Thank God There’s a Wikihow for Inventing the Next Great American Board Game ... And a Random Word Generator

Ross Weisman | Jan 31, 2017

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved games: Monopoly, Settlers of Catan, Clue, you name it! So when I was asked to make a board game that would go down in history, I couldn’t say no! It would be an honor to be in that Hall of Fame: the Parker Brothers, Milton Bradley, and now Ross Weisman. Unfortunately, I have no ideas, and my mind’s blanker than a brand-new Pictionary drawing pad. But after some research I found out that Monopoly was stolen from a Quaker woman in the early 1900s. Easy enough, I suppose. Scrolling through endless webpages, I stumbled on it. The light at the end of the tunnel. Buried in the recesses of the Internet: How To Make Your Own Board Game.

Brainstorming the Name

Sure, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but it’d suck big time if Sorry! was called Whoops, My Bad! Names are important, and the article suggests writing down ideas, so here’s what I have so far:
  • Plop Down
  • RollHER Coaster
  • Don’t Drop the Plate!
  • Paparazzi: First Day
I’m not sure about any of these. I’m usually good at coming up with stuff, like that time I made a tuna melt with avocado in it! Who would’ve thought that it was hard be original and groundbreaking in the world of board game design?? Maybe I need a different approach. I can do this. All I need is to get out of head and let my gut take over.

Improvising

As a semi-finalist improviser I know a thing or two about creating something out of nothing. Through a random word generator I can create an infinite ocean of board game ideas. Everyone knows improv yields 100% quality content.

My Games Inspired by a Random Word

Here are the first five words from the generator that I also turned into board games.

- Random Word #1: Guess

Right off the bat, we got a great one! Just riffing here, what about if players have a bunch of cards with random objects printed on them? One person picks a card at random (like a bowling ball), and the others ask yes or no questions to figure it out! Wait, shit, no.

- Random Word #2: Crossword

Interesting! What if players take turns building a word puzzle from scratch? And I realize now that I’m just explaining the premise of Scrabble. Shit.

- Random Word #3: Trouble

Fuck. I need something else, something more personal.

Draw From Experience

Okay, okay, okay, I can just think back to my childhood! No one has had the same life I’ve had, and there’s gotta be some unique stuff in here somewhere! When I was a kid, my bedroom was directly next to my parent’s. Late at night, I would sneak past their door. My hopes were to grab food from the kitchen without my father leaving his dream state. If I made too much noise, he’d shoot up out of bed! His hat would practically fly across the room! Or is that the general plot line for Don’t Wake Daddy? Whatever, I got plenty of memories. For instance, I lived down the street from this park that had a huge jungle gym! My favorite part was this gigantic maze of slides that you could get lost in, but I’d of course have to watch out for various obstacles getting in my way (beehives, lawn mowers, etc.). It just clicked that I’m describing Chutes and Ladders. I’m struggling real hard right now. All my achievements in life:
  • having a girlfriend
  • receiving my first paycheck
  • getting into college
  • winning money in a scratch-off lottery ticket
These are all moves on the board of The Game of Life. If all my life can be predicted in a game (I live in a split-level shack), are all my life experiences therefore games?

FUNdamentals

Forget the premise of the game! According to the article, I should next choose the game’s “genre and mechanics,” the bits that make the game a game! For the genre, I want something light and friendly. We all know the money’s in family-friendly games, so let’s keep it that way! How about the game pieces look like regular kids? That seems wholesome enough. But to be creative, let’s ditch dice in favor of cards to determine how far those kid pieces move. When I think of family-friendly, candy’s my first thought! The game can revolve around candy itself in a magical candy land. Oh! And that can be the title! Candy Land! Wait, nevermind.

Conclusion

This one’s my bad. Maybe board game design isn’t my forte. I suppose I’ll go back to my job of being a doctor making $20,000 a year. It’s a living, but hey, that’s the game of life!

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