Tabletop Game Design Lessons from Playing with Family over Christmas

Hey everybody (yes you, 1 of 3 fans!) I’m back after a lovely Christmas and New Years break and I’m basically gunna just give you a TL;DR for this whole post right now. Board Games with family are great, but also difficult, and the choice you make really makes or breaks the flow of the day.

Put simply, this is a post to help designers, aspiring designers, and those with just a tiny interest in tabletop game design, to make their games easier and quicker to understand, and will ultimately lead to your players having more fun and a generally better time. By following a simple set of rules not only will the right people find your games and play them, but also those people will be interacting and enjoying something that is familiar, makes sense, is straightforward to understand and that they will want to play again and again. Who wouldn’t want that for their game design!

1. Keep the rules Simple and succinct

This is the number one golden rule people. There is a really easy benchmark for this as well, it just needs to be easier to understand when players read the rules to each other, than having a player attempt to explain it because they are scared the rules might seem complicated. Use visual cues, and colour, and very clear and concise language that actually describes the act of doing things within the game.

And for the love of all that is holy please start your rules off with the actual aim of the game. The aim of the game, or in other words; how to win it, literally gives context to everything that is contained in the rulebook.

Aside from that though there are loads of really cool and super fun (for copywriters maybe) ways to create clarity and present information effectively. Things like: use positive confirmation and affirmation rather than negative (say ‘move into these spaces’ rather than ‘don’t move into these spaces’), use repeated and obvious terminology that easily describes sets of actions or behaviours, and generally describing things individually instead of trying to explain broad concepts or large sets of rules at once.

Also remember, this isn’t a novel, so try to keep the paragraphs nice and short, this is especially useful for when your grandparents (or anyone really, people forget things) put on their reading glasses to read it after asking for the 50th time for you to explain it to them. Serves you right for breaking out the heavyweight Euro at the in-laws for Christmas though really…

2. Know your target audience

So, you’ve made your rules nice and simple, good? Not good! (Actually this is just my bad for not putting this point before the last one.)

Thing is, you have to cater your rules, your diagrams, and even your tone of voice to suit your target audience. You know when your relatives come over for christmas and you talk a little louder to Grandma to make sure that she can understand what you’re saying. Not in a condescending way though, just because the human body naturally deteriorates over time (true story folks.) That’s why you have to cater to your audience.

Don’t feel like you have to accept your audience and stick with that though, allow the development of your game to tell you what your target audience. Like when you started school and they do a little sports test to see which students are good at what sports, same thing (except less degrading for children.) If you can figure out first who you are writing for, and then write for them, you’ll be doing a lot better than a lot of rulebooks out there.

3. Do not assume things are self explanatory

Clarify everything. Even with a terminology glossary if you have to. The aim here is to remove any ambiguity at all. Don’t allow interpretation if a rule needs to be clear cut, and specifically state it if interpretation of the rule is allowed. Remember, the rules should explain the game better than someone simply explaining it because the rulebook is confusing.

Unfortunately, writing a made up or ambiguous word like ‘philangey’, or ‘combobulation’ is just not gunna cut it. Use words that people understand without having to look them up, and if you can’t, then explain what those words mean without breaking the flow of the reader.

I know, I know, it’s like I’m just giving you a list of things to do without explaining exactly how to do them, like some kind of proof-reading tabletop fascist over here, but so much of this stuff is subjective. So I kind of can’t explain how to do them. Or I can and I just can’t be bothered.

4. Playtest like a mother…

Like a literal mother. Not that other word that starts with mother and ends in something rude and maybe beginning with the letter F. If you test like your actual mother, then who knows what untold problems and issues you could uncover in your board game rulebook.

I mean this really depends on the type of mother you have, but for the purposes of this I’m assuming they like wine at Christmas, and also don’t have a lot of time for things that are unnecessarily confusing and take a long time. Especially not things that would require someone to think or learn. I do love my mother though, honest. I just wouldn’t play Yamatai with her…

Testing is the crux of good game design though. Blind play testing is even better. It’s incredible how much you can learn about literally every aspect of your game from just simply watching people play it. Like a creepy little board game gremlin, watching from the corner whilst people play with your precious… ok no, that sounds weird. Blind playlets, but don’t go full gremlin ok. Probably for the best that.

5. Players should never feel completely out of the game

One of the actual banes of my life. Ok, maybe that’s actually the most middle class thing I could have ever said. An issue with board games is the bane of my life, what a life eh. I’ll stop now.

This is the reason Monopoly sucks so bad though, and this is the reason why a lot of newer style board games are so good! No player ever feels completely out of the game, and if they do, then there are other incentives for them to work towards! Didn’t win guys, but I did complete the longest road. In your face road builders of this weird hexagonal island. Never thought I’d live somewhere so geometrically sensitive. Or build roads for that matter. Oh, life with your twists and turns. Just like that road I just built, who’d have known.

6. Actually scrap all of those, just always focus on clarity and unambiguousness

Unambiguity? Disambiguity? I have no idea which one it is, but you get what I’m trying to say right? Of course you do! Otherwise why would you be here! A pity read? Oh. Fair enough, I’ll take it!

Basically this whole thing just boils down to one thing. Keeping it simple.

Oh and being concise, so two things. Oh and also making sure you are aware of your target audience, and always playlets. So four things. Oh, and making sure people are always able to stay in the game.

Five things.

Should have just stuck with the 5 points I guess.

Yours playtestingly,


How to Find Balance in Tabletop Narrative & Theme Design (and storytelling in general)

Everybody loves a good theme. It is literally what stops some games from being complete and utter trash to be honest, and a great theme can really elevate a board game to the next level.

What’s great about tabletop is that there are so many non-traditional themes out there that break out of the mould of stale fantasy or sci-fi (or Cthulhu, just stop please!) I’m talking dental practice board games, games where you are a stroppy teenager who just listens to metal music in there room and plays computer games all day (ok maybe that one was just me…), games where everybody is a spec of dust and you have to beat the other specs to become the most… speccy? You get the point. Also none of those are actual games but part of me kinda wishes they were. Not least to relive my nerdy isolated youth involving lots of angry music.

With the theme being key to game design though, and more and more hobbyists expecting detailed and intricately balanced theme and gameplay nowadays, it has never been more important to the success of a game or ensure that the theme and narrative design is 100% on point. And that is why I have created this list. It’s all about balance really, because we all know a game that is all mechanic or all theme is usually just boring as hell…

1. Be familiar, without being cliche

Oh hey guys I can totally relate to being a spec of dust right now! Since we’re totally playing the dust spec game that inventions earlier (and definitely doesn’t exist). You know, due to feeling small and insignificant and prone to growing mold if left in a cold, damp place for extended periods of time… nobody? Ok just me.

Familiarity is your foot in the door with your players, but it shouldn’t shape your entire game.

It’s like a tool you use to get people to go ‘ooooh right I get it, that’s what you mean,’ or ‘ahhh no way, now you’ve explained this horrendously complicated mechanic to me in narrative terms within the context of this relatable story I totally get it!’

See, easy.

The trick is to making sure you have just enough of a level of familiarity to frame complex game mechanics and nuances in a way that people can get really easily.

2. Be accessible, without being dumbed down

Now this is a 2 parter because accessibility really comes in 2 forms.

The first is the kind of accessibility that lets visually or hearing impaired people participate in your game with minimal difficulty. You should 100% build this into your game from the get go. It’s very important.

The second level of accessibility comes in the form of players learning and adapting to your game quickly. This means getting your players to a point where they feel in control, and understand how to not only play the game, but succeed at it, as quickly as possible. Preferably without detracting from the quality of the game.

So how do you do this? Well a few ways really, firstly through simplicity and clarity of copy. Really refining your rules down to a point where they are suuuuuuper clear and straightforward, and for Pete’s sake get a copywriter to proof read it (hi Pete!)

Secondly, context. Phrase things in a way that reflects the familiarity and context of your theme. Posing complex problems in the context of human decisions and emotions make them far easier to understand.

Thirdly, don’t be afraid to use visual devices like colour or iconography to help people with recognising things they are going to be doing multiple times. The human brain is trained to recognise patterns, so use that to your advantage!

3. Be intriguing, without being overly complex or abstract

‘Ooo he’s so mysterious’ a random girl said to her archetypical teenage friend. ‘Yes, but also he’s a spec of dust’ said the friend.

Specs of dust are abstract ok. Probably too abstract to understand in the context of a relationship right? Maybe the girls were specs of dust too? Maybe she has a thing for specs… of dust (not just eyewear).

You were intrigued though right? Ooo the mystery.

The point is, it’s good to be mysterious, intriguing and have some surprises in your narrative and theme, just don’t make it too abstract. Abstract is ok with familiarity and context but without being able to recognise what is happening in a way that relates to the actual game, the meaning of that intrigue and mystery is lost.

4. Be evocative, without being purple

Ah man I’m gunna so decorate every room in my new house full purple. My girlfriend will love it, I know her least favourite colour is purple but just wait until you actually seee it in person.

Not convinced.

Yeah neither am I.

I’m not talking about paint colours or interior decorating though I’m taking about the literary definition of purple. That overly long wordy and flowery explanation that should have just been explained in a few simple sentences kind of purple. Bad purple! I also have a dog called purple.

Ok I don’t, but now I’m just sad because I don’t have a dog. SIGH.

There is a right and a wrong time for purple prose. Right time: an overly dramatic description of the scene that starts the game. Wrong time: explaining how your innovative turn mechanic works (and how basically any functional game mechanic works).

5. Be inclusive, without being vague

Here at BGLA we loooooove to be inclusive.

No seriously, that wasn’t even meant to sound sarcastic, I know it did.

We DO care though, and you should to when you’re designing your game! Being inclusive should be paramount to the design of your game, after al, you do want to get as many people as possible playing right?

There are a couple of exceptions and things to balance here though. If your game is designed to fill a specific niche. Go after those people first, and then work on inclusivity. Sometimes certain types of games only appeal to certain types of players, and your core demographic may be more important than watering something down to appeal to everyone.

As with everything, it’s all about the balance.

Yours balancingly,


TABLETOP PREVIEW: A Dog’s Life – Walk a Mile in their Paws

Full Disclosure: This review is unpaid and 100% unbiased though we were sent a preview copy of this game in advance of the kickstarter for the purposes of this review.


Some blogs don’t bother stepping into the wonderful world of reviewing but through the means of Kickstarter and also being aware that it might be ideal if I contribute back to the community, I’ve taken my first foray into the world of Tabletop reviewing. So what crazily complex euro game did you decide to review first Chris? Is it a strategy heavy, abstract and randomless tactically minded behemoth that will shatter our preconceptions about the meaning of tabletop gaming and all that it stands for!?

Well, no is the blunt answer to that.  It’s a game about dogs, where you get to be a dog (+10 woofs), ‘piddle’ on things (+10 woofs) and fight other dogs (+ another 10 woofs). And as the rest of my reviews will continue to be scored after this first review, I’m awarding thematically relevant points (woofs, obviously) based on an incoherent and abstract system where things I like get awarded points, and things that aren’t so great get minus points. SO with that in mind, review ho!


(it’s a link so you can click on it if you’d really like)


The game itself as you can see is a fairly family orientated affair, the friendly dog on the cover makes that fairly clear. If you take a quick look to his right you can see a lovely street ruffian ignoring the rules and laws of our advanced western society by taking a leak on a nearby source of light for pedestrians  (+20 woofs for canine disregard of the law).  From the box you can also see that this takes around 40 minutes and caters for between 2-6 players of 6 years plus.

Now, because I’m super nice and also have a fairly short attention span, I’m gunna give you my final thoughts up front. So if you really want to know if this is worth you buying or not, you can just read the next paragraph, close the tab and be done with it. For those who want a bit more of a detailed rundown I’ll go into a bit more detail afterwards.

Final Thoughts up Front…

This game is good for:

This game is good for families who are all about that dog life. If you live the dog life and love all things canine, and want a game for you and your kids to whittle away the hours to on a rainy Sunday afternoon, this is the game for you. The theme is great, the artwork is lovely and the production values are spot on  (+50 woofs for coloured dog miniatures).

This game is not good for:

If you are looking for a simple game for younger kids to explore themselves (-20 woofs for the rules being confusing enough to potentially give 6 year olds issue on their own), or you are looking for a strategically heavy dog themed game. Also if you are a super heavy euro-gamer or meta gamer, not the game for you. But then that is not the target demographic here anyway, so that’s kind of ok.

Things of note:

Overall we had a fun time playing this game, though it is not without it’s flaws. My main takeaway from this game was that though there is a lot of potential here (+10 woofs), and the illustrations and production is impeccable, the game falls down somewhat because of the large number of options and actions that each player gets to take on any given turn (-10 woofs). Plus some of the key mechanics are not all immediately obvious up front (-40 woofs).  It also felt like the game board was potentially too big, and that there was too many actions per player turn to either feel like you had a good chance of trying to slow down the player in the lead, or be affected much by what other players on the board were doing. We played with 4 players and felt almost like playing 4 seperate games with limited player interaction (-10 woofs).

That said, if you are after something that is fairly random, is quite straightforward and has a great theme (and you are fully up to the task of guiding younger players through their first 1 or 2 play throughs), then this is not a problem. It’s a light game, but with a little added strategic depth based on the individual dogs abilities (something I will go into more detail about in the next sections). I just wish that extra depth had been more obvious and up front than it is.

The Bit Where I Talk About the Actual Game


The game board represents a little town (+10 woofs for beautiful illustration) that the dogs (players) will be roaming around. The aim of the game is to be the first dog to successfully bury 3 bones in their yard, because as everyone knows, dogs love bones. Bones are like currency for street dogs. Street dogs live that bone life 24/7 yo (+10 woofs for bone life).

Bones can be found through begging at restaurants, searching trash cans, delivering newspapers or fighting other dogs.

Everyone starts the game by choosing a dog and then choosing a yard card at random, and placing their dog outside the corresponding yard. Now, the difference between the individual dogs is where the strategy comes in. Some dogs are better at searching trash cans, and some dogs are better at fighting, delivering newspapers, begging, etc.

As you make your way round the board you spend your action points on the above actions, and though the concept is solid, this is where some cracks start to show in the design…

Mechanics and Gameplay

Firstly, I love the fact that the dogs are all individually better at certain things (+50 woofs), but this is not obvious up front (-40 woofs), and you have to read the ‘game tips’ section before realising which dog is better at what task. What would have been better would be to have those strengths and weaknesses up front on the player cards. Key mechanics like this should not be hidden.


Secondly, though the variety of actions is interesting because you can cater your moves depending on what dog you are playing, the dogs potentially have too many action points to use up (-30 woofs), and the amount of actions available for those action points was at times overwhelming for us (slightly tipsy adults).

I’ll be honest, we even forgot which number action we were on as we counted through our own action points on more than one occasion (any action which needs a card to be drawn takes you away from playing through your turn). This breaks up the flow of the game unnecessarily (-10 woofs), and I don’t see that there would be any negative impact of lowering the amount of action points per dog to keep the game moving at a faster pace.

As you make your way around the board trying to find bones there is also a dog catcher that drives around, attempting to catch dogs and send them to the shelter. The shelter behaves somewhat like the jail in monopoly (-20 woofs) although you are always guaranteed to get out of it in max 3 turns (+10 woofs for incompetent dog shelter staff), although if you are playing with 6 players and get unlucky I can imagine getting quite bored quite quickly (-10 woofs).

The dog catcher also moves in a fairly random way, which actually adds to the excitement a little, as you are never sure if the dog catcher is actually going to catch you. Players who dislike randomness will find this annoying, but for a family it’s most likely a positive. The fact that everyone gets to move it after their turn also means that any negative effects of the dog catcher don’t feel particularly malicious or aggressive (+20 woofs), because it is almost entirely down to chance.

Hungry Dogs…

Another part of the game that is a great concept but doesn’t translate overly well into the gameplay, is the hunger mechanic. Before you take your turn you move your hunger track down 1 point. If you reach 0 hunger you then collapse (fall asleep if you are less dramatic than me) and get sent to the shelter. This falls down on 2 accounts, 1. being the fact that the more ‘hunger’ you have, the less you need to eat, which seems illogical (-10 woofs), and 2. being the fact that the mechanic felt almost entirely redundant throughout the game as only 1 player ever got down to 0 hunger, and that was through extremely bad luck (-20 woofs). We felt this could definitely be reworked so that the hunger track is potentially shorter, and it feels like something you have to always balance or manage against other aspects of the game.

Also, we absolutely had fun ‘piddling’ on various lampposts (who wouldn’t…) scattered across the board (+20 woofs for public indecency of the canine variety), but felt that the mechanic was let down slightly, as each dog had more than enough action points to often move through any piddle almost unhindered (-20 woofs, although you could house rules this so that ‘sniffing the piss’ so to speak, negated your whole turn).

Some Other Things

One of the really nice things about this game is the fact that they have included variations of rules in the back of the book to cater for different groups and different family play styles (+10 woofs for being nice and inclusive). You can easily adapt this game to suit different ability levels and add different elements of strategy, although as mentioned before there may be instances where you need to introduce house rules to counteract some of the more unbalanced elements.


For the most part we found the game to be enjoyable, as a light, frequently random board game designed primarily for families and children.

The theme and production values really are where the game shines, and if you have a family dog or kids that love animals then this will be a win from the get go (+50 woofs). The mechanics and gameplay plays very well into the theme, just make sure you thoroughly read the rules up front as they aren’t as clear about a lot of the key information as they could be (-10 woofs).

Really all this game needs to go from decent to great is that extra bit of mechanical polish, some consolidation of a few gameplay elements, and making the rules and flow more concise, clear and snappy.

That said, although I wouldn’t play this game with our regular gaming group (alcoholic adults), and I do think there are a few better tabletop games for children out there, as a well themed and more traditionally playing board game with some added strategic depth you could definitely do a lot worse than this (+20 woofs).

So, for the bit you’ve all been waiting for! The score! We’ve tallied the points and (drum roll please)…

Score: 60 Woofs

And I’m really certain that will help you with your purchasing decision…

Yours doggily,



You can back this game on Kickstarter from August 8th 2017

The difference between art and graphic design in tabletop design

Something that I understand is very easily confused when it comes to tabletop game design, and any other product design for that matter. What actually IS the difference between art and graphic design. Well, I’m gunna ATTEMPT to try and answer that question, and hopefully this is pretty on the button, since I am a designer in real actual life after all…

It can be on those buttons as well if you want, everyone loves those buttons. Sure it’s a bad joke but I’m just gunna go with it at this point 🙂

Both art AND graphic design are about communicating

THAT’S RIGHT KIDS, they ARE actually the same thing…

Well, not quite. But they’re quite similar for sure, I’m not about to make out over here like they are COMPLETELY seperate things. That’s ridiculous, and to be honest if you expected that to be the conclusion well then, shame on you? Shame on me? No idea. Actually don’t shame anyone, I feel like that’s a fair mistake to make.

Both parts of the visual puzzle though, are solving a very different communication issue.

Graphic design is about communication of a message and information

3 for the price of 3 no way! What a great deal, I’m in!

I’m sure more people genuinely DID buy more of that product as well. It’s the big yellow flashy label thing in the background.

The point is though that people have certain ways of reading, processing and interpreting visual information. That can be text, icon, colour or image. THAT is the graphic design side of the equation. Getting the information into peoples brains in the correct way, as efficiently and clearly as possible, with no chance of misunderstanding.

This comes down to things like layout, type selection, spacing, iconography, use of colour as a language, and all those other boring but actually quite super fun and definitely geeky things about design.

Art is more about communication of a story, an atmosphere or the world itself

Now here’s where it gets different. We’ve got the ‘boring’ (read: not boring, well, maybe it is, but to me it’s not boring, because I am a super design nerd and grids excite me for some strange reason. NO, not in THAT way, just in a totally normal and acceptable way to be excited, obviously) design side of things, and now the more fun and interesting art side of things.

Artwork is the world that the game exists in, it is the overall FEELING of the game and how the theme enhances the design. The artwork is about communicating an emotional attachment to a ficticious entity that your player can be a part of, you know, in their own brain. And just for a little bit, they can live there.

Here’s the catch though…

The distinction between both should be almost unnoticable

Whoever designed these spray cans  should be ashamed. THAT’S why  literally TENS of people ended up poisoning themselves… Ok so maybe it’s not that many but still. This is not cool. Design shame!

Thing is though, the most important and powerful thing to take away from this article is not that either art or graphic design is more important than the other. It is that the only way to create something TRULY immersive, engaging and that is immediately accessible and understandable, is to combine all aspects of BOTH.

No one is more important without the other, and I’ve seen countless projects on Kickstarter with incredible artwork, but terrible typography. Or a project with amazing information design, but horrendous art. The correct implementation of both of these, almost renders the distinction between the two impossible!

Yours designingly,


How to successfully implement improvisation in your tabletop game

For some people it’s the best thing, for some people it’s the worst. For me I sit formerly in the former camp (formerly former?), but then I like any game where I get to act stupid and put on a ridiculous voice. People I know tell me it’s not grating at all…

How do you get people who hate role playing into a role playing game though! I mean you could always just bribe them, but I’m not sure it would make for the most satisfying gaming experience, unless that bribe was some sort of elicit substance.

The other  route to take though is just to design it into your own game in such a way that people  either don’t realise they are role playing, or the system is intuitive enough to a point that those creative juices (gross) get flowing naturally.  And just because I’m feeling like a know it all and really just want to help, here’s how I think that’s possible…

Put your players in a situation where they have to act

Sometimes, as in D&D, the best way to get people to act or interact with something that is happening to them in the game world, is just to say ‘if you don’t act NOW, something bad WILL DEFINITELY HAPPEN.’

Get instinct to take over from rational thought in this way and you’re onto a winner. Because the most fun, hilarious and also stupid but strangely ingenious things are said when under the influence of the pressure to not immediately screw up.

Allow both no roleplay or full-on, balls to the wall character embodiment

You know what I’m just gunna say it. Some people suck at role playing.

HARSH. I know, but it’s true! Now that’s not a bad thing at all, it’s just natural yo. Some people are way better at some things than others. Just like I am way better about rambling over the same topic again and again and again, and you guys are probably way better at not reading it. You’re welcome.

It has to be ok though, in the flow of the game, to NOT BE great at role playing, even in a role playing game! Seems counter intuitive I know, and it is! Ok it’s not. Basically all I’m saying is don’t shame people for saying ‘I hit the enemy with my stick,’ any more than, ‘I jump through the piercing night sky as the voluminous mist wraps it’s icy tendrils around my dangling feet! The sky blackens as the weight of a THOUSAND   moons and suns courses through my sword of immense pain and death destruction, swinging fervently and fatally through the narrow brow of our unfortunately misadventuring orc adversary!’

Either one is good. Carry on!

Use simple, clear prompts

Just as seeing an alligator at the foot of your tiny destructable boat is code for ‘Get the shit off this sinking death vessel right now or you will end up luncheon meat for a reptile  with lots of scary teeth,’ so to should your improvisational role playing prompts be clear, concise and incredibly to the point. You want your players to understand what they have to do like, double quick sharp right now.

For example; ‘Make a rash decision as you sink.’ Sure, guess I’ll ‘get the shit off this boat  right now’ then.

Reward successful improvisation

To implement and encourage improvisation and role playing successfully you have to offer some kind of psychological reward  for completing an improvisation successfully.

That could be presents! Just like this amazing generic business man with flying present boxes stock imagery so perfectly depicts! Oh to have that many presents in a life!

Even if the incentive is ‘good job, you don’t die this turn,’ that’s still pretty good in my books.

Yours improvisationally (it works! Who’d have thought it, finally a sign off that works!),


The importance of prototyping in board game design

Everybody who has ever tried or successfully designed a board game before knows this, and probably most people who design anything really, know this as well. Always prototype.

‘But what if I just KNOW it will work, y’know, straight of the bat, because I’m the goddamn jesus of board game design yo.’

Well, you still need to prototype. Plus I think the board game design jesus at this point is already confirmed as Jamey Stegmaier, no? I digress…

You must ALWAYS prototype. Here’s why…

To judge physical product you need physical form

How else are you going to find out if your wooden counters look like tiny miniature dildos or not! It has to be done at some point, otherwise you’ll release a game with little wooden pieces that are shaped like dildos, and nobody wants tha… wait, there’s already a game with tiny dildo meeple in it? It’s the game in the image I posted above? Well, I guess that makes sense…

Thing is though, unless you have the physical form of the game in front of you to play, there’s no way of telling HOW people will react to it. Hell, they could even just randomly start shoving the wooden meeple up their a… wait sorry, bad taste, the dildo thing, yep I get it…

It allows you to design the environment as well as the game itself

And unfortunately if the environment ends up like it has in that image, then either you’ve done something very WRONG or very RIGHT, depending on what you’re going for I guess.

Finding out how the social and psychological environment of the game is a completely different kettle of fish to figuring out the mechanics, rules and all of the other general stuff though. Something that is almost MORE important than the detail of how the game works.

No idea why anyone put a fish in a kettle though, that seems kinda cruel really. Poor fish.

It shows you’re actually invested in making something

EXCEPT FOR THOSE SHOES. NEVER make those shoes. They are an eyesore and I really just don’t care how comfortable you SAY they are, they LOOK absolutely and completely horrific. I might actually be a little bit sick right now just from looking at them even…

Proof is something that REALLY matters though when it comes to crowdfunding, getting published or even just trying it out with some friends. The closer you can get to the REAL DEAL, the better of an idea you’re gunna get of how the game actually plays out. Plus people will think it looks amazing and then when they say; ‘Who makes this game again?’, you can confidently say, ‘Me.’

Ok maybe didn’t have as much clout as I thought it would.

So you can bin the rubbish ideas before wasting more time

Just like these unfortunate (presumably) guys on a stag do (presumably; lads, lads, lads!), if you want to save yourself from dressing up as a bad pantomime Zebra and coincidentally venturing into a wild tiger enclosure and proceeding to get ACTUAL killed by some ferocious felines, I’d recommend finding some way of weeding out the bad ideas and binning them. You know, before you go and hurt yourself or something.

People get scared of sharing because they think other people might steal their idea, and for the most part, other people just can’t be arsed putting in the effort to do something that elaborate or mean. SO just share stuff! That way, if it’s shit, you can suck it up, have a little cry when nobody is looking, bin it, and start again on something way way way way way way better.

That or another rubbish idea.

Yours prototypingly,



Why design isn’t just about making things look pretty…

Stop me because   you’ve heard it  before. Ohhhh, it’s a designer complaining that designers don’t get enough credit for their work, we’ve HEARD it already, sheesh!

Hear me out though.

I’m not here to complain or have a go at anyone because I feel underappreciated, I’m just here to talk about  something that happens a lot. A misunderstanding of what a designer is actually FOR. And a misunderstanding of what a GOOD one will bring to the table (along with donuts I hope, everyone loves it when people bring those to the table…).

So if designers don’t make things pretty, what do they do?! Well, sure designers can make stuff look pretty, but DESIGN as a discipline, is so much more than that hipster job title would suggest, here’s why…

It’s not just designers who design

Yeah you heard.

Design is everything around you. Engineering is design. Music is design.  Those weird hand holding, hangy down things on trains that force everyone to stand up for some reason, THOSE are design… at least in the sense that SOMEONE designed them, and (shock horror) that person may not have been a designer…

Design = problem solving

Now if the end result looks pretty you should be happy. But if the end result of design looks pretty AND solves a problem then you are onto a winner. Hold on to that big ass stick boy! Ok, that sounded weird… it’s the dog! Ah, forget it…

Design is using a visual language to solve a creative or communication problem or question. Effective design solves that problem, answers the question, communicates it effectively AND looks pretty. THAT’S the difference.

Design is an unspoken conversation

LOOK, it’s ENDLESS EARS. They go on forever. Unlike the attention spans of your audience or users if you don’t talk to them correctly. WHAT A LINK. Well, not really, but it’ll do!

Ok I need to stop watching that it’s making me feel slightly sick in my mouth.

This one carries on from the point before though. Good design not only COMMUNICATES a  message, but it does it in a voice that the audience or user understands. That second part is really the crucial bit.

Use those pretty visuals to communicate to your users, and talk to them in a visual language that they will understand. What you design should be NATURALLY intuitive, if it’s not, then do it again. That or start talking a different language to them, not sure there’s a duolingo course for that…

Selling the importance of design is down to effective communication

Ever had this reaction in a meeting…

Well, for the most part my experience suggests the reason for that is either you are dealing with someone who is like REALLY super dumb, OR the more likely story, you’re presenting work to someone in a way that they do not understand.

The fix is simple. Learn to pitch ideas and designs to people in a way that THEY can engage with it. The designer values different things to a marketer, or to a CEO, or to a develop or engineer. Explain the idea to them in a way that they value and can engage with, and you’ll be able to sleep well in the knowledge that less of your professional interactions will be met with the same expression as Mr. Hill up there…

Go forth and design

You heard!


Yours problem solvingly,