Last week I had at the awesome opportunity to participate in the first GameSmash Tabletop Game Design and Fabrication Challenge at the Fat Cat Fab Lab in New York City. Hosted by MakerOS and Ultimaker, groups of designers were challenged to create a brand new board game from scratch. The games had to be based around the idea of “Bed-time stories”, be playable in a short amount of time and include 3D printing components.
With only 48 hours to complete the games, teams of game designers raced against the clock to conceptualize, prototype, playtest and iterate on their designs. To meet the challenging deadline set, teams had access to all the tools and materials the fab lab provides. These include multiple 3D printers (provided by Ultimaker), a laser cutter, a wood shop and a table full of cards and paper.
By working in small groups to quickly iterate a game concept, we could quickly move through prototypes to a final game product. Without the support of the group or the access to technology, this would be much more difficult. Getting together with a group of like-minded game designers gave us the ability to share feedback and test hypothesizes around game mechanics and figure out how to use digital manufacturing process to create unique game pieces.
With a hard deadline fast approaching, the massive advantage that 3D printing provides quickly became clear: Using 3D printing game designers could prototype very advanced mechanics quickly and with ease. “Greener Pastures” included a fully functional catapult. Landfall Saga had modular shapes to control the fall of ball bearings. These ideas simply couldn’t have been executed this quickly without 3D printing.
Finally, every group was given Shapeways credit to make a final version of their models to be playtested again at the 20 Sided Store in Brooklyn and displayed at the Ultimaker exhibit space at Maker Faire in early October. Through quick iteration in a group of creative game designers, each game can grow and potentially be shared via a Shapeways shop or Kickstarter project.