How To Make A Game: Four Great Online Resources for Aspiring Designers

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Love board games? So do we! Join host Becca Scott here on Geek & Sundry for  Game the Game, where she breaks out the best games in tabletop and plays them with fantastic guests.

Have a great game idea, but no idea what to do with it? Want to geek out about game design, but don’t have a local convention coming up? We asked top game designers where they go online to learn about, teach about, and discuss game design. There’s all kinds of great discourse happening if you know where to find it. Check out these resources from the comfort of your computer!

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Cardboard Edison

“I’m surprised how much quality game design theory is being discussed on Twitter,” said Vee Hendro, the co-designer of  Good Society: a Jane Austen Roleplaying Game. “It’s a great place to poke your head in and see all the big names!”  Of course, just logging onto Twitter can result in an over-inundation of information, not all of it useful, so it’s important to know where to start.

That’s where  Cardboard Edison comes in! Daniel Solis, designer of Kodama and Junk Orbit, recommended following Cardboard Edison, which does a great job of curating game design blogs, threads, and videos on their  Twitter and Patreon pages. If there’s a great thread about game design somewhere, chances are, Cardboard Edison will find and share it!

While you’re on Twitter, our experts recommended threads posted by  Eric Lang about design and inclusiveness, and — speaking of Daniel Solis —  a thread he wrote (and turned into a YouTube video) about graphing the arcs of different types of gameplay.


This chart by designer Daniel Solis was part of a study on “arcs” in games he posted as a thread on Twitter and Youtube

Designer Blogs

The most recommended resource by our experts was Jamey Stegmaier’s  Stonemaier Games Blog.  “He writes down his entire game design life,” said Jon Ritter, Operations Manager of Lay Waste Games, who created the board game  Dragoon. “I don’t know many designers who haven’t read at least one of his articles.”

Marcus Ross, designer of  Discount Salmon and  Beeeees!, also recommended designer  James Mathe’s blog, which covers design, Kickstarter, and more. According to Marcus, these two blogs are the “standard” for advice on design and Kickstarter.

Google+ Communities

“Game Design may be the only thing Google Plus is still used for by anyone,” said Avery Alder, designer of tabletop roleplaying games including  Monsterheartsthe Quiet Year, and  Dream Askew. Many of our game experts recommended Google Plus as the top social network for game design — the mix of social network and long-form blog options on Google Plus may just be the perfect mix for game designers looking to discuss their craft. Plus, hangouts allow folks to play games right on the same site!

Games On Trial is a Google+ community where RPG designers can not only discuss their in-development games, but also playtest them using Google Hangouts!

Board Game Design is just one of the several thousands-of-members community where game design is discussed among professionals and aspiring designers alike. Search around for a page that appeals to you, or find the designer of your favorite game and follow their progress, too! Just remember to be respectful, not entitled, when joining in on conversations.

GDC Vault

The Game Developers Conference is a gathering of game design professionals started in 1988, and though its focus has primarily been video game design, Daniel Solis said he finds their resources relevant for the design of board games as well. GDC Vault contains a wealth of information, including postmortems on “what worked and what didn’t” for indie games. “Learning from other people’s mistakes is useful, regardless of whether the medium might be,” Daniel said. GDC Vault offers lots of free content, as well as a subscription option for even more.

Additionally, the GDC YouTube page has free archives of talks, including some about tabletop games, so you can learn about design from experts without having to make a social media account or wade into a discussion board!

More Resources

Of course, there are many more than four online resources for game designers. Here are some recommended by our experts:

  • The Gauntlet is an online community for RPG design and playtesting.
  • Avery Alder runs a  mentorship program for Indie story-game developers.
  • The  Indie Game Developer Network has a large set of articles and resources for tabletop designers
  • Facebook Groups: “There are great Facebook groups that don’t cost money to join,” said Jon Ritter. “Of course, there’s always going to be bad advice because it’s the internet, so take everything with a grain of salt.”
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Our Game Experts: Cara Heacock & Marcus Ross, Hayley Gordon & Vee Henro, Daniel Solis, Avery Alder, and Jon Ritter.

Where’s your favorite place to learn about game design online? What did we miss? Tell us in the comments! And be sure to join host Becca Scott on  Game the Game every Thursday here on Geek & Sundry to watch the best board games played with fantastic guests!

Want more boardgame design advice?

Image Credits: Cara Heacock & Marcus Ross, Haley Gordon & Vee Henro, Daniel Solis, Avery Alder, Jon Ritter, Teri Litorco

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