Home > Upcoming Programs > Designing Games That Matter 2019
17 May, 2019
5:30 PM
Tatamagouche Centre, 259 Loop Route 6, RR#3 NS

May 17 – May 21, 2019 Fri 5:30 PM – Tue 2:30 PM

Designing Games That Matter is a four-day intensive with game designer Avery Alder, exploring how to design tabletop games that are meaningful, dynamic, and transformative. We’ll approach design in a playful, hands-on, purposeful, and experimental fashion. Participants will hone their critical design analysis, and discover ways to tell new stories and invite new people to the table. This intensive will utilize hands-on design labs, playstorming, personal reflection, and group discussion to keep participants engaged and inspired. Participants will leave with new project ideas, a repertoire of game design techniques and principles, and some hands-on design experience!

“I loved Avery’s warm presence and lovely expert facilitation. She is a gracious host, a wise and gentle teacher. I appricated her ability to honour members of the group.”2018 Participant

“Bringing Roleplaying to Everyone” was groundbreaking for me. It was a great chance to build, expand, and better incorporate some techniques for creating a safe, inviting, fun space for gaming participants. In the course of that weekend I had the chance to grow my comfort zone by running a roleplaying game for people I’d just met, where my experience in the past had just been in running games for close circles of friends. Walking out of “Bringing Roleplaying to Everyone”, I felt like I had the grounding and self-confidence to start running roleplaying games for tables of new acquaintances back in my hometown … hopefully spreading a passion for the hobby to people who’ve never had a chance to experience it before.”2018 Participant

“I’ve been playing table-top RPGs for decades, but I can honestly say I walked away from last weekend with a whole new recognition and respect for their potential as therapeutic tools, community-builders, safe playgrounds for self-discovery, and implements for social change. I found your intensive educational, boundary-expanding, enlightening, confidence-building, and frequently hilarious!”2017 Participant

Friday: Gathering

This is a partial day, starting with supper at 5:30pm. We’ll meet one another, get a sense of what’s to come, and establish some community standards to help us grow together. Friday sets the stage for our intensive.

Saturday: Insight & Touch

Saturday opens with a game of Dream Askew, which then serves as a design case study as we explore the interconnectedness and politics of game mechanics. You’ll get hands-on with our first design lab, exploring how design can stem from touch and intuition.

Sunday: Ambiguity & Iteration

Sunday opens with a conversation about the role of metaphor and allegory in designing transformative games. After learning about rapid prototyping and targeted playtesting, we’ll put our ideas about metaphor into practice with a design lab focused on ambiguity and metaphor in mechanics. Participant-led breakout conversations will allow people to zero in on what they want to explore most, and then an evening games session will celebrate innovative designs that have captured our attention.

Monday: Adaptation & Scaffolding

Breaking out the scissors and glue, Monday starts with a design lab focused on hacking and remixing other games. Moving away from Saturday and Sunday’s team-building early design explorations, Monday focuses on finding your personal approach to ongoing development. We’ll talk about the importance of including safety tools and scaffolding in your design, and explore some techniques to keep your work accessible and engaging.

Tuesday: Taking It Home

This is a partial day, ending with lunch. Participants will break into groups to talk about project ideas and paths forward, before everyone comes together for final evaluations.

Program Cost:

We work hard to make our programs accessible, while ensuring that the true costs are covered.

When we get grant funding towards our programs, we name the true cost of the program in order to allow those who are able to pay this cost. Some will even be able to pay a generous cost to donate a little extra to help support others. Others need a reduced cost supported by grant funding. Some need greater financial support through our bursaries. If you need financial support, we really would like to hear from you as early as possible. We are particularly excited to support folks from traditionally marginalized backgrounds.

Program pricing: All prices are in Canadian Dollars.

A request for a single room adds $100 to the overall program cost. No accommodation required (if you are staying nearby) reduces the overall program cost by $160. Camping reduces the overall cost by $80.

During the registration process you will be able to opt into one of the following:

  • True Program Cost: $872 (tuition, meals & accommodation in double occupancy)
  • Generous Registration Cost: $1072 ($200 support for another participant, tuition, meals & accommodation in double occupancy)
  • Reduced Program Cost: $575 (tuition, meals & accommodation in double occupancy) No longer available (expired April 15)


Can’t afford it?

Please register as normal and indicate “partial bursary” or “full bursary” in the payment options and we will get in touch with you. Only available until April 15!

Funding for this program is offered by the Vision Fund of the United Church of Canada.

Leadership – Avery Alder

Avery Alder is a queer game designer hailing from Sinixt territory. Her work includes games like Monsterhearts, The Quiet Year, The Deep Forest, Dream Askew, Ribbon Drive, and a host of smaller, scrappier projects. She designs games that tug at the heartstrings, challenging the ways we look at relationships and community. Click here for Avery’s website.

Leadership – Hannah Gehrels

Hannah Gehrels is a queer woman and settler originally from the unceded Anishinaabe territory of Thunder Bay, Ontario. She is the co-founder of the PEI Wild Child program which connects kids to nature through outdoor play. Hannah is committed to building a more inclusive world where differentness is valued, and she works towards shaping change in the direction of migrant justice, right relationship with our natural world, and flourishing queer communities. She has recently waded into the waters of the world of Roleplaying Games, but has a life-long love for games, imagination, and collaborative play.