Category Archives: Game Education

Avengers: Infinity War and Medieval Fantasy Sieges Inspire Games Designed By Scouts At Bill Hart Spring 18 Merit Badge Midway

Several times a year I volunteer at local merit badge midways to run workshops for the Game Design Merit Badge that I helped to create for the Boy Scouts of America. On Saturday I led a three-hour workshop at the Bill Hart Merit Badge Midway in Santa Clarita, and as with every time I’ve run these workshops, I was impressed with the wide variety of games these young men designed.

My workshops always begin with a Socratic-dialog-heavy talk about the various elements that comprise a game, the different ways we can describe a game’s play value (what makes it fun to play), and how intellectual property rights apply to games. I then do an exercise with the boys in making changes to game rules to see what effects those have on players, using set of Spider-Man tic-tac-toe sets.  (You’d be amazed at the number of variations on tic-tac-toe the scouts have come up with over the past couple of years).  With each of these topics, the scouts satisfy various merit badge requirements.

The more advanced (and most fun) requirements involve the scouts proposing a game concept, and once I approve it, prototyping their game and playtesting it with other scouts.

Here are some of the games the scouts designed last weekend.



Race For The Stones!
by Ryan H, Troop 484

ace For The StonesThis trivia game was inspired by the upcoming Movie Avengers: Infinity War. If you’re a Marvel fan who has seen all the movies, this is a game for you! What impressed me about this game was the amount of details and thought that Ryan put into his game rules.

Vision Statement: Race for the Stones is a 2-4-player Marvel trivia game where you collect and battle for Infinity Stones as you move around the board answering trivia questions.

Play Value: A competitive race for the Infinity stones, the challenge of answer trivia questions, and building your ream of heroes to battle for victory.

Set-Up: 2-4 people can play.

  • Each player chooses a character tile  (Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, or Thanos).
  • Players put their player token on the Character Card space in front of them.
  • Divide character cards into two piles – Hero and Villain.
  • Place character cards face down on the board.
  • Place the 6 Infinity Stones on their matching Location spaces on the board
  • Shuffle and place the trivia cards face down on the board.
  • To determine who goes first, each player rolls the dice, lowest roll goes first.
  • Play goes counter-clockwise.

Progression:  Player rolls the dice and moves the corresponding number of spaces in any direction along the path. Players can turn corners, but cannot reverse direction on one roll of the dice.

Landing On Open Space

  • Draw the top card from the Trivia Card pile.
  • The player to the current player’s left reads the question.
  • If the question is answered correctly, the player keeps the trivia card in front of them.
  • Trivia cards are used as “points” toward obtaining Infinity Stones.
  • If the question is not answered correctly, the card is put in the discard pile and is not used again in the game
  • Multiple players can share a single space.

Land On Rainbow Bridge Space

  • If the player lands on a Rainbow Bridge Space, by exact count, they can move to any space on the board and act on that space.

Land On Character Card Space

  • You do not have to land on a Character Card Space by exact count.
  • You can stop movement on a Character Card without using the full role of the dice.
  • Player takes the top card off the pile. This is the end of your turn.
  • There is no maximum # of character cards a player can collect.

Using Character Cards:

  • Character cards form your “team” and are used to battle other players for Infinity Stones.
  • Each Character Card has a point value (1-5) used in battle.
  • Players keep character cards face down in front of them.
  • Hero Characters (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor) can only pick Hero Character Cards; The Villain character (Thanos) can only pick Villain Character Cards.

Infinity Stones/Location Squares

  • You must land on Infinity Stones/Location space by exact count or by coming from a Rainbow Bridge space.
  • To get an Infinity Stones, place 3 trivia cards from your pile on the discard pile.
  • Place the Infinity Stone face up in front of you.
  • If a player lands on an Infinity Stone/Location space they do not have to ‘buy’ a Stone.
  • If the stone from that location has already been collected, a player may challenge the stone’s owner for the stone. (See Battle Rules)
  • Once you declare a challenge, you cannot back out.

Battle Rules

  • Each character has a battle value from 1-5.
  • Both players, (Owner and Challenger) select up to three cards from their cards.
    • If the Owner being challenged has fewer than three cards, they play the cards the have in the battle.
  • Players call out “3-2-1!” and place their cards down face-up.
  • The player with the higher point total wins the battle.
    • If the stone’s owner wins, they keep the stone.
    • If the challenger wins, they take the stone.
  • If there is a tie, battling players take turns rolling the 6-sided dice, challenger goes first. The 1st player to roll a three (3), wins the battle.
  • The winner keeps one of the cards put into play during the battle that matches their character, hero or villain.
  • The remaining five cards are returned to the bottom of their respective piles (Heroes go back to the Hero Pile, Villains return to the Villain pile.
  • The winner of the Infinity Stone places it face up in front of them.

Resolution: The first player to collect four Infinity Stones wins, or the player with the most stones at the end of agreed upon play time.


  • 1 six-sided die
  • Game Board
  • 369 ± Trivia Questions. Each card has the related movie, the question and answer, and question # (for editing purposes) printed on one side of the card.
  • 30 Hero Character Cards (Labeled “Character Cards”
  • 30 Villain Character Cards (Labeled “CC” for the prototype)
  • 6 Infinity Stone markers
  • 4 player tokens



Stick Man Kingdom
by Russell R, Troop 484

Stick Man KingdomRussell was a little light on his rules but went all out on his board design. I especially liked his catapults!

Vision Statement: Stick Man Kingdom is a free-for-all board game for 2 to 4 players in which characters have exciting battles in the 4 turgs of Stick Men Kingdom to be the first to reach the end of the path.

Play Value: This board game has excitement with the challenge of battling enemies.

Set-Up: Each player chooses a character to play: a dwarf, a wizard, a knight, or a warrior, each having their own powers and weaknesses.

Progression:  Players take turns:Pick the top card from the deck to know how many spaces you can move and attack.

  • When you land on a space, it will give you instructions for what to do:
    • Ø means there is an enemy blocking the way
    • Ξ means you can battle an opponent
    • ↑ means you can level up
    • δ means that you get damaged on that space.

Resolution: The first player to reach the end of the path wins.


  • Player Avatars
  • Playing Card Deck
  • Catapults



Spin The Coin
by Diego T, Troop 2

Spin The CoinA game doesn’t need to have elaborate game board or rules. I think that scouts at the workshop had the most fun with this very simple party game.

Vision Statement: Spin The Coin is a cooperative team vs. team party game in a competition to get the lowest score.

Play Value: The cooperation of team effort and the competitiveness of trying to beat the other team.

Set-Up: Players divide into pairs. Each team gets a quarter and decides who will spin it.

Progression:  The game is played in 10 rounds.

  • One person on each team spins the quarter on a table.
  • The other person on each team tries to stop their team’s quarter from spinning.
  • The first team to catch their team gets 1 point, the next 2 points, and so on.

Resolution: The team to get the lowest total points at the end of 10 rounds wins the game.

Resources: A quarter for each team.

As always, the scouts were very inventive, given the limited resources and time they had available. Even better, they were not only proud of the games they made, they really enjoyed playing other scout’s games. After all, as I explained to them, creating fun experiences for others to enjoy is what game design is all about.



Fortune Challenge
by Mack B, Troop 582

Fortune ChallengeThis game also needed more development of its rules, particularly in making the game more replayable, but I liked the paper fortune-teller used in the game, since I used to make these when I was a boy.

Vision Statement: Fortune Challenge is a party game in which teams use a paper fortune teller to receive randomly assigned challenges, trying to be the first team to win 10 of them.

Play Value: The surprise of the challenges to perform.

Set-Up: Players divide into pairs. Each team receives a paper fortune teller that has been constructed beforehand with challenges inside.  Half are the mental challenge of answering a trivial question, the rest are physical challenges such as winning an arm-wrestling competition.

Progression:  The game is played in rounds.

  • One person on each team holds the fortune telling device.
  • The other person on the team chooses one of the four letters written on the outer folds of the fortune teller.  The first player then opens the fortune teller alternately left/right or forward/back based on the named letter’s position in the alphabet (A=1, B=2, and so on.)
  • The other person then chooses one of the numbers revealed inside the inner fold. The first player then opens the fortune teller alternately left/right and forward/back based on the number chosen by the other player.
  • The players then open one of the exposed flaps and performs the challenge written underneath.
  • If the players succeed in the challenge, that team gets a point.

Resolution: The team to first earn 10 points wins the game.

Resources: Paper fortune teller.



As always, the scouts were very inventive, given the limited resources and time they had available. Even better, they were not only proud of the games they made, they really enjoyed playing other scout’s games. After all, as I explained to them, creating fun experiences for others to enjoy is what game design is all about.





A Template For Game Pitch Powerpoints

Prior to doing their final Game Production projects, students at the Los Angeles Film School take a course called Concepting and Preprodution. The first half of this course involves each student creating a PowerPoint presentation for pitching a game concept of his or her choice. The students then all pitch their concepts to a Greenlight Committee consisting of faculty and other members of the school staff, who afterwards deliberate in private and select one or more projects for the students to develop as their Final Project.

Once informed of the Greenlight Committee’s decision, the students then break into development teams and spend the last half of the course creating a game design document, technical design document, asset document, and schedule for the development work to be done in their following courses, Game Production 1 & 2.

After serving on several Greenlight Committees, I found that many students did not provide the members with the information necessary to truly understand the game being propose, while others spent far too much time on story or other details that really did not impact the Committee’s decision.  So I decided to create the following template for the students to use, and it seems to have worked out well.


The first slide presents the game’s title and key art, as well as the student’s name. While this slide is displayed, students introduce themselves and the game they are pitching. This gives the students an opportunity to grab the Committe’s attention before launching into the details of their game.


Students say their elevator pitches while displaying an overview of the game’s essential aspects: it’s genre, theme (setting), play value (what makes it fun to play), a well-known game that’s similar, what features will make the student’s game different from the competition, and what game engine will be used to develop the game. This overview provides the Committee with a high-level understanding of the game, providing context for when the student begins discussing the details.


Students describe the game’s goals, core mechanics the player uses to achieve those goals, and the obstacles that determine the difficulty of performing the mechanics’ actions successfully. Students are also encouraged to include a diagram that illustrates how the mechanics work in relation to the game objects.

Gameplay, continued

Students describe the resources used to “fuel” the mechanics, along with any other ways those resources are produced and consumed. Finally, the students explain the different ways the game concludes through a win, loss and/or a draw so that the Greenlight Committee understands the player’s goals.

User Interface

Students explain the control scheme for the player’s use of keyboard, controller, mouse or other input device; the camera perspective used; and where game state information is displayed on the screen. Their PowerPoint should include a wireframe or other mock-up of the game screen and highlight the elements being discussed.


If the game has any semblance of a story, students give a short synopsis of its narrative in terms of its protagonist, antagonists, backstory, complication, and resolution, as well as the number of levels in the game. Because some students create overly-elaborate stories for their games, we limit the overall presentation to 8 minutes and begin to give warnings about going over the time limit at about this time in the presentation.


Students have the option to play samples of their choice of music for the game, including its main theme, low-key music (such as for an exploration mode), and intense music (such as during a combat mode). The music is embedded into the slide and played by clicking on a Speaker icon.


Students name who they would like to have on their team and the roles to which each would be assigned. Our rules are is that the Project Manager, Lead Audio, and Marketing person must have at least one other role, and that the Lead Programmer cannot have any other role. This prevents students from being assigned too much responsibility or too little.


Finally, students are required to explain at least three risks that might cause their project to be unsuccessful and what steps they can take to mitigate those risks. The one risk they are not permitted to list is “No enough time”, since they are required to pitch concepts of an appropriate scope to be done in the two months they have to produce the game.

Thank You

This final slide informs the Committee that the presentation is done and invites them to ask the students follow-up questions.


As I wrote above, this template seems to have worked well for our student’s Greenlight Presentations, and perhaps it would work well for you when you need to pitch a small-scale game project.