Game Idea Game

How do people come up with initial ideas for games? This little creativity tool can help you train your brainstorming capabilities, whether alone or in a group. Your task is to combine random game aspects into a quick, coherent idea.

I created the Game Idea Game for a student project I led at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar in 2015/2016 and now it is available online.

In the typical game design process, lots and lots of ideas are created, iterated, improved, sometimes fleshed out and developed, sometimes discarded. When searching for that next brilliant game concept, it can be very useful to get a few people together for a brainstorming session and just start pumping out ideas and talking about them. Coming up with a wide variety of game ideas is a skill that does not come naturally to everyone, but it is something that can be practiced and trained.

This set of cards was developed to give aspiring game designers those initial sparks. Staring at a blank page can be daunting, so the cards give keywords from various categories that can foster and steer creativity, to be used in any way that gets the ideas flowing.

Print this document on A4 paper (or larger if you want bigger cards) and cut along the lines. Glue to colored cardboard for extra sturdiness.

Suggested gameplay: Shuffle objective cards seperately, shuffle all white cards in a big pile. Each player draws six white cards and keeps them on hand. Starting with the most experienced player and then going clockwise, each turn the current player flips over an objective card and adds three cards from their hand to it. They then have 30 seconds to explain a game concept that incorporates all those elements. They may add as many cards from their hand as they can incorporate into the idea. Afterwards they draw two new white cards from the pile. If they cannot come up with an idea at all, they have to take the three cards plus one from the pile back on their hand. The first player to completely clear out all cards on hand during their turn wins the game.

Reminder: Above all, this is a creativity tool. If something about this doesn't work or isn't fun, change it! Add or remove any cards you want, change the rules to be less competitive (or more competitive), just do whatever works for you and have fun!