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Building games in Low Tech environment

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larienna
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Joined: 07/28/2008

HI

I am planning in a few years from now to move once and for all out of city, maybe where technology has not set it's foot. The problem is that my passion for games will never stop so I was wondering if it was possible to create game without technology. The answer is probably YES since the classic games like Chess, Cards, Go, Mah-Jong, comes from the middle age.

As I take a look back at these games, they were both games and work of art since they where almost all done by hand. If I move to an non-industrialised town, it could be possible to sell games made by hand since since all other works are also made by hand(some time assited with machines). The price generally reflect the time invested in the created product.

Making games in a low tech environment seems possible but the design of the game takes a hit. For example, you cannot make a CCG since you need to print easily multiple copies. Here is what I came up on which material and method to use to build many kind of known game components. Some material like plastic, cannot be used since it require chemical to melt the material.
Here is solutions found for each components.

Tokens:
For a game like risk where you need tokens to place on the map, I tought of using wood cubes or use metal which could be easily melt and shaped. There is also the glass perls which look like drops of glass. It can be used in games like GO. Paint could be use to color wood, while for glass drop the glass itself can be colored.

Chips and Money:
Since you cannot make paper money, I tought of making poker chips out of wood or metal. I have seen in my chinese store some fake metal money chip with a square hole in the middle. They could be perfect for a game. Wood can be painted but I also tought about burning it. I remember they sold some kind of kit with wood and a tool that looked like an electric soldering iron. It was used it to draw shapes by burning the surface of the wood.

Dice:
Same thing for dice, I think wood will be the best choice, Burning the wood to draw the numbers on them. mking six sided dice is easy but other dice shape can be a bit more complicated to do ( especially if you want them to be balanced). Varnishing them could be nice but I am not sure if varnish can be made of natural material. I know that they sometimes use wax or oil on furniture.

Player Pawn an Pieces:
For games like chess I could use modeling and sculpting materieal. Wood for sculpture and maybe clay and salt dough for modeling and sculpting the finishing touch.

Tiles and Board:
The best way to make rigid board would be painted or carved wood.

Map:
For flexible map, like in war games, I tought of painting the map on some fabric. Since most oil painting are drawn on flexible surface it should work. I am not sure if Oil painting can be made from natural material. Acryllic is defenitely synthetic, I don't think aquarel will work well on fabric and I don't know if gouache is synthetic too.

Instruction Books:
It seem weird to say, but instruction book did not exist because games where teached. It also mean that the rules had to be simple enough to memorise them. So making a game which has some reference tables seems out of the question . In know that in the 15th century they used print press to make books. What I am not sure is how they made the paper. Today they use chemical on wood but at that time they might be using other kind of papers. In the middle age, I think they use hardened fabric to make the pages of book used for hand writting.

Cards:
Playing cards and tarot deck existed a long time ago. I don't know which material they used to make them. For simple playing card, the print press should have been used. Making diffirent card suit seems easy by repeating heart or spades over an area. Printing unique text on each card will be a bit more difficult. For the figure cards, maybe they carved some plate and used them in the press. But this mean that multicolor figures are impossible unless they made multiple print of different plates onve over another.

So this is all that I could think of. If you have additional suggestion, comment, ideas or answers to my interrogation, don't mind sending them.

dete
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Building games in Low Tech environment

I like how when there is NO mass production abilities,
board games strengthen their roles as art work.
We have to draw,
we have to sculpt,
we have to come up with a game play
have a story
have characters
and make sure that all of this provides an EXPERIENCE.

we are like directors man!

Home made PRIDE ;)

seo
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Joined: 07/21/2008
Building games in Low Tech environment

I'm not sure where you place the limit for technology, but that will strongly affect your posibilities. Inks for printing and paint media, for instance, are one thing I think might be a problem if you plan to produce them from scratch.

You might be interested in temple painting (egg based paint, common in art before oil painting gained popularity) and silk screening, specially the ancient oriental techniques. Yuo should also study the japaneese wood engraving techniques, specially for color playing cards. They used an interesting approach: several irregular blocks of engraved wood fitting toghether like a puzzle after having been inked with their corresponding colors, printed at once. That allows for great color low tech printings while avoiding the registration issue.

Here you can find an interesting document on small scale paper production, with lots of info on the topic, mainly reffering to underdeveloped countries, but I guess most applies to your idea too. Lots of interesting links in the PDF.

I wouldn't discard rulebooks just like that. I remember the mother of a frined of mine, a teacher, who used to print copies of handwritten originals using a plate with gelatin. I did some googling for info on this printing method but had no luck, other than it being mentioned as being used by the resistence under the military dictatorship in Chile. I might ask my friend's mother about this technique if you are interested. You can also produce rulebooks with an old typing machine without the ink ribbon and a very thin sheet of paper. The machine will perforate the paper which you can then use as a stencil for mimeographic printing, or for an even lower tech printing option, silkscreen printing. I did this several times during the military dictatorship here in Uruguay, and while the results don't match offset printing, you can acheive results similar to those of a low quality photocopy. Good enough to be readable, at least. Carefully using an out of ink Bic pen you can also draw diagrams on this sort of stencil. Expect a range of 50-200 copies before the stencil gives up.

Seo

larienna
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Joined: 07/28/2008
Building games in Low Tech environment

Thanks for the document, looks interesting.

Quote:
I wouldn't discard rulebooks just like that. I remember the mother of a frined of mine, a teacher, who used to print copies of handwritten originals using a plate with gelatin

I think what you are talking about is an alchool reprography. We had this in school when I was around 10 years old ( I am now 28 ). I know that there was a bottle of alchool in the machine. You draw the original with a special pen on a plastic transparent sheet. Then you place the original sheet somewhere in the machine, place the paper at the entrance and rotate the handle to reproduce each copy. The result looked like if it was printed with pale blue ink.

Thanks for making me remember.

seo
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Joined: 07/21/2008
Building games in Low Tech environment

The one I saw was like some sort of jelly on a roasting pan, but I guess it was just a simplier verison of the machine you describe.

Seo

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