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How to Make a Field Game – Part 3 of 4

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Slightly abridged excerpt from Pete’s Guide to Working at Camp – Check out Part 1 and Part 2!

Part 3 – The Name


The Name of your game will make or break it. Really. It will.

Now, there are many games that have very basic, explanatory names, such as “Capture the Flag.” The Facilitator has the extra job of adding narrative to the explanation to entice and interest the players.

Your game has to be a little different, as the story makes the game. What is “World of Warcraft” without a story? What makes Mario interesting? You need to find a way to capture the imaginations of your players. Observe some Campers playing “Capture the Flag.” There is a certain world that people enter when participating in that game. They are no longer running around a field with fellow players – instead they are fighting a territory war. The act of grabbing the flag and running toward your side is an emotional experience that is hard to replicate.

 The J-Ball Example

A bunch of years ago, a counselor wanted to play a new game with his Campers. They were all big Dodgeball fans so he decided to make a few alterations to the game. Essentially, he made some small tweaks that increased participation and safety without changing the core principle of the game – hit another player with the ball. He called the game “J-Ball” (as his name was Jay) and quickly it was the only thing that 1,000 Campers talked about for the next 3 or 4 years.

Inspired Imaginings 

Word association time: Boardwalk.

Monopoly anyone? Boardwalk is simply another space on the playing surface. There is nothing special about it beyond the spot’s importance in the game. Of course, you are not even playing the game, perhaps have not played Monopoly in several years. And Boardwalk is still there in your memory.

The lesson here is that games are not all about the goal or the rules – they are about the entire experience. Part of that experience is the story that surrounds the circumstances presented to the player. Every detail that you give will make the game more immersive and engaging.

Your game has some ingredients, it has some stuff and now you need to add a story. The story does not need to be terribly complex. J-Ball worked (almost) entirely because of the name. You completely control this part of your creation. You can create an entirely epic narrative around your vision, or just come up with a goofy name. Make sure whatever you have is unique and creative. Remember, silly sells!

Before you go and spread your new creation to the planet, there is one very important secret to share… In “Part 4 – The Secret” coming next week!