How are game mechanics created

How a board game is made: 7 steps from the idea to the finished game


Board games are more popular than ever. Even computer and console games have not diminished this popularity. On the contrary.

On the Internet, people fight against each other and chat with one another, but the players are fixated on the screen. Video games cannot replace the social experience of a game night with friends and family. Board games like Activity - as the name suggests - only work so well in company that tears are laughed at.

In the beginning there was the idea ...

Around 3,000 new games come onto the market in German-speaking countries every year. This is due on the one hand to the fact that people like to play in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, and on the other hand to the fact that, thanks to this enthusiasm for board games, there are many game publishers and game authors in these countries. But only a few games are produced by the publishers and even fewer make a breakthrough on the market: after a year, nine out of ten new releases have disappeared from the toy retailers' shelves.


What makes a successful game? It is important that it is fun and that people enjoy playing again. In addition, there is no general answer to this question. It is easier to outline the steps in the process of creating a board game.


Step 1: develop an idea

At the beginning there is always an idea. This idea can arise from enthusiasm for board games. Because many game authors have started to expand and change the rules of their favorite games. At some point that is no longer enough and the inspiration from countless games with friends and family gives rise to the idea of ​​a completely new game. This is how one of the most successful games came about: Activity. However, the idea can also develop from the interests of the game designer. The author of the strategy game Golden Horn, which is about maritime trade between Venice and Constantinople, is, for example, a doctor of history from Italy.



Simple rules

It is important to implement this idea as a playful experience! To do this, a game mechanic must be found that is not too complicated. The simpler and more understandable the rules, the more likely the game will be successful. Of course, it also depends on the target group of the game: Children's games should work according to very simple principles. The rules for adult games can be a little trickier. Nevertheless, the game description should be compact. The introduction to the game or the preparation of the game must not get out of hand into a full-length event. Also, the most popular games are those that younger and older players can play together.


Are there any similar games?

Developing a game is a lot of work. Therefore, at the beginning there should be a reality check: Are there already similar games? What game would my creation be compared to? How does my game mechanics differ from similar games? What is my game about? The answers to these questions can be answered by researching the Internet or talking to dealers and acquaintances. The aim of this competition analysis is to answer the question: Is it worth pursuing my game idea?

Behind every idea there are many hours of work, test games and revisions.

Step 2: design game elements

The game principle is fixed. The first set of rules has been formulated. Then the components of the game (game board, cards, cardboard parts, etc.) are designed. It's about a visualization of the game that is as functional as possible. This happens graphically on paper and / or on the computer.


Step 3: make the game model

Then the crafting lesson begins. The game author himself builds the first game from the final draft. The game plan is drawn or printed out and stuck on cardboard. The same applies to playing cards and cardboard parts. Figures, dice or other accessories can be borrowed from other games or bought in toy shops. Skilled hobbyists have a clear advantage here. Attention to detail can't hurt to impress the playtesters.


Step 4: test and improve the game

Now it's getting really exciting: the board game is being played for the first time. As often as possible. With changing players and different numbers of players. From the beginning to the bitter end. Valuable knowledge is gained - about the comprehensibility and practicability of the rules, about game dynamics, game moves, game duration, game fun and much more. Building on this, the rules are adapted and the game improved until everything fits.


The important thing is: The inventor's pattern must be complete and playable. Everything that is needed to play, including dice and pawns, must already be included.



Step 5: find a game publisher

Ready. Set. Go! After the test phase, a final prototype of the game will be made. Now it is important to find the right game publisher who will produce and sell the game. Does my game fit into the publisher's offer? Does the publisher offer similar games? The answers to the questions from the competition analysis in step 1 can be helpful here again. The peculiarity of your own game must be clearly recognizable. Because every year manufacturers receive hundreds of mails from game designers who would like to make their game a reality. The publishers therefore take a close look at the game ideas. Only a few are accepted.

New games are put through their paces.

Step 6: further development, game design & production

Hit landed! Now the soccer rule “after the game is before the game” applies. The game publisher tests the game itself again and, based on its experience, usually brings in further improvements to make the game fit for the market. This also means that the manufacturer determines the game design and gives the game a final name that must fit into the language areas in which the game is to be offered. So it can take a while for the game to actually go into production. When the time comes, the publisher will also take over the marketing.


Step 7: The game goes on sale

Done! Your own game is on the shelves of the toy trade. Now it just has to wander over the counter en masse. That happens very rarely. There are only a few full-time game authors in the world. Some celebrate success with the first game idea, others only devote themselves to the games after years.


The global top seller Activity has been sold eight million times. But most board games sell between 5,000 and 30,000 times. The “Game of the Year” award enables sales figures in the six-digit range.

There is a lot of creativity, work and attention to detail in each of our game boxes.