Narrative experiences in board games are still evolving. There are lots of experiences I enjoy, but I am always looking to explore what games are doing. My most recent foray into narrative board games came courtesy of Fail Faster.* Blaise Sewell and Jay Cormier wrote and designed a narrative board game experience around designing games.
The game is designed primarily for children, so I approached it with my son who is 11 years old. We both found the content engaging and extremely useful. As a homeschool parent, I can highly recommend it as an integrated part of curriculum. The book uses logic prompts, explains why you might do certain things, leaves room for exploring creatively, and then allows you to build your own game at the end. Throughout the book, there is a story and then prompts. The prompts help you to create your own open ended board game after guiding you through a basic roll and move board game and then adding different elements to different games you interact with in the book.
In Design Your Destiny: Running Out of Time, two students are stuck in a time loop of sorts and must figure out how to deal with some time agents. The story is engaging enough that my son enjoyed the experience of reading together. Since the game will offer an instructor/teacher version with student booklets I could easily see this being used as a supplemental in class for something like Language Arts. The students could take their books home and write each night, bringing them back with their ideas to present to the class. I love things that promote creativity and this book and game definitely fit the bill.
As someone who plays with game design myself semi-professionally (I work for Catastrophe Games and Valor Mountain Games), I think that adults may even benefit from this game too. The prompts are joyfully fun and don’t require you to read a larger book in order to get reminders about important aspects of game design. For those who enjoy journaling and game design challenges, there is no age this book wouldn’t be good for as an enjoyable way to spend some time designing around challenges. It another asset in the Fail Faster arsenal.
For parents and educators, it is an excellent tool. When a student needs something to do for a bit, they can grab this and try to design a better version of their game. There are enough pieces in the box for them to try some different things and find out if their game works. My son was re-energized and encouraged by this book to continue to explore more in game design. If your kids or students have tried to design games, or they have been interested and this is their first experience, this book may help them to focus in a similar way.
I would highly recommend this game design tool for students in grades 4 through 6 in the U.S. Older and younger students (and adults!) can get something out of the entire experience too!
Design Your Destiny: Running Out of Time
Published by Fail Faster, Designed by Blaise Sewell and Jay Cormier
Aesthetics: Artwork not Finalized in our Copy
*Our review copy, which was a prototype, was provided by the publisher. No other compensation was provided and my opinions are my own.