Hand waving

December 01, 2008

What makes a game a good game? Well, fun for one thing. But part of that is interest in the subject material. When I was at Broderbund I was given a submission to evaluate and write a response. The first title I got was "SludgeMaster". Yes, you turn poop and pee into drinkable water. I never laughed so hard in my life...

But what was UNDER the game, the actual mechanics was actually fun. The game actually was based on an existing game, it was just hard to see under the... poop.

So back to hand waving. If you've ever played, and liked, Monopoly you understand the basics of how to play. If you go to Target or Walmart, you might have seen that there are hundreds of flavors of Monopoly. There's SpongeBob Monopoly, Spiderman Monopoly, X-Men Monopoly etc. But if you know how to play one, you know how to play ALL of them.

Lets define our terms:

The hand waving is: SpongeBob, Spiderman etc

The GAME is moving around the board using dice, buying properties, charging "rent" when a player lands on your property, and improving those properties to increase the "rent"

So the "game" is the part of Monopoly that you play in each version, the hand waving is SpongeBob or Spiderman. (Personally, The Simpsons Monopoly cracks me up)

When it comes to game design, don't get the two confused. Don't think that because you're an expert fan of SpongeBob, that you can design the next hit SpongeBob games. The two things are very different.

If there's enough interest, I'll do a podcast on this subject. Let me know by leaving comments below!