Design Theory
Joe Slack

10 ways to come up with brilliant game ideas

Everyone loves a good top 10 list, so I thought I would put together a list of my 10 favorite ways to come up with new board game ideas. I’ve mentioned some of these methods in The Board Game Designer’s Guide but I’m also going to add some new ideas here. 1. Play lots of

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  1. I’ve struggled that way as well, sometimes. I actually really like theme in games, but I also often ignore it when playing, which is silly because I enjoy when I can lean into it, even when it makes me lose.

    As for design, here’s why I find theming so helpful. It’s like a thesis statement in a paper (sorry, I’m an English teacher). It gives me focus. Without a theme, EVERYTHING is possible. I start throwing in every idea that occurs to me, and that’s silly. Furthermore, the ideas are all rather generic until I get a theme. When I can tie ideas to the theme, I find they make more sense, even if it’s a loose tie. And I get more creative, finding new ideas I wouldn’t have otherwise because I’m automatically excluding ideas that don’t fit the theme–when you have to skip a lot of low-hanging fruit, you start finding the more interesting ideas.

    Lots of designers, when asked, say they don’t start with theme or mechanism, but both. I’m not sure I TOTALLY buy that, but I believe they begin integrating them very early. I really think it helps you focus your ideas.