Individual Game: Materiality and Prototyping

As Ian Bogost discussed in his book ‘Alien Phenomenology, Or, What It’s Like to be a Thing‘: the activity of getting something to work, whether it is a table, a program or a board game, is called ‘carpentry’. The game maker as a carpenter has to cope with “the material resistance of his or her chosen form” in order to turn the object into a philosophy. When applying Bogost’s idea to the process of making a board game, philosophical carpentry helps portray the relationships between objects and objects and accordingly conveys ideas to us – the players.

Following my initial ideas discussed in my blog post last week, I have decided to make my game based on the mythological theme. My game will be called ‘Stairway to Hell’, a board game where players become a hero in one of the following races of creatures: human, wizards, elves and orcs, on the journey to defeat the great devil – Hades, who reigns the realm of the dead – the Underworld. During the journey, players will collect resources to help improve power and upgrade items.

As prototyping provides the opportunity to test a design idea in different ways to see whether the idea is functional in practice and get a better understanding of how it works on the tabletop, I have created a prototype of Stairway to Hell. It consists of a board game that also acts as a map. The game requires 2 to 4 players, corresponding with the number of heroes available. Therefore, there are up to 4 plastic pieces that illustrate each player’s character. Players use a dice to move around spaces on the board. On each space stands a demon with different strength. Players kill demons to earn a reward or experience which is used for upgrading items, power and ability. Experiences stand as a form of currency in the game which can be used to buy items. Cards will be used to illustrate items, character statistics and other forms of rewards, which makes it easier for players to track everything.


My draft map for the game prototype

Regarding the philosophical carpentry of Stairway to Hell, the game represents different mythological creatures that exist in various mythologies around the world, with most of which come from Greek and Egyptian mythology. The reason why I am doing this game is that players have the chance to “live” as one of their favorite characters that only exist in fairy tales such as wizard, elf and orc right in the game. Moreover, the game also teaches about the journey of heroes on defeating the devil, which has been told in many mythological stories.




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