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Board Game Design Summit: Developing 'Artifacts of Play' For Your Tabletop Games

Kathryn Hymes (Game Designer, Thorny Games)

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core+Summits Pass, Summits Pass - Get your pass now!

Topic: Board Game Design

Format: Session

Vault Recording: TBD

Audience Level: All

An "Artifact of Play" is something created during a game that outlives the session itself. Think the final map of a game of Pandemic Legacy or the mangled drawing outliving a session of Exquisite Corpse. These artifacts stay with the players long after the game session is over, and bring with them such opportunity to increase the long-term impact of a tabletop game.

The skunkworks of small-press and independent tabletop role-playing games has been experimenting with Artifacts of Play for years, and have used them to great effect in order to increase narrative resonance. From collaboratively created maps, and drawings, to the more abstract like collaboratively built secret languages that far outlive the game session in which they were produced. Let's dive into how Indie RPGs have been experimenting in this space, and how these can be adapted into board game design for more resonant and impactful experiences.


Attendees will learn what an "Artifact of Play" is, and how to identify them in existing tabletop games. They will then get a survey of the different ways modern tabletop roleplaying has experimented in the field, and how these efforts can be used in board game design.

Intended Audience

This talk is for anyone interested in a powerful design tool for player agency and investment board games. It will primarily benefit those who design board games, and are looking to push the emotional resonance of their experiences further. It will also help those who study and critically analyze board games by giving them the language to talk about Artifacts of Play and a greater context on how to evaluate them.