could…
  1. Robots are on the loose! You need to stop the rampage by…
  1. You’ve landed on a mysterious island to look for…
  1. You’re detectives solving the mystery of…
  1. You’re trading! In the Mediterranean!


Trading in the Mediterranean? Really?

Okay, some suggestions may not have been as serious as others. In fact, none of the design idea suggestions were all that serious. I wanted some specific possibilities for kids who wanted something concrete to grab on to. I wanted some open-ended questions to inspire kids and send them in their own direction. And I wanted the whole document to come off as light-hearted so they didn’t feel required to pay attention to it.

Overall, the document served its purpose.Some kids had their own design ideas in mind and didn’t need it. Several started by reading through the document, trying out some answers in their head, and then setting their own direction. And I saw several parents leave with a copy of the flyer for use the next time they and their kids wanted to make something.

What ideas would you use to jumpstart a board game design? And would your list be different if you were designing as a kid or as an adult?


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Copyright 2016 The Roaming Designer

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