• Curriculum Planning
  • Teaching
  • Multidisciplinary Hands-on Lesson
  • Time Management
  • Rules of Play
  • Various Board Games
  • Recycled goods

Design Foundations Camp

Design Lab is a partner with NC State College of Design and is dedicated to “teaching design as a way of thinking and delivering design education experiences to benefit the K-12 community and beyond.” Throughout the year they have workshops for students and educators. During the summer, they run 3 camps: Explorations, Foundations and Immersions.

Foundations is for uprising 9th, 10th, and 11th graders. The camp introduces the students to design through a various interdisciplinary projects.  The projects cover the range of studio disciplines offered at the College of Design focused on design fundamentals and the application of design in the real world. They are introduced to and complete each project per day of the week.


For Foundations Camp, I designed a lesson plan around creating a prototype for a table-top game.


For this project, they used a base game mechanic, such as Hand Management, in a group to create a prototype for playable game. Over the course of the project groups play tested this game and learn the basic of game mechanics.


  • Develop creative problem solving skills
  • Understand and practice iteration
  • Discuss the game system


  • Utilize iteration to solve problems
  • Recognize elements of a system and be able to discuss how they work together.
  • Develop persona appropriate solutions
Students trying out their dungeon crawling game.

Game Research

The students were split up into groups to play published games. Groups played: Go-fish, We didn’t playtest this at all, Sushi-go, Boss Monsters, Guillotine, Tsuro, Forbidden Desert, Dominion, or Settler of Catan. These games were chosen because of interesting game mechanics that I thought might be useful for the students to think about. A couple general ones were module board system and cooperative play.

As part of the research, the students had to identity what things were rewards and obstacles in the game. Once identified, they had to state whether the reward was a factor of chance or competition and same thing for obstacles. They put these findings in 2×2 matrix. Of Roger Callois’s play forms, I just chose chance and competition because they were in every game that I provided. Mimicry and Illinx appear in less board games and so I decided to leave them out. This was to help students to  understand game mechanics and how they play into a balance game.


Problem Definition: Develop a playable game that fits your given persona that uses game mechanics, hand management and whatever else you choose.
Research: Within a group look at the rules and game system of a preexisting game.  And examine the different elements of the game and how they function for the whole system.
Concepting/Brainstorming: Take the research from the existing games that everyone did and begin to brainstorm the overall game you will be creating.
Iterating: From the brainstorming, individually work on aspects of the game to bring back to the whole group.
Prototyping: Begin creating components of the game that will be used for play testing.
Testing: Leave the rules, and components for another group. They will come in, play what they can and leave feedback on sticky notes.
Refining: Take their feedback to revise the gameplay and prepare for final presentation of the day.
Present: The previous playtest group will play the game again, and we will talk about each groups game.

Half-way through the prototyping, my TA and I would playtest the games with them to give them feedback before wrapping up.
One of the finished prototypes
One of the finished prototypes
Play Resources
Resources given to the students to help think about how a game functions and for whom

Play forms

Alea: chance, like poker, Mario’s ? boxes, Chance cards in Monopoly and dice

Agon: competitiveness, like chess, basketball

Illinx: vertigo, like roller coaster, Twister, Virtual Reality

Mimicry: mimicry, like role playing, cosplay, acting

Gamer Archetypes

Achievers are goal-oriented and motivated by the reward of achieving long-term goals. Therefore, an achiever often gets satisfaction from completing tasks and collecting things (e.g., points).

Conquerors are challenge-oriented. They enjoy struggling against impossibly difficult foes before eventually achieving victory and beating other players. They exhibit forceful behaviors, channel their anger to achieve victory and thus experience fiero (an expressions of pride and emotion following victory over difficult challenge).

Daredevils are excited by the thrill of taking risks and enjoy playing on the edge. The enjoyment of game activities such as navigating dizzying platforms, rushing around at high speeds while still in control characterizes the Daredevil.

Masterminds enjoy solving puzzles, devising strategies to overcome puzzles that defy several solutions, and making efficient decisions.

Seekers enjoy exploring things and discovering new situations. They are curious, have sustained interest, and love sense-simulating activities.

Socializers enjoy interacting with others. For instance, they like talking, helping, and hanging around with people they trust. Socializers are trusting and easily angered by people who abuse their trust.

Survivors love the experience associated with terrifying scenes and the thrill of escaping from scary situations.

Game Mechanics

Action / Movement Programming
Action Point Allowance System
Area Control / Area Influence
Area Enclosure
Area Movement
Campaign / Battle Card Driven
Card Drafting
Chit-Pull System
Co-operative Play
Commodity Speculation
Crayon Rail System
Deck / Pool Building
Dice Rolling
Grid Movement
Hand Management
Line Drawing
Modular Board
Pattern Building
Pattern Recognition
Pick-up and Deliver
Player Elimination
Point to Point Movement
Press Your Luck
Role Playing
Roll / Spin and Move
Route/Network Building
Secret Unit Deployment
Set Collection
Simultaneous Action Selection
Stock Holding
Take That
Tile Placement
Time Track
Variable Phase Order
Variable Player Powers
Worker Placement