"Need to Knows" about Game Design

Lewis Pulsipher, Game designer, Teacher, Author

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6 Lessons (1h 5m)
    • 1. 10 "Need to Knows" about game design

      14:19
    • 2. 11 MORE "need to knows" about game design

      12:41
    • 3. 10 "Need to Knows" for designing a good game Part 1

      9:04
    • 4. 10 "Need to Knows" for designing a good game Part 2

      11:42
    • 5. All I needed to know about game design I learned from Dungeons and Dragons, Part 1

      8:38
    • 6. All I needed to know about game design I learned from Dungeons and Dragons, Part 2

      8:11
13 students are watching this class

Project Description

"Rescuing" Monopoly

It's hard to devise a project for what amounts to an introduction to a large topic.

Monopoly Exercise

Game design students who have played hardly any commercial tabletop games, have usually played Monopoly and have often played Risk. Monopoly is very simple to learn and to play, with so little real strategy that there is rarely “analysis paralysis”. It is popular primarily because it is popular, that is, people buy it because “everybody already knows how to play”, and in the mass-market, no one wants to read the rules or even learn a new set of rules. Many mass-market games are bought as presents, and Monopoly is seen as a can’t-miss present for youngsters.

Many people associate Monopoly with warm thoughts, but that usually comes from doing something together with your family (often at a holiday), not from the game itself.

It’s actually an average game as best, though many (including me) will say it’s an average game for kids, but an awful game for adults.

Your task is to analyze/deconstruct the game Monopoly. You’re doing what Hasbro has done recently, coming out with revised versions (one that has a debit card so that no one has to do math, another with an electronic tower that controls and speeds up the game). A version with a “speed die” that also speeds up the game has been available for quite a while. But I want you to revise it as a game that adults might want to play.

Write down what you think is wrong with the game. That’s the first part of your “deliverable” for this project.

I’ve described my take on what’s wrong, attached as a document. DON’T look at that until you’ve done your first try.

Then in the second part you figure out what changes to make to fix some of these problems. Write it down, as usual.

The third part is to playtest the new version. After you’ve playtested it at least once (solo, if necessary, you’ll still learn a lot), revise it. That’s the last part of the deliverable for this project, your description of your new version of Monopoly.


If you know nothing about Monopoly, choose another traditional game you know, preferably one for more than two players.


Note: Most people don’t play Monopoly correctly. (Everyone thinks they know how to play, so no one actually reads the rules!) The most-ignored/forgotten rule is that, when a player lands on a property and does not want to buy it, an auction for it immediately ensues.

(Some people worry that others will "steal their ideas".  Sorry, folks, hardly any idea is worth stealing; where stealing occurs, it's from published games.  In any case, the law does NOT protect game ideas.  

In this case, you're modifying a very well-known game, there's no commercial viability to be worth stealing!  Keeping your ideas secret only means that you'll never improve them through discussion and comment.)

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