Game Design Canvas

Lean, agile, user-focused design for intentional games

Designing games that are entertaining, challenging and fun to play is difficult enough, and even more so for game-based learning and simulation projects where there is an intention to impact players beyond offering them pure entertainment.

Documenting the intricate details of a game’s design takes time and many pages of narrative and sketches. Yet even if a Game Design Document is fully read, understood and embraced by the team, once work begins these documents are too complicated to be updated, so design and engineering breakdowns are common.

Game Design Canvas is the solution

Game Design Canvas is a set of tools and process that makes designing a game — or game level — fast and predictable. The result is a structured canvas that’s easy to share, understand and update throughout the development process.

Game Design Canvas consulting and coaching services

We developed the Game Design Canvas approach for our own work but it’s become bigger than that. We’re organizing a series of game design workshops using GDC with the New York Game Based Learning Meetup, we have been engaged by several companies to facilitate game jams with their subject matter and product development experts, and there’s a very good chance we can help you, too. Tell us a little about your project, and we’ll talk.

Frequently asked questions about Game Design Canvas

Can I use this with other game design tools? Definitely! Whether you’re a fan of Jesse Schell’s game design “lenses,” Tracy Fullerton’s “playcentric” approach, Raph Koster’s “Theory of Fun” or others, the Game Design Canvas provides a lean, agile framework and process for articulating your design thinking, regardless of how you got there.

Will the Game Design Canvas eliminate time and cost for detailed design documents? Sadly, no. In most cases you will still need to develop more comprehensive plans before full scale development. What the Game Design Canvas will do, however, is give you a tool to quickly capture your design thinking, and it’s that one-page simplicity that makes it really useful for iterating and perfecting your game plan.

Is the Game Design Canvas only good for games? Not at all! If you’re using game techniques and mechanics to onboard or reward visitors, or if there’s a core behavioral loop or action in an application that you want your users to learn, then this approach could work for you, too.

What’s so “lean, agile and user centered” about the Game Design Canvas? It’s lean because it forces you to capture your game design in a few words. It’s agile because it’s fast to work with and focuses you on one piece of the game at a time. And it’s user centered because you define the player upfront, the design matrix.

What people are saying: One of our testers remarked, “My mind is a little bit blown by Game Design Canvas.” Another said, “If we’d had this tool before we designed and developed our last game, the outcome would have been far more successful.”

This sounds good, how do I get a copy? Sign up here to get the download link and receive an email when new versions are available! We promise not to send spam, never share our subscriber lists, and you can always unsubscribe.