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Game About Women in History

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ngirlvip's picture
Joined: 02/09/2017


I am a Graphic Design student (I will graduate in June yey) and I love game design. For my thesis, I am trying to develop a game about women in history but I am kind of stuck in it.

My main goal is to represent women figures of our history (I would say worldwide) since, after some research, I found out that textbooks usually don't show any record to kids about them. I even realized that I only knew some women because of their appearance or because they had some relationship with a historical man. (I know there are few exceptions).

The thing is: I would like to avoid things such as "buying, stealing, selling, fighting" words and actions in a space where I am trying to show women and their achievements in our world. I also don't want to portrait men as "evil" since is a kids game and I just want them to know about those women and what we are capable of (like what kind of jobs we can do :D - we can go anywhere!)
A coop game could be interesting but HOOF it is so hard to design coop mechanics. I also don't want to make "here all the women" game and I don't really know how to relate women from very different times.

I am really stuck on the game design. I am not sure how to portrait them in a respectful and playful way.

I posted about my project in so many places (including BGG and Reddit) but still, I don't know what is going on hahaha (and I am pretty good at prototyping ideas fast - years attending gamejams and making analog games). Anyway, the awesome people that answered my topic gave me cool insights using some other games and mechanics as reference.

Anyway, some of my references are:
Sushi Go
7 Wonders
Sleeping Queens
Women in Science (this is my main reference and I really don't want to make something this plain or another version of cards that actually can serve as index cards) - you can play a digital version of the game here

My ideas are going around the players are "supporters" and they give "tools" to those women to get their achievements. Like megaphones for revolutionist, tech stuff for scientist etc. Aaand that is it, don't know where to go.

I am sorry if my post sounded confusing hahaha I think I am having a break down because is actually my final thesis and I want to make something really cool.

Thanks for your time :]

edit: I also accept any suggestion of games to play

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011

If you're intimidated by the prospect of making a new game from scratch, then I suggest you consider re-theming one of the games you list above. There are a handful of reasons for this:

- reduced time in the development cycle (you'll have quicker turnaround)
- you can start with the basic re-theme and if you really feel like it you can add in a twist or modification later
- you can select a game that's already age-appropriate for your intended audience, as opposed to testing and determining it as you go
- you have little to no commercial pressure (at least that you've explained here) so you won't need to deal with licensing issues for using a game that you know already works
- you can completely omit the presence of men in every single mechanic, so adversarial issues/critique can be avoided (at least in that dimension)

I think it would be very interesting to see a re-themed Splendor or even 7 Wonders. I'm sure you can find a way to encompass women in all of history, from all over the world, into one of those frameworks. What about Sushi Go! where each player is trying to outdo the others with world events and accomplishments, collecting sets of achievers of women in their respective disciplines?

You're right, Women in Science is rather plain. :) To be a bit more serious, I think it doesn't really do justice to the source material, although I think their goal was to simply make the cards and they built the game around that. I can understand the desire to make something more ambitious. But it seems like starting from whole cloth simply adds to your frustration level.

For additional inspiration (though using a different form of media) you may want to have a look at Feminist Frequency's "Ordinary Women" project, which aimed to highlight a diverse range of notable women. As opposed to the "broad, shallow" approach of the Women in Science card game, they opted for a smaller pool of subjects, but went into much more depth:

Best of success to you in this project! Personally think there are never too many games that can tackle worthwhile subjects, and addressing the lack of representation of women is a noble - and achievable - goal.

Supafrieke's picture
Joined: 02/22/2015
It's a real struggle to come

It's a real struggle to come up with a compelling co-op design idea that doesn't involve some kind of conflict within the game. The players usually need a motive to join forces in all except the most puzzle like , think Hanabi, of games.

The only suggestion I might add is "Timeline", but it's pretty dry theme-wise.

Of the influences you have shown, I really like the idea of re-designing 7 Wonders. In the first era, you might include basic contributions of single or groups of women that would act as the "resources" for later eras. Instead of Wood, Stone, Clay... you would have Literature, Leadership, Science, Exploration...

The second era might add some contributions but would also allow players to earn achievements.

The third era would primarily be using contributions to attain achievements.

So you might draft a few "Leadership" producers in the first era, that lets you draft "Suffragettes" in the second era which allows "Voting Rights" in the third era. Or with Science you might Draft Ada Lovelace in the second era which leads to Grace Hopper, or with Exploration, Amelia Earhart leading to Sally Ride.

There's lots of cross over, you just need to figure out a replacement for the military Strength mechanism which is where you would let lose with some design ideas. One thought is to deal each player a "goal" (target contribution level) before each era and based on how well they completed that goal vs their neighbors, they get a small bonus.

Call it "Women of Wonder".

ngirlvip's picture
Joined: 02/09/2017

Hey Guys!

Thanks for all the insights and I am sorry for my late response.

I've been work on this project and I got some thing to show to you and I wonder if you guys have more insights and suggestions for my actual mechanic (I may probably add some stuff Supafrieke suggested because I didn't see the reply before! Btw thanks again!)

I tried to re-theme some games such as Splendor, Machi Koro, 7 Wonders Duel and Sushi Go. I think Machi Koro mechanic fits the best for my purpose which is to let the women cards being exposed on the table and they generate Prestige to the players to gather more cards.

Brief resume:
Women in History is a game where the players have to use Prestige to collect Women Cards. Collecting Women Cards allows the players to gather more Prestige and unlock Achievement Cards. I am using elements from Machi Koro, Splendor and Monster Boss (the heroes pile) to create the mechanic for the game. My main goal is to always use positive actions in game (avoid steal, buy, etc) and let the cards being showing on the table (like Machi Koro and splendor) so the player can take a good look on the cards and their names and figures. I want the game to be positive in representing women. My audience is kids 10+.

The game has 4 "fields" which are:
Political = Square
Literature = Triangle
Science = Circle
Military = Diamond

How it works (needs changes):
Each player start with 2 Women Cards that generate Prestige by rolling a d4 with 4 symbols instead of numbers (Circle, Square, Diamond and Triangle).
If the player rolls:
Triangle: 1+ Prestige in your turn
Circle: 1+ Prestige if someone rolls Circle
Square: 1+ Prestige any turn (yours or other people)
Diamond: 1+ Prestige for ever Diamond in game in your turn

(I liked this mechanic of Machi Koro because something will always happen to you in your turn or in other people's turn)

Ok, so there will be 4 decks on the table (according to their symbol) and they are in order (there are some cards that needs less Prestige than others)

My idea, like in Machi Koro, it is to stack these cards. So, if I have 3 Triangles I will multiply the Effect by 3.

My problem is: how can I make it different from the other Triangles (since they are going to give me more Prestige and I will stack more and more)?
Some solutions:
- cards only needs more Prestige to be activate but still give the same amount of Prestige when roll the die
- Add another die (I don't know how since I am using symbols and give more chances and combinations and I don't want that)

Besides the Women Cards we are going to have Achievement Cards. An Example:
Achievement> Suffrage: Movement that helped women to conquer their right to vote. You can add +1 Prestige to each suffragette in your pool.
Possible cost of this card:
- Need 3 suffragettes
- Use X amount of Prestige

Possible Victory Condition (needs change):
- Gather X number of Achievements
- Have a secret objective (like gathering 3 suffragettes etc)
- Gather X amount of Prestige

I know I will have to balance the achievement cards and the cost of some women cards since some women cards are stronger than others ( receiving Prestige in any turn is stronger than receiving in your turn)...

So this is so far what I have... if someone has any thoughts, ideas, critics or suggestions... please, let me know!

Thank you so much and I am sorry about the typos!

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011

For a moment I was thinking you had four different kinds of currency in your game, which I feel would be INCREDIBLY confusing. Then I read it a few more times and realized that the different symbols on the die were like the different colours of cards in Machi Koro. Please correct me here if I'm wrong.

As long as there's only a single unit of currency, then here are some suggestions. You may want to try a few:

- Like in the original Machi Koro, cards can have different costs based on the power of the card. For example, the Diamond cards can be very valuable, while Circle cards can be very cheap in comparison.

- End of Game Suggestion: Although it depends heavily on luck and becomes a dice race, it can favor specialization in the previous card-collection phase of the game. For example, as soon as a player has collected any three of each suit/shape, they are eligible to win the game. To win, they must declare a suit, and then roll the die once for each card of that suit they've collected. If they roll the needed suit a total of three times, they win.

Each time you attempt and fail, you earn an Attempt token. If a player begins their turn after collecting three Attempt tokens, they win. This can allow other players to catch up and/or win with lucky rolls.

- You can limit the number of cards of any one type that players can collect. You mention suffragettes, so an example can be that a player can only have three different Suffragette cards in their tableau.

- You can have several different cards of the same suit available for purchase in the "market" (still limiting purchases to 1 per player turn, as in Machi Koro). This way, if players are trying to collect several of the same suit, they can still earn Achievements without having to spread over too many suits.

- You can have several cards of the same type, but be of different suits. For example, you can have four Suffragette cards of each of the four different suits. This caters to specialization, as well as helps out players who are trying to earn the Achievements you mentioned.

- For adding in a second or more dice, simply allow an expensive card to add in the second (or any additional) die. After rolling, the player can choose which result they want to activate. You could even borrow the "under construction" mechanic from Machi Koro and flip the card over after it's used, so that the player can't do this every turn. Or maybe the player can use it only a certain number of times, and then it's returned to the "market."


Your game seems solid enough so far. Now it's time to create some cards label your die, and test things out. :)

Joined: 01/27/2017
Just a couple quick ideas

I'm not familiar with Machi Koro at all, so I'm missing the context on these mechanics, but I still have a couple ideas you might want to try:

1. Use a D8 instead of a D4. Even if you just have two copies of each symbol, a D8 is much easier to read. Or if you want to introduce more luck into the game, there could be two versions of each symbol (maybe open and filled) that have different effects.

2. Many achievements can actually be accomplished more than once (suffrage in Europe, suffrage in the Americas, etc.) with the first one being the most valuable. But for appropriate kinds of achievements, spreading the benefit broadly is part of the point.

3. For these multi-achievement types, it may not be appropriate for the pioneers (the matched set that got their first achievement) to continue on, but others in that "movement" can then be redeployed to follow-on achievements in that group. For example, suppose Suffrage in Europe happened first. Big step toward victory. A player with another Suffrage in Europe card could use it (at reduced effectiveness) to support a Suffrage in the Americas movement.

4. Accomplishments do not need to occur in historical order, but some orderings might be easier than others. I don't know the history on this, but it makes sense that freedom-of-travel is a precursor to redeploying a card to a movement in a different region.

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