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Developing our game design (Part 3 of 5)


Social Studies, History, Art


Middle School, 6-8
High School, 9-12

Time required

45 minutes

Materials required

  • Plain paper
  • Markers or colored pencils
  • Scissors
  • Glue and tape
  • Construction paper

Related background reading


Related documents

Paper play-test of “Trivial Pursuit

Related links

Lesson Plan


With this lesson students learn to create paper play-tests to try out their game ideas.


  • Students will define their game, by providing more definitive parameters, rules, and elements.
  • Students will learn how paper play-tests are used.
  • Students will begin creating their own paper play-tests.

Questions or Assessment

  • What are paper play-tests?
  • How are they used?
  • How can we use paper play-tests to inform the design of our Guam history game?


Teacher prep
Paper play-test of a popular game (e.g. “Trivial Pursuit”), as explained below.

Sketching Down Game Ideas (12 minutes)

  1. Have students write a description of their game (i.e. in the manner one may read a game description on the back of a box in a store).
  2. Have students write down some basic rules and parameters for their game:
    • What is the goal of the game?
    • How does one achieve the goal? (points? finish line? other?)
    • Who plays the game?
    • Where is the game played?
    • What elements are in your game?
    • How does the game teach Guam history?

Introduction to Paper Play-Tests (20 minutes)

  1. Explain that games are tested many times before they are completed and sold. To test the playability of these games, game designers will create “paper play-tests.” This paper play-test is a sketch (think of it as a “rough draft”) of a game. People play this game, game designers observe the play, and the design is changed according to the feedback.
  2. Using the paper play-test of Trivial Pursuit, have the students play an example of a paper play-test game:
    • Have students volunteer to play the game with exaggerated rules (e.g. there is only one question square on the entire board; or, there is only 3 trivia cards in total).
    • Have the rest of the class observe and take notes.
    • Ask the class what they observed.
    • Write these responses on the board:
      • “It was boring because the board had only one question square.”
      • “It was easy because the questions repeated.”
    • Ask the class to suggest changes:
      • Add more question squares
      • Add more trivia cards
    • Have the student volunteers play the game with the new rules.
    • Ask the class to observe and take notes.
  3. Ask the class to describe how the paper play-test improved with the second iteration.
  4. Explain to students that they will be doing similar paper play-tests to test their game ideas.

Starting Individual Paper Play-Tests (10 minutes)

  1. Pass out or have students gather art materials, as needed.
  2. Have students begin sketching out their game designs.
  3. Inform students that they should complete their paper play-tests as homework, and that they will be played in the next class.
  4. Remind students of the resources they can use to inform the incorporation of Guam history into their games. If time allows, list these resources on the board.

Recap (3 minutes)
Recap what we’ve done and learned in the lesson:

“We’ve learned how games are tested and adjusted. The paper play-test is an extremely useful tool, and we’ll be using it to inform our own game design. Now, finish up your paper play-tests for the next class, because we’ll be playing each others’ games.”

Ask students for their favorite parts of the lesson.