Q&A with Artist and Game Designer Eric Streed
Q. How do you start making board games?=
A. I would start by playing lots of different board games! Find out what kind of games you like, and what about those games you enjoy. Is it the theme? Do you like drafting cards? Do you like worker placement? What parts of those game maximize on that sort or play?
After you’ve started thinking about those questions, start small. Make an “expansion” to a game you already know and love. Change a rules set, or get some cheap custom cards made for it. See how the rules you change or the elements you implement add to or subtract from the game.
Game design is a skill that takes practice to get better at, your first game is not going to be perfect. Instead of perfect, focus on “Done”. The artist Jake Parker spreads the message “finished, not perfect”. This idea encourages to complete a project, and then start the next one and make it even better. Consider the table presence of the game you want to make, think of that peak moment you want to give a player, and build towards that.
Q. How did you start making board games?
A. I went to school for art, focusing on video game design. I worked for animation studios and on independent video games for a while but found the process slow and unfulfilling. I ended up co-founding a small company a few years after college and got involved making board games and immediately saw a shift. I could quickly hold my game in my hands and play it with other people. The efficiency, community, and tactile nature of board and card games really rekindled my love of game design.
Q. What is the hardest part of making board games?
A. For me the hardest part of game design is iterating. I get an idea, work with people to iron out the details, do the art for the game, get a prototype made up, and start playtesting, only to start finding issues in the design. This is a super normal part of the design process, no game is going to work perfectly right out the gate. This is the piece of the puzzle that gets very granular though, where you are fiddling with numbers, changing rules occasionally, altering the setup and win conditions. This is a crucial piece of the design process, but its also challenging as it also takes the most time.
Q. What resources are there out there for aspiring board game designers?
A. There are lots of great resources for game designers out there! There are social media groups, there are cheap game design kits available online, I’ve even hand cut cards and drawn on them for perfectly functional prototypes. After you have spent a little time making some handmade prototypes or printing some small assets for an expansion to a game you like, using a company like The Game Crafter is a great way to step up your designs and create some really beautiful production quality copies of your game.
by Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator
These bubble blowers are a BLAST and can be made with upcycled items easily found at home! This craft is perfect for Earth Day week. What else could you upcycle to make into something new and fun?!
- Plastic bottle
- You can use a plastic cup as well
- Piece of a mesh vegetable bag
- Duct tape
- Bubble solution (store bought or DIY)
- Find a plastic bottle for each bubble blower
- Cut off the non-drinking-end of the plastic bottle
- Cutting about an inch off the end is plenty
- If using a plastic cup - cut a small opening on the bottom of the cup. This will be the spot where little ones put their mouths to blow their bubbles.
- Fit your piece of mesh vegetable bag over the cut end of your plastic bottle and secure to the bottle using duct tape
- If using a plastic cup, put the mesh over the wide end of the cup (where you would normally drink!)
- Put some bubble solution inside a container
- To make your own you will need:
- 1 cup water
- 2 Tbsp light corn starch
- 4 Tbsp dish soap
- Mix all ingredients together!
- There are a lot of recipes for bubble solution - I used this one because I had these materials at home!
- To make your own you will need:
- Invite bubble blowers to dip their plastic bottles into the bubble solution and then try blowing bubbles!
- Big bubble snakes will appear!
Thank you to our Earth Day week sponsor, D. F. Richard!
By Colie Haahr, CMNH Educator
This is an active game, but can be done with no running, indoors or outdoors!
Kids love hiding things and finding things, so this is a game that can last for quite a long time, and can be played with just two people or more.
Set up: First, have each player create a snake. You can use pipe cleaners and beads to make a pattern snake. If you do not have materials available to make a pipe cleaner snake, you can color a snake instead by drawing a snake, having your child draw a snake, or using a template.
Game play: Once everyone has decorated or put together a snake, take turns hiding and finding them. There are a few different ways to do this. If younger kids are playing with older kids, a variation that works well is to have a grown up hide all of the snakes, and kids can search for and find only their own snake. This makes the game more fair in that one person will not find all of the snakes right away.
- Use your own house rules for hide and seek: this usually includes no peeking while someone is hiding or hiding items!
Add to the fun: have a “pattern pageant” with a grown up as the judge. Inspect the patterns, ask kids to come up with hidden talents for their snakes, and choose a snake as the winner. Maybe it’s the snake that would blend in best in the natural world, the one with the best pattern, or the child who didn’t do so well in the hide and seek game ;)
Talk about why animals have patterns in nature. Usually, this is to send a message to other creatures, such as “I’m dangerous!,” or to help the animal blend in to stay safe from predators. Some animals have patterns that mimic other things, allowing the animal to appear larger than it really is, or blend in with a different group of animals. Elementary aged kids could do some independent research to see who can find the animal with the best camouflage!
Try this printable paper chain python activity:
If you do not have a printer you can make a paper chain by simply cutting up strips of construction paper or copy paper.
Try this printable spiral snake:
Kids can color it in, but may need help from a grown up to cut it out. These would be neat to hang from the ceiling once completed!
This is a very similar activity, but involves finger painting the snake to create a pattern:
You could also make a pattern like this using the CMNH Wacky Art bubble wrap painting method.