Facilitating an Educational Board Game Jam: Analysing Different Game Design Strategies
Keywords:Board game jam, educational games, design thinking, facilitation, learning, collaboration
There is a long tradition of using board games for educational purposes. Moreover, the growth of the game jam events where participants typically gather at physical locations with an aim of creating new games, has expanded over the last decades. This paper is based on an exploratory study, where we wanted to create a game jam for teachers, student teachers, facilitators, and consultants interested in designing and redesigning board games to enhance learning for different target groups. With a point of departure in design thinking, the game jam was framed through three phases: ideation, build a board, and playtesting. The participants were given the challenge of designing a board game incorporating co-op elements such as collaboration, problem-solving in teams, collective efforts towards a mutual enemy, etc. The game jam was held in a university college where the participants had access to a variety of materials such as pens, papers, cardboards, and discarded board games. The empirical data consisted of observations of participants, who were divided into groups of 2-4 persons based on their prior game experiences and game interests. The analysis presents preliminary findings in relation to the participants’ different strategies for developing board games. The empirical data showed how the groups struggled to balance simplicity vs. complexity in their designs in relation to both time frame and target group of their board games. The playtesting session fostered discussions around the essential game mechanics and elements of each board game prototype. Furthermore, the ongoing feedback and playtesting created a joyful and curious bridge between the groups. Based on the analysis, the paper presents a series of design principles aimed at facilitating educational board game jams.