If it seems like the newest class at Lindenwood Unversity-Belleville is just fun and games... well, it is.
For the first time, this quarter, the school is offering a class that’s focused on designing board games.
The Game Design course is an old school throwback in a world where video games take up so much of young peoples’ time, according to Derek Dadian Smith, assistant professor of communication at Lindenwood-Belleville.
“The idea behind the course isn’t just to have fun,” Dadian Smith said. “I decided to create this class as a way to explore interactive media. It gets people to think in different ways.”
Instead of sitting in front of a computer screen writing code, students build physical game boards. Over the course of the quarter, they have gaming sessions in which students try out the new creations and see what works — as well as what doesn’t.
The course gets communications students, many who also study computer programming, out of their comfort zone and encourages them to think about other ways to communicate and encourage people to interact with each other.
The idea behind the course isn’t just to have fun. I decided to create this class as a way to explore interactive media. It gets people to think in different ways.
Derek Dadian Smith, Lindenwood-Belleville professor
Tyler McPherson, a 21-year-old student in the class from Mascoutah, said he’s invested $1,200 in the game he’s developing, which involves tribes of island warriors fighting for dominance of the map that makes up the game board.
“I’ve tested it 10 times already, and it’s been a hit with the people who played it,” McPhearson said. “It’s not just a class project for me. It’s something I have become passionate about. I’m starting to think about trying to get it published and marketed.”
McPherson said he’s made a lot of tweaks to the game. Most revolve around streamlining and shortening the length of time it takes to play. He said he’d ultimately like it to be a competition that takes about an hour from set up to end.
Classmate Brady Keeran, 21 of Catlin in Vermillion County near the Indiana border, has a completely different concept in mind.
His game, Too Young to Die, is based on a cheesy horror movie, and it is designed to be played all night.
“The object is to stay alive by the end of the seventh round,” Keeran said. “Each round is supposed to last about an hour.”
Players navigate a haunted house throughout the night and try to befriend their teammates who have the power to help them — or hurt them — both in this life or as ghosts.
“You get to keep playing if you die,” Keeran said. “It wouldn’t be much fun for people who die in the first or second round otherwise.”
During a testing session in the cafeteria at Lindenwood-Belleville’s Alan Dixon Student Center, a table full of players roared at once: “We all died at the same time!”
It’s not just a class project for me. It’s something I have become passionate about.
Tyler McPherson, a student in the board games class
Dadian Smith said, although the class is brand new, he believes it has generated a strong enough response to justify it being offered in the future. He said it might not be available every quarter. But it will likely come up in the rotation on a regular basis.
Lindenwood-Belleville President Brett Barger said he’s glad the school is able to offer classes that keep students interested in learning.
“We’re excited to be able to offer as many opportunities as possible,” Barger said. “The possibilities are endless.”