Collaborative Game Design: Creating ‘Don’t Drop the Bomb’

‘Don’t Drop the Bomb’ is a fun, abstract game created collaboratively between myself, Olivia Burt, Laura Wilson, Bella Creswick, Katelyn Giuditta and Amelia Raffo.

Playtesting ‘Don’t drop the Bomb’

As part of a group game design task, we developed an idea for a game and conducted rapid ideation and a fully functioning prototype which we playtested and iterated.

Our Group Journal is a collaborative Google Doc where we all recorded our entire iteration process including photographs and links to our research. While initially constructing the layout of the group journal, I felt it would be valuable to treat it like a weekly checklist with actionable objectives that we can tick off once completed. Under every new week, I would note the instructions from our tutor as well as our group seminar plan so that we knew what we needed to achieve and kept us on an effective time schedule.

A checklist from our Group Journal

‘Don’t Drop the Bomb’ had a number of iterations before we got to the current beta.

Our initial ideation and playtesting was for a game we called ‘Sneaky Blinders’. It was our twist on the existing game, Spyfall.

Spyfall & Spyfall 2 Party Game Review - The Board Game Family
Spyfall is the game Sneaky Blinders was inspired by.

‘Sneaky Blinders’ is both a party and role-playing game where players are each assigned the role of movie characters and one player is the ‘Extra’. To playtest, each group member created our own set of movie character cards and the objective of the game was trying to catch out the ‘Extra’, who did not know what movie the other players were talking about but had to be undetected and pretend that they do.

The character cards that I created of The Hunger Games for our playtesting of ‘Sneaky Blinders’.

We discovered through our playtesting that ‘Sneaky Blinders’ did not have a lot of room for play. As we had learnt in our Game Experience Design theory, games are both systems and stories where play and agency are important. Having characters from a set collection of movies may exclude some players who have not seen the films. The set characters also give players little room for interpretation unlike Spyfall, which gives players an ambiguous scenario to play with. Although ‘Sneaky Blinders’ was a fun game to play for a few rounds with friends, the game was not sustainable as something that would appeal to a wider audience long term.

All of the ‘Sneaky Blinders’ realisations and analysis are documented in our Group Journal.

In our new ideations, we wanted to create a more abstract game with structured parameters that everyone could play.

When brainstorming, we brought up the idea of a word association game based on a TikTok trend at the time where two people would count down and try to say the same word… attempting to mind read in a sense.

That sparked our interest in researching word association games. A few games that particularly stood out to us were Blank Slate Game and Monikers.

We again started playtesting our new idea together and adapting mechanics as we went. Two players would be given a random word by a third party and they each had to write down a word associated with that. Then, the players would take turns (on the count of three) saying a word related to the original word provided, but if the word they say is written on the other players card, they lose and the game is over. As it evolved we added official word cards and a sand timer to make it more challenging.

Playtesting ‘Don’t Drop the Bomb’

We really liked this idea so we ran with it and decided that whiteboards would be the most effective way of playing the game. The name ‘Don’t Drop the Bomb’ was created from the idea that you are trying not to say the ‘bomb word’ on the other players whiteboard. However, after our pitch presentation our feedback was to change to name to a more kid-friendly one to better reach our target audience.

Playtesting ‘Don’t Drop the Bomb’

The workload throughout the creation of ‘Don’t Drop the Bomb’ was spread fairly evenly and we all contributed to ideas and playtesting.

To create our pitch presentation we shared a Canva presentation and each edited our own slides which would be paired with a 1.5 minute script and audio recording that Olivia would edit together into a YouTube video.

We each picked a section we would like to write about based on our strengths. I feel that I am good at synthesising and connecting our games to the game theory from the subject resources so I created that section for the pitch.

The audio I recorded for our group presentation.
The first slide I created for the presentation
The second slide I created for the presentation

I was really happy with the way our team worked together and I think that was evident in our mostly positive feedback. I am also really proud that we created a game that we all think is fun and enjoyable and would genuinely play with our friends and family.

Our feedback from the group game project will significantly help me in my own individual game design. Particularly in making sure I do extensive research on an appropriate target market and being specific with who that is. I do often fall into the “everybody” target market trap.

Overall, ‘Don’t Drop the Bomb’ was a really successful collaborative game design experience.

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