Build a Wall’o’Games!

The Wall O’ Games was created after Dan Milward (Gamefroot CEO) and I were trying to find a quick and engaging way to generate ideas by any group. After some investigation, we found nothing that was both suitable and entertaining so we invented our own resource – The Wall O’ Games

We often kick off our “fast-track to game design” workshops by getting groups to create their own Wall’o’Games. Here’s how:

  • Grab a stack of post-it notes
  • Everyone takes a few minutes to think of all the games they already know. Each game goes onto a post-it note and up onto the wall.
  • Try using categories that prompt people to think of different kinds of games. E.g. (Digital games, Tabletop game, Physical games), or set a fun challenge (e.g. think of at least one game for every letter of the alphabet).

Don’t  have any post-its? No problem. You can use a whiteboard, or a big sheet of paper.

Within a few minutes, you’ll have a wall full of games, and your group will be marvelling over how many games they already know!

Here are a few things we love about the Wall’o’Games:

It warms the room and builds bonds

It’s a fun, fast process that often elicits lively conversation: “oh, I play that game too!” “Oh yes, I remember that one!” “I used to play that with my nana” “I love that game!” “Ugh I hate that game” “I played that heaps as a kid”. “Ooo have you ever heard of this game?” “That reminds me of another game…”. Etc.

It draws out the people’s existing game knowledge and turns it into a shared resource.

People (especially adults) often don’t realise how much they already know about games, until they step back and see the wall they’ve created. Pooling together the collective knowledge of the group and making it visible, turns it into a shared resource that belongs to the whole group.

It’s fast way to start analysing different game mechanics

Used in conjunction with our Gameful Praxis “What’s in a Game?” cards, novice designers can start grabbing games off the wall, identifying and discuss different kinds of game genres, and the mechanics of how different kinds of games work.

It’s perfect for game design ideation – try “hacks” and “mashups”

The initial phase of a game design process is all about generating ideas. Coming up with a completely novel game idea isn’t  just hard, it’s not even necessary! Most games are variations on other games that already exist, so why not take inspiration from a game you already know and try “hacking” it to give it a different twist! We also like to use “mashups”. Simply grab two post-its off the wall and start designing a game that mashes together aspects of each game:

  • What if you crossed Scrabble with Pac Man?
  • What if you crossed Jenga with Duck Duck Goose?
  • What if you crossed Minecraft with Chess?

Read how Leanne has used this technique with her primary students  here.

It can be used to build  empathy for different players’ preferences

The Wall’o’Games provides a way to step back and appreciate the diversity of game genres and mechanics that exist. It is only a short step to reflect empathetically on the types of games enjoyed by different people, and to start considering the extent to which the games that we play or know reflect diverse interests, experiences, play preferences, cultures, and identities.

I hope you’re convinced! If you use the Wall’o’Games in your classroom or game design workshops, leave us a comment below – we’d love to hear from you.