Backpackers | Group Project Contribution

For the group project portion of this subject I decided it would be most efficient to work in a group of one. Being that I was facing isolation due to being a household contact and we were headed into two weeks of no class, I knew getting together with a group to discuss game design would not be a simple task. Thus, my party card game concept by the name Backpackers became a solo project.

The Three-Act Structure

The “three-act structure” theory is originally applied to storytelling, it emerged when Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote a treatise titled Poetics, where he analysed stories through the frames of a beginning, middle and end. The element of storytelling is imperative in table top games, as explained by Jeff Tidball in his paper “Pacing Gameplay”. Tidball applies Aristotle’s model to gameplay in the following way:

Act One: “Battle lines are drawn and the players understand the dimensions of the conflict.”

Act Two: “The struggle for victory. Each player constantly strives to establish a compelling and enduring edge over the others.”

Act Three: “The push for victory. Players try to succeed in sealing the deal and ending the game with their own victory.”

The video below goes into more detail on the three-act structure and how it was applied to the game design of Backpackers:

Philosophical Carpentry: making things is difficult work.

Ian Bogost explains how regardless of what the object may be, simply getting that object to work takes vigorous activity, also known as ‘carpentry’. My prototype was playtested by using A4 sheets of paper that I had printed my card designs onto. If this game were to be sold to consumers if would be professionally printed, cut and packaged to be visually appealing. As Backpackers is a prototype, using basic printed mockups of the cards was sufficient for the playtesting and iterating process.

As discussed in the pitching of my game prototype, the iterations made to the game mechanics and rules altered the final form of the game, meaning my original idea of what Backpackers would be, was not what I ended up with. This is an example of material resistance: as I encountered resistance through the complexity of the rules I wanted in place. Instead of including elements of strategy and having players work for their destinations in a chronological order, I had to simplify the rules in order to overcome the material resistance.

Another example of this is having too many of a specific supply icon/not enough of another within the deck. This lead to me having to print off more cards to ensure each icon had an equal probability of being drawn from the deck. Encountering material resistance does not have to be a drawback, it allows us to play with the elements of a game to discover its full potential.


Set Collection

Defining Game mechanics

Board Games Three-Act Structure

Moore, C. (2020) Materiality, week 9 lecture BCM300

1 Comment

  1. georgie0brien says:

    Reblogged this on Game Cultures.


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