Do Games Have a Place in Makerspaces? It Depends…

Pieces on a game board

I see students playing board games in makerspaces pretty frequently. Personally, I love board games. In fact, my husband and I have such an extensive collection that we’ve run out of places to store them. Board games foster critical thinking and are a great way to interact with other human beings face-to-face. Not only that, but they’re fun!

The question is…are they really appropriate makerspace activities? The whole point of a makerspace is for students to explore and create, and they’re not necessarily doing that if they’re just playing board games for fun. 

I think there is a happy middle ground when it comes to incorporating games in makerspaces. Take gameplay to the next level by having students use what’s available in the makerspace to MAKE their own.

The Process

Study

Give students time to play and interact with board games you have on hand. Let them know that the expectation is that they’re studying them to learn about rules, board design, and game play experience.

Plan

Have the students collaborate and plan out their games by answering the following questions together:

  • What is the game objective and story line?
  • How many players can play at a time?
  • How do players move around the board?
  • What are the rules?
  • What would the board look like?
  • What pieces would we need?
  • How can we make it challenging but fun?

Here’s a planning sheet they can use. Feel free to adjust it as needed.

Create

Once they’ve planned it all out, set them loose to actually make it. Simple, cheap materials are all they need to start creating. Here are some ideas of supplies they could use for each element of the game:

Gameboard

  • Cardboard
  • Pizza boxes
  • Construction paper
  • Poster board

Game pieces

  • Bottle caps
  • Army men
  • Buttons
  • Beads
  • Pieces of cardboard
  • Paper cutouts

Decorations

  • Markers and colored pencils
  • String
  • Glitter (if you’re brave enough)
  • Glue
  • Pictures from old magazines
  • Old costume jewelry

Playtest

Did you know play testing is a thing? Before games hit the market, designers invite players to test their games and give feedback about the experience. 

Let other students that visit the library or makerspace be the play testers. Have the game creators make a survey to get feedback about their game. Questions might include:

  • What did you like about the game?
  • What didn’t you like?
  • Were there any rules you found confusing?
  • Do you have any suggestions for improving the game?

This can be done on paper or, if you have the tech available, have them scan a QR code or use a shortened URL to get to a Google Form. Then, the game creators can use the feedback to improve their games.

Here’s a template they can use. Again, feel free to adjust as needed.

Once the games are playtested and finished, leave them in the makerspace as examples for other students to study as they work to design and create their own.

I know. I know. The end result is that students end up playing games in your makerspace. Like I said… IT DEPENDS!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *