Bulletpattern Game design, Flash and Unity development

31Oct/110

Witch’s Brew – Halloween game for pre-schoolers

My daughter is 3 and her school was having a Halloween party. They need someone to bring and run a game for the kids. Why not just design a new game?

I approached this design as I do all other designs, nailing down goals and constraints.
- audience: 3-4 years olds.
- goals: a game that incorporates movement and learning
- budget: $20 (I actually spent $26)
- timeline: 3 days

Witch's Brew
Items used:

  • various colored spider rings
  • various colored bracelets
  • toy eyeballs
  • toy spiders
  • little rubber balls with spiders in the center
  • tiny toy pumpkins
  • various colored vampire teeth

Setup
The witch sits in a chair with a pot, bucket, etc. (I borrowed a plastic toy caldron) placed in front of them.

Cut strips of paper with words on them that describe the items, "black", "orange", "purple", "white", "spiders", "pumpkins", "round", etc. Multiple ways to describe the same items is ideal. For example, a bracelet can be "black" or "round", a spider ring might be "green" or "spider".

Every kid gets a cup (I had Halloween themed party cups) full of 6 "random" items. I generally tried to give a good selection.

A line is drawn a few feet away from the pot and all kids playing (6 or so is a good number) line up.

The Rules
The witch sits at the pot stirring an asking the kids to help make the Witch's Brew, or Magic Potion if you don't like witches. The witch picks a random piece of paper and calls out what they need for the pot. The kids must find one (only one!) needed item, run and drop it in the pot and then run back behind the line before the witch is done stirring. Keep the stir count flexible.

When a kid runs out out of items they get a prize bag! Keep playing until everyone is out and has a bag. Grab a handful of stuff and refill the cups for the next round.

Execution
My daughter helped me play test the night before the party and she loved it. She played it solo 10x and would have kept going if it wasn't bedtime. I knew I had a hit on my hands.

The next day was the party and having a plant who knew how to play, my daughter, helped things go smoother. The kids played and had a blast. Cycles of play got pretty chaotic and kids dropped into rounds at random times. There were many sad faces when game time was over so I suppose that's good.

Giving prize bags was a huge mistake. Kids got confused about what was a prize and what was a game piece. Prizes got mixed into the game and game pieces were taken away as prizes. Later rounds we just gave away stickers. I should have just given out stickers when players ran out of items.

Conclusion
This was such a fun opportunity as both a parent and a game designer. I got to have fun with my kid and design a game outside of my comfort zone.

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