Saturday, September 17, 2016

Game Design Exploration 2 - Love Letter

Several months ago I created a game design exploration that required students to redesign a simple game so it fit a topic they were studying. I'm now working on several Game Design Project Packs that include games of different types.

While most of these Project Packs will use simple games I created myself, this second installment uses a very popular new game called Love Letter. I do have permission from the publisher (Alderac Entertainment Group) to use the game this way.

For this first part of the game design exploration, students would learn how to play Love Letter and they'd play a few rounds.

The General Idea of the Project

You will want to know the overall flow of the activity. You can see my previous exploration as an example, or this short outline should suffice.

  • Students study some topic in class. It could be anything really, but these activities lend themselves to people and events. Language arts and social studies classes are a good fit. Some of this part can happen concurrently with the following stages.
  • Students learn and play a simple game.
  • Using a planning sheet, they will apply a theme and possibly some new rules to that game so it fits the topic they're studying.
  • Depending on how much time you want them to spend on this project, you can follow up with some playtesting and further development.
  • A reflection sheet allows students to think deeply about the course topic and game design in general.
  • Further resources are available for students who want to dig deeper and possibly print a quality copy of their game.

Getting a Copy of the Game

Like all the games in these projects, Love Letter uses few components and it can be played in about 15 - 30 minutes. In fact, the entire game has only 16 cards in it! (It's in a genre of modern games known as micro-games.)

I strongly encourage teachers to buy a copy of the game for students to play. The original Love Letter has spawned several different variations including a Batman and a Hobbit version. All are essentially the same and any would work for this project.  Here's one link to the original version for less than $10. (Just don't mistakenly get one of the more expensive, harder to find early editions of the game.)

I do have a template (linked below) to the basic cards. Students will use that template in Part 2 of this exploration, but it would be possible to play the game by printing that template on card stock.

How to Play

Here is a video I created (with some help from my wife for narration) that shows how to play the game. You could show this in class or just watch it yourself and explain the game to the students. All the rules take less than two minutes to explain.

If you want to read the full rules, here is a PDF from the publisher.

Playing the Game

I recommend for this activity that the students only play the game enough to get the general idea. They don't have to play a full game, as described in the video. A few rounds should be sufficient.

As I mentioned above, I did make this template so students can modify the game in the second part of this activity. If you want to use this to make a very plain (and boring!) version of the game to use in class, you could print it on card stock and cut out the cards. (More information will be given later for ways students can make prototypes of their game without using card stock.)


See the second part of the activity here. In it, students explore underlying concepts and elements of your lesson topic by adding a new theme to Love Letter.

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