6.1 What are Rules?

Big Ideas for this lesson 
Guiding Questions          
Recommended Games     
Rules describe how to play a game.

Rules also create the play experience of the game.

Rules constrain what a player can and cannot do in a game.
What are the qualities of good rules?

How do players come to learn the rules of a game?

Musical Chairs

Red Light, Green Light

What's on for today:

Students begin by playing a non-digital game to set the stage for a discussion of game rules and then modify those rules to see how it affects the play. Next they build on this understanding by modifying a game they previously designed in Gamestar Mechanic around a given criteria.

What you need:

-Index cards
-One copy of “Reflection worksheet” per student
-One copy of “Playtester feedback worksheet” per student

What's attached:

-Reflection worksheet
-Playtester feedback worksheet


Total: 1 hour

Discuss - 5
Modify - 15
Circle Up - 15
Design - 25

Reflect - If time allows


5 minutes

1. Have students share their thoughts on:

    What is a rule?

    Is it possible to play a game without knowing the rules?

    Why do you think rules are necessary?

15 minutes

1. Divide the students into 4 groups and ask them to first play, then modify Musical Chairs (or an- other game of your choice). Their challenge is to do so based on one of the following challenge criteria:

    Modify two rules such that the game becomes harder to play.
    Add two new rules such that the game becomes faster.

    Modify the rules such that the game becomes unwinnable.

    Add one rule that affects the movement of the players.

    Modify one rule that would allow players to cheat.

Use index cards to create the challenge criteria.

2. Either assign groups one of the challenge criteria or have them draw one for their group out of a hat.

3. Once each group has received a challenge criteria send the groups off to separate spaces in the room to work on their game. Encourage them to playtest throughout their design process. If your class is small, you can have the students work in a single group, and do this exercise several times, using a different challenge criteria each time.

Circle Up
15 minutes

1. Present and play each of the modified games. Discuss the kinds of changes they chose to make to meet their challenge criteria. Were there differences in the kinds of rules they had to work with? Which were easier or more difficult to alter?

25 minutes

1. Students are now challenged to repeat this process within Gamestar Mechanic, modifying one of the games they have made in a previous session using the challenge criteria listed above.

2. If time allows, have them build a game with multiple levels, all based on the same game. Each level is then modified based on the challenge criteria.

If Time Allows . . .

1. Have students reflect on their designs, either in their playtest notebook or in their blog.

2. Ask them to reflect on the role of rules in the design process:

    How can rules help a designer in the process of making a game?

    Is it possible to have too many rules? Too few?

    How do they let a player know the rules of their game? Must they always be written down or do     players find other ways of knowing them?

How did it go?

Did students learn different ways of modifying game rules?

Were they able to demonstrate an understanding of how a change in rules affects the play of the game?

Did they understand that rules can be learned in a number of ways by players?


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Jan 4, 2011, 8:09 AM