Department: Media Lab
Degree programme: MA in New Media
Author: Markku Lappalainen
Title: Good Life Game Prototype - Designing Game Mechanics for Group Interaction
Level: Diploma Work
Number of pages: 111

Abstract:

In this final thesis I describe in detail the development of the board game prototype Good Life. Originating from my disillusionment with the overly hyped online gameplay of contemporary computer and video games, this design project aims to research and exploit the close group interaction of modern board games. Trying to find ways to use and improve the cohesive, communal qualities of board games, I also examine how the game mechanical findings and innovations could be transferred to online game environment. Before the detailed description of the game development phase there is a brief overview of the prototype, followed by theoretical background discussion about the history and cultural role of games and game playing in general. Building on the work of e.g. David Parlett, Johan Huizinga, Janet H. Murray and Espen J. Aarseth, I proceed to give an account of my game mechanical influences - more than 60 board games and numerous video, computer and online games were tested for the purposes of this thesis. To maximize the challenge and difficulty and thus hopefully game mechanical innovation, Good Life is a board game prototype based on the demanding subject of a human's life arc from the cradle to the grave, with each player playing the whole life of a single character during a game session. Having long been fascinated by the concept of a life game, it was a natural choice for me to develop one for this final thesis; here I also provide an overview into this small game genre. The game development period is elaborately recounted and illustrated with my original pencil sketches. Along with the nitty-gritty of design choices, problems and other practicalities, I also give an account of various game mechanical concepts involved. For instance, I delineate cooperative gameplay elements, as well as my thematic aspirations, like how to make the game reflect actual everyday life by its mechanics and atmosphere. The playtesting phase is documented next after which I move on to reflections on how the game could be improved and streamlined. I conclude this thesis with bolder, more imaginative visions of the future possibilities of Good Life in various board, electronic and online game formats. The appendices of this final thesis are composed of the rules and the game pieces prepared for the Good Life prototype.

Materials: Written thesis
Keywords: game development, game design, game mechanics, board games, group interaction, life games, cooperation, online games
Where deposited: Media Lab library, UIAH library
Confidential until: