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Monday, September 19, 2016

Game Design Exploration 2 - Adding a New Theme to Love Letter

This is the second part of my game design exploration based on the game Love Letter*. Be sure you and your students are familiar with Part 1 before you work through the activity below.

In this second step, students will add a new theme to the simple, fun game Love Letter. The theme will be based on a topic you are studying in class. This will work best in a language arts or social studies class, but you could definitely use it in other classes too.

In applying the theme, students will discuss people, events and other elements of your course content.


What Is Theme in a Game?

Theme is what the game is about. Not all games have a strong theme, but many popular ones do. The theme of Risk is world conquest. The theme of Monopoly is making money in real estate.

If you're familiar with the original Love Letter, that theme was to deliver a love letter to the Princess.

See Part 2 of my first game design exploration for more examples of theme in games.

Examples of variations on the Love Letter game

Love Letter has been such a popular game across the world that it already has some new themes and other variations based on it. Here are a few you could show students in class. You can click on some of the images on the pages below to see the similarities and differences between versions:


Adding a New Theme to Love Letter

After discussing themes in games and looking at the different versions of Love Letter, it's time for students to add a new theme to the game. The theme will be based on the lesson topic they've studied in class. 

The special Game Design Planning Sheet linked below will guide them through the process. Here are some things to keep in mind before assigning the planning sheet:
  • The students will choose a theme that's related to your topic. The lesson might be about a book they just read, like The Odyssey, or maybe it will be about a historical event like The War of 1812. While they could use those entire topics as the theme, they also could choose a specific part of those topics. For example, they might focus on a climatic scene of the book or a particularly interesting battle of the war.
  • The planning sheet will require them to name each card as something from their theme and to rename the tokens. Though not necessarily required, the sheet also suggests they make other changes to the effects and rules.
  • The document has a link to the components for a very basic template of Love Letter cards. If students click it, they will get a copy of it as a Google Slides file. They can type their changes onto the cards (and they will print them in a later stage of the game).
  • There are optional ideas listed on the second page of the planning sheet for students who want to explore game design further. Use them as appropriate for the age of your students and the needs of this project.

In the next stage, we will look at how to make a playable copy of the new version of Love Letter. We'll also present some options for testing the games in class.

*Love Letter was designed by Seiji Kanai and published by Alderac Entertainment Group. I have permission from the publisher to use their game as I have in this exploration. Please consider supporting them by buying a copy of the game that your students can play as they learn the basic rules.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this. In November, I'm hosting a game design merit badge workshop for Boy Scouts. I already planned to play both Love Letter and Batman Love Letter to demonstrate how theming changes the way people look at a game. I may have to pick up a copy of Lost Legacy too!

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