6.2 The Art of Writing Rules

Big Ideas for this lesson 
Guiding Questions          
Recommended Games     
Rules describe how to play a game. What are the qualities of well written rules?

What are qualities of a good game description?
Quest - Addison Joins the League:

    Security System Rules,
    Episode 3 Mission 5

    Harmony of Health and            Time, Episode 5 Mission 2

What's on for today:

Learning to write good rules can be challenging. Students will practice this skill as they learn to write game labels for their Gamestar Mechanic games.

What you need:

-A few copies of a screenshot of a filled out game label to pass around
-Multiple copies of “Playtester feedback worksheet” per student

What's attached:

-Screenshot of a filled out Game Label
-Playtester feedback worksheet


Total: 1 hour and 20 minutes

Warm Up - 10 minutes
Play - 20 minutes
Discuss - 15 minutes
Design - 15 minutes
Playtest and Iterate - 10 minutes
Circle Up - 10 minutes


Warm Up
10 minutes

1. Have students write down the rules to Tic-Tac-Toe (or another simple game of your choice). 

2. Share the results and compare them to the standard rules (found here).

3. Discuss what kinds of information need to appear in a list of rules for a game.

4. Document the class’s observations and save for later use in the class.

20 mintues

1. Create a game or select a few games from Game Alley that have well written game labels.

2. Have the students play the games.

15 minutes

1. Begin a conversation around the Gamestar Mechanic games they just played. Have one or two students volunteer to describe how the game is played, providing an overview of the rules.

2. Look at the game labels for the games described. How did the game designer approach the writing of the rules? What kinds of information are included? What is left out, to be discovered by the player? Are there kinds of rules in Gamestar Mechanic that don’t need to be written out? If so, why? Can the game label in Gamestar Mechanic be used for other kinds of information? If so, what kinds of information might it contain? Narrative information? Clues? Tips or tricks?


15 minutes

1. Have students open their most recent Gamestar Mechanic build job or a game in their Toolbox and fill out the game label for it, as well as the intro and outro screens for each level. Or have them design a Gamestar Mechanic game from scratch, paying particular attention to the role of the game description, intro and outro screens.

Playtest and Iterate
10 minutes

1. Pair off with another student and give feedback on the clarity of the label and other textual screens (Intro and Outro, Tips and Tricks).

Circle Up
10 minutes

Invite students to share ways they experimented with the game label, intro and outro screens:

    Did filling the game label get you to think about your game in a different way?

    How did you come up with a particular game description or a win message?

    How did you decide on what tips and hints to give the player?

    What other feedback did you receive and what changes did you make?

How did it go?

Did students learn to create well-written game labels for their games?

Did they make revisions to their labels after get- ting feedback from other players?

Did students explore different ways of using the intro and outro screens to explain their game concept?

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Jan 4, 2011, 8:10 AM