Mike Rousseau is a university student studying Communications in Edmonton, Alberta. A life-long gamer and aspiring games writer, he works in the summer as a camp coordinator for kids 8-12 years old. Mike has written about these experiences on his blog, Fierce Punch, including an essay describing his conversations with kids about the video games they play.
This summer Mike decided to mine his experiences with video games to design a new team-building game for the campers that would emphasize cooperation, exploration, and problem-solving. He began with the premise that:
...all forms of game design follow the same fundamentals, regardless of whether you're designing a video game, board game, or wide game. To make a game fun, certain considerations need to be made, and while I'm no expert in game design, I know what I find fun.
The game he came up with is called "Codebreaker," and he outlines the pre-game explanation conveyed to the kids:
1) Gather the youth and explain to them that some nefarious plot has been hatched while they were busy. Some trickster has hidden bombs all over the camp, and you need their help to find them. The man left behind coded messages to help find the bombs, but you accidentally mixed up the keys! They need to find the right key, crack the code, find the bomb, and disarm it within the time limit you decide upon.
2) Make a point of explaining that these aren't real bombs, or to retain the conceit, explain that the bombs look curiously like glowsticks.
Mike has written a thorough and refreshingly self-critical design document describing the game, how it was received by the campers, and what he learned in the process. As an example of yet another way video games can stimulate the imagination - and make summer camp way more fun than when I was a kid - it's a delightful read. You can find the entire essay here.
Hmm. Now I'm thinking Hunt the Wumpus was really just a computerized Snipe Hunt. Which explains why that critter was so damned hard to find. ;-)