Brussels

Brussels, part 2 – workshopping hard

My week in Brussels was insanely intense. I described the first workshop more than a week ago, so it’s time to tell you more about the remaining workshops.

Wednesday 24th – HEB Defré “Game science and technics”

Like most of the workshops given this week, this one was given during the evening. It took place in the Games library of a school in Uccel, in the suburbean-like area of Brussels. Every wednesday, the Game library is open to public, so some people coming every week or so have heard of the workshop and came to create a game.

But most of the attendees were students in a 1 year game technics cursus. They want to be able to use games in their job, create games, open public game librairies or board game cafes, but whatever their final goal might be, they were really looking forward to create a prototype.

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Of course, this very particular context pressurized me a bit. Those people are going to be professionals in the field of game (when they are not already), they have a large game culture and game design exigence. This workshop was actually a course !

But fortunately, everything went smoothly. I brought 2 sets of Mechanicards, as well as 2 Dobble and 2 Zombie dice games, so the workshop could take place with 2 groups. Each group played Dobble, then analyzed it, then added some Bluff, then the same operation was repeated with Zombie dice (and Cubes instead of Bluff). Once everybody finished an analysis or a card inclusion, one group presented his work to the other to confront it.

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Mostly due to a large break time, I didn’t manage my timing proprely, so everybody had a minimum amount of time to create the actual prototypes – about 45mn after I gave cards and tips. So I had to make it up by defining the remaining time precisely : each group had 20mn to brainstorm, 20mn to create a prototype and then 5mn to switch tables so other people could test their game. The theme was “Harpist”.

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This was quite an interesting exercise tho. Instead of creating a whole game, the workshop attendees had to create a small gameplay element.

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The games may be reworked afterwards during the formation, which makes the workshop more useful !

 

Thursday 25th – La Table – Food & Games

For starters, La Table is an amazing place. The title says it all : La Table Food & Games is a restaurant fully packed with very diverse board gams, so you can come, have a drink, eat something, play, meet new players, mix everything and have fun. Sounds great ? It is.

The workshop started with 5 people and ended up with 2 people once the actual game creation part started. However, this wasn’t a problem at all. The 5 attendees were regular players, so the analysis & rules addition part was done in a breeze.

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As for the game creation itself, I gave the theme “Shadow play”. The cards were “Board”, “Material placement” and the dreadful “General knowledge”, which was quickly cast away by the attendees !

We had enough time to test the prototype 2 times. The second time, I played myself with another player not involved in the prototyping session. Our game lasted 30mn and was quite exciting. I really think this game can lead to something interesting.

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It consists of a symetrical squared board with larger squares inside. Each player starts with 3 pawns on one side of the board. There is also a “Sun” on the middle of the board. Each player plays turn by turn. A turn consists of 2 actions :

– Moving a pawn (if it’s possible);

– Moving the Sun (not mandatory).

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You can move the sun on any side or corner of the board. Sun cast shades : when comes the time to move a pawn, you can’t do it if the pawn is in the “shade” of another pawn. So if the sun is on the right side of the board, and my pawn is on the left of another pawn, I can’t move it.

This simple yet tricky concept is very satisfying to play and I’m very thrilled to see what emerged from this workshop.

 

Friday 26th (day) – Helmet institute – Schaerbeek

This workshop started at 8:30 am and finished at 3:20pm with several breaks in between. The breaks were mandatory because the workshop took place in a school with 23 children from 8 to 9 years old.

Yep.

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I couldn’t take much pictures of the workshop for right issues (you know… children). I was invited by the teacher, Bénédicte, and the children already played some games the weeks (and years) before, so felt somehow easy with games. Still, they were 8-9 years old, so I obviously had to set up a very special workshop, which was at the same time very exciting and very challenging.

We spent more time playing games, this time 3 of them : Dobble, Zombie Dice and Wink. We divided the room in 3 sets of tables so the children could play one game and then change table. Once they played every game, a guided session of game analysis took place with 3 sets of Mechanicards (I removed some hard cards before, such as “Narration”, “Draft”…). We helped them of course, but the results were quite interesting and accurate.

Of course, explaining why Zombie dice was a game using Calculations (“So, you have dices, and you can calculate the probabilit–wait…”) or what the hell is “Logic” was rather challenging, but at the same time interesting I guess.

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Afterwards, I gave each child a secret card, and their challenge was to trade it with another child if he didn’t like it. So basically, 23 children were running in a classroom with Mechanicards, saying “I want your Dice card, do you want my Cooperation card ?”. Fun.

We then noted whom child had which card, went to lunch break and created not-so-random groups of 3 children. Then the creation started.

I didn’t even try to tell them not to take too much care of the visual of their game as it’s so very, very satisfying to create something fancy when you are 8 years old. For the first part of the prototyping session, we asked the children not to take any game material (except paper and pens) so they could focus on brainstorming (!). They struggled a bit in the beginning, but after we guided them a bit, they were ready to go.

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I couldn’t focus enough to remember precisely all the games they created. So, yeah, most of them created Snake and ladders games or variations of Memory games for what it matters. However, some very interesting ideas came out when we tried to ask them questions such as “so, how do you play your game ?”. We had some time to have them test games created by other children, so they had to explain games to other children, which was quite difficult… and instructive.

This workshop changed the way I’m seeing the Mechanicards method. I think the approch has a lot of hidden potential I absolutely didn’t have in mind when I created them, and I’m very happy to see that they can be used in such an educative way. I’m looking forward to see how they are going to be used by the structures to which I leave a set of cards.

 

Friday 26th (evening) – Let’s play together

Remember Let’s play together ? This awesome association, organizing various events around Brusseld based on board games, asked me to do a “VIP workshop” during the evening. As I’m leaving a set of cards to them, we took some time to analyze the tool and see what could be improved.

The workshop itself was quite shorter, but as most people here were already familiar with Game design, the concepts created were quite interesting. The theme, given by somebody on Facebook (follow the page if you want to propose another theme later on !), was “Atoms”.

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The first game created was based on atoms crafting. Each player starts with several random atoms, and the goal of the game is to create a precise chemical formula (HBrCl). Each turn, a player can activate his first or last atom to make it interact with another atom in the middle or possessed by another player.

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The interactions between atoms is defined by an interaction grid. Due to the lack of time, we couldn’t test it enough times to simplify it a bit, so it was quite experimental.

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The second game was based on memorization. You have to create an atom balanced between positive charges, negative charges and neutrinos. There’s a 3 pile of cards (protons, electrons, neutrinos), you can see each pile one time at the beginning of the game, then you have to memorize them. One pile is set on the middle and people have to bet points to define the card picking order.

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Greetings from Brussels – first workshop abroad

(English below)

Et cette fois, l’article sera en anglais ! Il faut bien varier les plaisirs… Pour résumer,  le premier atelier à Bruxelles s’est bien déroulé et tout le monde était heureux. Traduction à venir… plus tard.

I spent one week travelling in various places. The idea was to both take a break and meet people, both friends and people involved in games. It was quite fruitful : I met Francine and Nicolas from the Compagnie Caracol, working on games mostly connected to cities patrimoine, as well as Sylvain, working on a cooperative game based on superheroes, and Léo, an old friend of mine working on Honey rush, a game starring bees.

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Bees. Bees everyhere.

 

And then I crossed the border.

Hello Brussels, hello... Lady gaga stage ?

Hello Brussels, hello… Lady gaga stage ?

This week, I work with the association Let’s play together. Based in Bruxelles, they organize several events around board games such as game evenings, conferences and so on. So they invited me to come and set up several workshops with various people.

The first workshop took place in the Flamingo bar. 4 people were here, creating games around beers. I used the new workshop version developped in Besançon : they played and analyzed Dobble and Zombie dice, added new mechanics then started to create their own prototype.

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Everything went really smoothly. They picked the cards “Logic”, “Draft” and “Cubes” and I chosed the theme “Cactus”. They ended up creating a prototype and even testing it for a while. I was curious how a 4 people workshop could take work, but I ended up being pleasently surprised !

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This is a game about water, cactus and drugs. Each player has to find drug cubes while digging in the desert. They move their pawn, roll a dice and pick as much items in a bag as the dice shew. In a bag, there is water, sand, drug and scorpios. Picking sand doesn’t serve any purpose, scorpios stop your picking operation, drug is the winning item (5 durg cubes = winning) and water allow you to move further. Each move costs you 1 water, digging also costs 1 water, each time you consume water you put it again in the bag. There’s also another bag you can only access if you dig on a cactus. Digging on a cactus uses 2 water. Also, there’s a maya temple warping you back home but granting you an extra dice roll.

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What’s next ?

The next workshop will take place thursday evening in the Table food and games restaurant, rue de l’enseignement. Feel free to come !

(Actually, another one will take place today evening, but it’s quite crowded already !!)

Next steps : Chalon, Lille and Brussels

(Français ci-dessous)

Before continuing the report of the latest workshops in Besançon (and translating the first part...), I’d like to share with you my schedule for the 2 incoming weeks. If some of you know people potentially interested by board games, could it be playing or creating, around the places I’m reaching, feel free to share this article with them.

And if you, dear reader, would like to attend an extra workshop, play with me or simply share a coffee with me, just contact me 😉

15th – Stopping near Chalon sur Saône

Near my dear village of Saint-remy les chevreuse passes a small river named the Yvette. Passing through various cities and landscapes, this river is full of hidden meanings and local historical events. So an association named Animakt decided to create a game about the river, and this game is going to be designed by Francine and Nicolas, living near Chalon sur Saône.

That’s why, despite the fact that Chalon isn’t exactly on my way to Brussels, I’m going to stop there for one or two days : to meet fellow designers and exchange thoughts about life, games and rivers. I’m planning to leave on tuesday but I’m quite flexible, so get in touch with me if you are in the surroundings !

17th – 21st : Boulogne sur mer, Amiens, Lille

One of the best part about travelling in one’s home country is that you have high chances to travel near the new living place of old friends. This is the case with Amiens, Boulogne sur mer and Lille where I wanna meet various friends. Those 3 cities are not far away, so I don’t have any particular order in mind – I just want to be in Lille the 21st to be ready to reach Brussels.

Tho I’m not sure about Amiens and Boulogne, Lille happens to be a great place when it comes to board games. The festival Ludi nord takes place there every year, and various board games authors and editors live or work around here. I hope to meet some people, and maybe set up an improvized workshop at some point.

22nd – 28th : Brussels

Serious business starts again. Brussels is my second major stop for workshops and several will take place in the city during the week. I’m not sure yet where and when, but be sure you guys will be informed as soon as I have more information.

The workshops will be in association with Let’s play together, a group animating various activities connected to games in various places in Belgium. They do a lot of amazing stuff so feel free to spread the word about those 🙂

Avant de continuer la description des ateliers sur Besancon, je voudrais partager avec mon emploi du temps des deux semaines à venir. Si certains d’entre vous connaissent des gens intéressés pour créer ou jouer à des jeux de société, n’hésitez pas à faire passer le message.

Quant à vous chers lecteurs, si vous souhaitez jouer avec moi, participer à un atelier en petit comité ou bien simplement partager un café n’hésitez pas à me contacter 😉

15th – Stopping near Chalon sur Saône

Près du village de Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse où j’habite passe une petite rivière nommée l’Yvette. Serpentant au travers de plusieurs villes et de paysages variés, cette rivière est pleine de significations et connectée à différents événements historiques locaux. Par conséquent, une association nommé Animakt a décidé de créer un jeu autour de la rivière, et ce jeu on va être conçu par Francine Nicolas, habitant près de Chalon-sur-Saône.

C’est pourquoi, bien que Chalon-sur-Saône ne soit pas exactement sur la route pour Bruxelles, je vais m’arrêter là bas pour un ou deux jours. L’objectif est de rencontrer Francine et Nicolas et de discuter avec eux de jeux, de rivières et de la vie en général. Je prévois de quitter Chalon le mardi mais je suis très flexible, donc n’hésitez pas à me contacter si vous êtes dans les environs !

17th – 21st : Boulogne sur mer, Amiens, Lille

Une des plus grands avantages du voyage dans son pays natal est de pouvoir passer chez de vieux amis ayant déménagé et se trouvant comme par enchantement sur notre route. C’est le cas pour les villes d’Amiens, Boulogne-sur-Mer et Lille où je vais rencontrer divers amis. Comme ces trois ville s ne sont pas très éloignées, je n’ai pas encore d’itinéraire précis – je souhaite juste être à Lille le 21 pour être prêt à atteindre Bruxelles.

Je ne sais pas pour Amiens et Boulogne, mais Lille se trouve être une place intéressante en ce qui concerne les jeux de société. Le festival Ludinord se tient ici tous les ans et de nombreux éditeurs et auteurs de jeux de société sont basées ou bien travaillent dans les environs. J’espère rencontrer diverses personnes et peut-être créer un atelier improvisé durant mon séjour à Lille.

22nd – 28th : Brussels

Et c’est reparti pour un tour ! Bruxelles est mon deuxième arrêt majeur dans le voyage et une série d’ateliers aura lieu dans la ville pendant la semaine. Je ne sais pas encore avec précision où et quand, mais soyez sûr que je vous tiendrai au courant dès que je possède plus d’informations.

Les ateliers seront proposés en partenariat avec avec Let’s play together, une association animant différentes activités autour des jeux dans différents lieux autour de la Belgique, particulièrement Bruxelles. Ils font une tonne de choses très intéressantes, alors n’hésitez pas à jeter un coup d’oeil à leur site internet 🙂

D-35 : what’s going on before the departure

It’s been a while since I didn’t post some news about the project so far, even if the departure day is getting closer and closer. A little bit more than 1 month before the first trip, I may have some things to settle down, but there has been a lot of exciting news.

Let’s do a little recap.

 

Workshop presentation

The workshops lacked a short and clear presentation (nobody likes Walls of text). Here it is.

Feel free to use and share it to any structure which could be interested by such workshops ! 🙂

FlyersPrezProjetEN

 

Translated Mechanicards

Remember the Mechanicards, those little cards describing board games mechanisms, skills and material ? Well, they are finally translated in English, so people from all around the world will be able to use them.

Feel free to use them as they are on Creative Commons Attribution. You just have to somehow mention me at some point, at least by highlighting the link to my website on the bottom of the cards !

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I will put them more clearly on my porfolio as soon as possible, but so far you can download the PDF here.

 

Schedule scramble

The two first months of the project are going to be everything but what I initially planned.

* I’m starting my trip the 2nd of September. My first destination is Auxerre, where a workshop will take place the 3rd.

* Instead of reaching Besançon the 1st of September, I’ll be there the 6th to launch the project at the CRIJ. Then workshops will take place several times during the following week in different places (more information later on the post).

* I will most likely spend some days in Lille after Besançon.

* My next stop is Brussels from the 22nd of September for 1 week. Yes, Brussels – which means I’ll actually travel to 10 countries now. I couldn’t find any structure in Mulhouse unfortunately.

* Then I’ll travel to Munich to be up and ready the 6th of October.

* Finally, I’m going to the Essen spiel festival from the 16th to the 19th of October.

 

Confused ? Maybe a couple of screenshots will help you then !

 

Week1Planning  Week2Planning

 

Besançon workshops

So far, 3 workshops will take place around Besançon. I’m still looking for more (with a huge help from my friend there, Evelyne, who pretty much contacted the whole city – which for I can’t thank her enough), but for now, here are the workshops :

* Tuesday & Friday evening with the board games association Doubs you play. They are usually playing games thoses evenings, but they kindly accepted that I animate workshops at the same time. They are located here.

* Saturday, I’m going to animate a full workshop (playing then creating) at the “Maison de quartier” Montrapon, a place for young people to come and do… fun things.

 

Lots of board games material

Toutpourlejeu, an awesome company selling board game material, kindly accepted to sponsor the project ! So a pack full of board games material is coming in a few days. I’ll keep you informed (these guys totally deserve a full article).

However, I also bought some extra material on Spielmaterial to be able to do some workshops as soon as possible.

MatosLV

Holidays

Ok, that’s not really related to the project, but I’m going in holidays for most of August ! So I’ll try my best to leave you some scheduled articles beforehand to keep you hyped 😉