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The Great Gatsby

2 replies [Last post]
Joined: 05/16/2009

Hello, I've been assign project where I have four project options dealing with Fitzgerald's book, The Great Gatsby. One of options was making a board game. The only idea I can think of right now is a Trivia based board game. I really don't want to do a Trivia based games. It's probably the most overdone of the board games in this project. So I wanted to do something slightly more original.

I thought of another idea hat might work. Life. The"Start College" option would be Old Money. While the "Start Career" option would be New Money. Then the 2 places at the end, Countryside acres and Millionare estates. One would be East Egg and the other would be West Egg.

That's all I have so far. So help will be appriciated. I see this forum is kind of inactive. I'm going to check for other sites too that could help.

tdishman's picture
Joined: 08/05/2008
It's been a while...

It has been atleast a decade since I last read TGG, but I think I remember enough to offer some ideas.

What if the game were about throwing parties, with you and your opponent vying to lure the best guests. Each potential guest could be worth so many "social points". The winner is the one who is able to host the party worth the most "social points". There are many creative ways to approach this, so I won't offer any further details.

If I recall, the protagonist in TGG was not a huge fan of the social scene, but nonetheless the high-society night life played a large role in the setting and plot of the book.

ilta's picture
Joined: 12/05/2008
I'm sure you could easily

I'm sure you could easily re-theme The Game of Life for the purposes of a school project (or, indeed, for just about any narrative story) but if you're actually interested in developing a game that might be fun to play outside of English class you're going to need to do a bit more thinking.

To put it another way: you rightly recognized trivia games as overdone within your particular class. Unfortunately, you then jumped on the only game type that's MORE overdone, generally speaking: the roll-and-move. The Game of Life is a perfect example: there are essentially no decisions for players to make (besides going to college at the beginning); the rest of the gameplay is rolling a die (or spinning a wheel), moving your pawn, and resolving an event based on the square you land on. Other popular roll-and-move games include Monopoly, Candyland, and Chutes and Ladders. All of these games have about the same level of strategy, which is to say none. Monopoly and TGoL manage to dress themselves up a bit, but their beating hearts are the same tired roll-and-move mechanic as the others.

Don't feel bad about it -- this is the path that pretty much every game designer (including me) has walked at some point. Part of the fun is realizing that there's more to board game design than Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly clones.

Equally true is that the work it takes to develop more original gameplay may not be possible, or worthwhile, within the confines of your class.As I said, if you opt to do a retheme of an existing game, then that's probably pretty much the assignment right there, and I doubt you'd need us to help you make straight-out substitutions anyway.

But if you're interested in developing something more nuanced, you should first think about your goals for the project (and the grading criteria). These will steer you towards basic design decisions.

For instance, do you want to retell the narrative of the story, either with the characters in the book or with player-created characters? If so, a more regimented roll-and-move structure will serve you, as it's easy to place "events" on the board, which will be "activated" in the same order as the story. The gameplay itself probably won't be significantly more enlightening than reading the book, but it will be easy to show off your knowledge of its events and structure.

Or, do you want to cause players to make similar choices and compromises as the characters, but without specifically presenting them with the dilemmas in the book? Similarly, perhaps you wish to present them with a wider variety of events than those in the story, or you don't want them to know which events appear in which order. A card game can work well here, as it allows you to fill the deck with events and choices. The consequences of these choices, how much the players know ahead of time, and the "win conditions" are all up to you to determine.

Do you want to capture a specific element or theme from the book such as old money vs. new money, parties, or deception in social situations? Certain mechanics lend themselves well here, such as bluffing or set-building (who can assemble the nicest collection of stuff/people). Giving players variable "powers" depending on whether they are old money or new money is also an interesting way to twist things, which you've already realized by seeing it as the one choice to make in your TGoL re-theme. Just for example's sake, perhaps Old Money players can draw two cards instead of one, owing to their connections, while New Money players can have a larger hand size, owing to their generally more dynamic personalities. Obviously there are much more interesting powers to give players, but this is to give you the basic idea.

Other elements and themes from TGG that I remember from 11th grade English:
- bootlegging (a game could be based on setting up efficient routes, fooling/bribing authorities, transporting alcohol across state lines, etc)
- a secret past (a deduction game to determine which player is the nouveau riche fraud, or perahsp who is secretly in love with whom)
- a competition for love
- dinner parties, as was already mentioned

Anyway, as I said, your first choice is whether you want to put in the work of developing a game itself, rather than simply retheming an existing game. Even if you already know that you want to do a retheme, perhaps there's another game out there that could be more fun to play than TGoL, or more applicable to the story of the book. I would recommend, of course, the IMDB of board games, BoardGameGeek: . It has pretty much every game ever made, including The Game of Life and all those wonderful Euros I was talking about. Check out reviews for gameplay breakdowns, and also note that each game has some "Mechanics" listed at the top of the entry; click on those for other games that share the same gameplay elements.

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