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Design Your Destiny: Running Out of Time

This is rather ambitious project by Jay Cornier and Blaise Sewell: a children's story book that incorporates board games within it that children are encouraged to play, discuss and modify. In effect, it's a board game design tutorial dressed within an engrossing science fiction story.

We won't go into too much detail because we don't want to give away any spoilers but the sci-fi story involves two children on a hunt for the missing components of a time machine. Players (ideally two, but the game can also be played solo) are rewarded with stickers for completing the board game-related tasks.

Design Your Destiny comes with various components to be used as game pieces but the spiral-bound book itself incorporates playing boards as you progress through the story. As an example, the very first game involves a simple roll & move race/chase game; in effect, a Snakes & Ladders variant. In the prompts for the post-game discussion, it's pointed out to players that they had no decisions to make during the game: they simply moved according to the roll of a d6 and the game's basic movement rules. Design Your Destiny then invites the player(s) to come up with their own variants. There are ample prompts for what elements might be changed but the central idea is to trigger player discussion and consideration of options and how these might impact on play and on enjoyment of the game. Design Your Destiny also introduces the notion of playtesting; taking a much more scientific method to recording and analysing playtests, steering youngsters away from the more hit and miss approach they might otherwise take.

Subsequent games introduce more player agency but sometimes, deliberately, at the expense of balance or with more flaws for players to spot and improve upon through debate, modification and playtesting.

Tho' the Running Out of Time story and games are aimed squarely at children from 8+, adolescents and adults will also find much here to enjoy and consider. And publishers Fail Faster include links to their online Game Design Program for anyone interested in taking further steps in board game design.

Shown here on Board's Eye View is a preview prototype of Design Your Destiny: Running Out of Time ahead of its Kickstarter launch on 12 September. Click here to sign up for a notification when the KS goes live. If you've a child who enjoys playing board games, Design Your Destiny: Running Out of Time could be just the thing for further stimulating their interest and helping them to think about and develop their own ideas for board game design. Oh, and the sci-fi story is fun too.

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