Slightly abridged excerpt from Pete’s Guide to Working at Camp
This essay breaks down a simple step-by-step process of creating a winning outdoor game. You should try this at least once before coming up with your own system. Some of your games will be incredible, some… not as incredible. The more games you make, the more confident you become about running and implementing new outdoor experiences.
Why ask why? Just do.
A Much Better Explanation
Creating a game is an excellent way to leave your mark on the world. Games are viral. No one owns the copyright, nor is there a way to fake success. Good games will circulate through the system and stay alive as long as people enjoy playing them.
Normally, games come from a set of needs. A game creator, consciously or subconsciously, evaluates the current situation of general boredom and puts together a set of rules based on previous conventions. The game is played. Tweaks are made. Eventually the players ask to play again or carry a variation of the rules to another location. The game is repeated and before long there are several iterations being played around the globe.
Maybe. Ideally. Sure.
How to Proceed
There are four basic steps to game creation. The instructions were written to be followed in sequence, so please do not skip around until after you have skimmed each section! I’ll be posting all four over the next four weeks on this very blog. Who would have guessed?
Part 1 – The Stuff
Who are the Players?
When checking out a new game, you first need to consider how many Players are needed. To create a game, you ask the opposite question: How many Players do I have?
This is a straightforward question. Most of the time, the answer will be between 6 and 8 players, as you will be testing this game with your group. Going larger than that becomes tricky, as the game may need some tweaking before it runs perfectly.
Another aspect to consider is the average age of the Players. Older participants are going to have different gaming desires than younger ones.
What Props are needed for the game?
The next big question when running a game is what kind of objects are needed, if any. The correct question when creating a game is: What Props do I have?
Grabbing a handful of strange props is an excellent way to start off the game creation process. While many games do not have props, such as Freeze Tag, using a unique item can open the imaginations of the Players and enhance the narrative.
Where can you play the game?
After knowing who is playing and what objects are necessary, you need to evaluate the best place to play. How much Space do you have to play on?
Choose your Space wisely. Everyone loves a large field game, but there is a greater risk of some unseen hazard lying under the grass. Your location should be out of the way of anyone else and be wary of such factors noise or projectiles. Whether you are indoors or outside, be aware of the natural elements that could support your game and take advantage!
How long does this game run?
The last question you need to answer when creating a game is: How much Time do I have?
This question already has an answer: 10 minutes! You will learn more when you get to the “The Secret.” Unless you are planning an epic game and have the support of other facilitators, drastically limit the time – especially on the first run!
And Now You’re Ready…
Technically, considering these factors is supposed to be done before designing a new game. Everything is going to have some level of flexibility, as long as you do not have obscure or hard-to-find requirements (such as a Tetherball course).
On a sheet of paper, write down your preliminary idea for the Players, Props, Space and Time. These values may change, but they are the most important place to start.
Now that you know what your Stuff is, you need to figure out what to do with it! Keep your eyes out for “Part 2 – The Actions.”