Game Design

This interdisciplinary lesson helps students connect the dots between the games people have played in America over three centuries and the advances made in game design and technology today. After an in-depth exploration of the Game Time! exhibit—including the opportunity to study board games, role-playing games, and puzzles—students record their findings and reflect on what they have learned.

Lesson extensions for before or after your visit 

The following activities are designed for your class to enjoy before or after your museum visit. Familiarizing students with the lesson concepts can enrich their museum experience.

Game design statistics

Assign each student the task of taking an inventory of the games in their home. Use the classrooms at your school for additional or alternative inventories. Create a chart for students to use to collect data. Charts should include columns for students to indicate game title, type of game (board, card, electronic), suggested age range of players, number of players, if it is gender specific, topic, and if the game requires skill or luck to win. After students have collected the data, ask them to analyze their findings and explore questions such as:

  • What is the average recommended age of players for the games inventoried? Why do you think this is so?
  • How many people are needed to play most games? How does the number of players affect the experience?
  • Are more games designed for girls or for boys, or are they geared equally toward both genders?
  • Which games are most popular: games that require skill or games that are won by luck? Why do you think this is so?
  • What do you notice about the topics of the games we play today?
  • As you look at the data collected, what else do you notice?

Design a game

Have students design a game that helps reinforce concepts or skills related to a topic previously discussed in class. Students may work alone or in pairs to develop their ideas and create a prototype of a game to share with their classmates. Students could design a trivia game, board game, video game, card game, or another type of game. Reserve an afternoon to review the topic by playing the games students have created.

Game design timeline

Explore the museum’s online game collection. Have students search the collection to find five or more games that interest them and also represent how games have changed over time. Instruct students to print out the game images. Hang the images on a wall in the classroom or hallway to create a timeline. Start with the oldest game and end with the most recent. Once all students have added their games, take time to discuss the data collected.

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