Designing our first board game

Originally posted 2016-03-17 17:00:51.

Yesterday morning daughter announced she wanted a pyjama day. My heart always slightly sinks when I hear that because I know that while the first three hours or so will be fine – a flurry of drawing, You Tube & computer games, the afternoon fall flat, she will start to get restless & at a loss for things to do. Saturday afternoon is particularly difficult as it is somewhat “protected” time for husband (as far as any parent can have protected time!). The football results are coming in (I mean soccer results for everyone outside the UK!) and things are currently on the edge for his favourite team.

Yesterday things went pretty much as expected. Fun packed morning & signs of boredom early afternoon. But this time I had a plan.

“Come with me,” I said, “I’ve got an idea, let’s make a board game.”

I was greeted with a puzzled face – in fact an eyebrow so arched Roger Moore would be proud. Now daughter likes board games (Game of Life is her favourite), but the idea of creating her own – well this was a stretch. But daughter had also said previously she would like to design video games (yes – my dream too!) and has already said she has an idea for a game where the goal is to get your footballer to a stadium to play a match  (the core of the game being about the challenges of getting to a match rather than the match itself).

So I decided to use her footballing game idea & bits of Game of Life to design a dice rolling “Footballing Life” game. Basically you draw a card to pick your team. We just used three pieces of paper for this – on one was husband’s favourite team, on the other their arch enemies (and hehe – that’s the one he drew when we played later) & one was a more neutral team. We decided if you rolled 1-2 you drew a Money card, 3-4 you drew a Life card, 5 was automatic Red Card and 6 was a  Goal. Each player would have  a score sheet to keep a tally of money, red cards and goals. There would be 12 rounds representing 1 year in a footballer’s life, then you retire & tot up your achievements to see who wins.

Writing the Life cards was the most fun – there were negative ones such as:

-You get food poisoning. Roll dice. If you get a 4-6 you receive a red card in your next match.

-You do a two footed sliding tackle (bad!). Get one Red Card and miss 4 turns.

There were good ones too:

-You go out for a nice meal. Roll dice. If you get a 4-6 you score a goal the next day.

-You win the cup. You gain £10.31 (my daughter’s suggestion – so precise with the decimal & pennies!)

I used writing the money cards as an opportunity for daughter to practice her bigger numbers – I wrote the “You win X”, she copied with the “You lose X”. I did think the game itself would be good to practice adding & subtracting. Didn’t quite work out that way in the chaos of the game but I think it has potential!

Then we were done. Real life football results now in (husband’s team lost so he was rather despondent) we called him over to have a game. And it was a lot of fun. The randomness of the Life Cards was the best bit and we had some quirky ones in the mix (“You are worried about your gerbil. You get a Red card!”). The money side was hard to keep track of though – having actual (pretend!) money would have made that easier. And remembering which round we were on was a bit of a pain – actually having a board (with a football stadium design – I can see it all in my head now!) where you move around 1-6 spaces (depending on the dice roll) & at certain points get told to pick a Money or Life card, or get a Red Card or Goal, would be better (and having little red cards and goal tokens even more so).

But it was fun anyway. And I think for our first attempt at creating our own game it was a success! And it kept daughter entertained for a good hour. I can’t ask for more than that!