Game ideas: how to create your game ideas in 5 steps

So you want to come up with new game ideas for your next game, but you don’t know exactly where to start? There is a simple and efficient technique that will help you to create your next amazing game ideas.

This technique can be used in every situation from a simple game jam to a studio that needs to come up with new game ideas.

But let’s cut to the chase and let’s see how it works.


Step One: Expansion phase:

Let’s assume that you are in a game jam and as a theme, you have a snake that is eating its tail. The first thing to do is to put a sketch of the theme in the center of a board and then each member of the team could start to connect secondary ideas to the main one. At the end of this process you should have something like this:

From the book: Introduction to Game Design by Jeremy Gibson
From the book:
Introduction to Game Design by Jeremy Gibson

The ideas that you connect to the main one doesn’t have to be associated with the main theme. It could be any kind of ideas.

Step two: Collection phase:

This step is very simple: You just have to collect all the ideas that you put on the board in the first phase into simple cards. It should be something like this:

Card collections in game creation
From the book: Introduction to Game Design by Jeremy Gibson

Step Tree: Collection phase:

Here’s where the fun begins. Shuffle all the idea cards that you’ve made and deal two to each person in the group. Each person takes their two cards up to the whiteboard and reveals them to everyone. Then the group collectively comes up with three different game ideas inspired by the collision of the two cards.

Phase tree Collision
From the book: Introduction to Game Design by Jeremy Gibson


Step Four: Rating Phase

Now that you have a lot of ideas, it’s time to start culling them. Each person should write on the whiteboard the two ideas from Step 3 that she thinks have the most merit.
Once everyone has done this, then all people should simultaneously put a tick mark next to the three ideas written on the board that they like the most.
You should end up with some ideas with lots of tick marks and some with very few.


Step 5: Discussion

Now that you have lots of ideas, it’s time to boil them down and combine them into good ideas. With dozens of different crazy ideas to choose from, you should be able to find a couple that sounds really good and to combine them into a great starting point for your design.

As you can see this technique is

  1. Very simple
  2. Fast
  3. Efficient

It’ll just take 1 hour to have all your new game ideas ready to be developed.

The origin of this technique came from the book  Introduction to Game Design by Jeremy Gibson


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1 Comment

  • an extremely sound advice, I can explain why it works

    Your brain works on connections. We connect things in our head if they are somewhat relatable to each other from our subjective perspective – basic pattern recognition.

    The first stage is basically finding all the synonyms to the main word/concept and writing it down in their relative proximity. This allows us to see “the bigger picture”, and the disorganized, but connected layout helps further fuel the idea explosion. It even looks like an explosion as you work it out.

    The second step is more or less unnecessary but nonetheless facilitates the work yet to be done since it gets tidily organized in a form of small and digestible chunks rather than being a blob-like unseparated mess.

    Third – probing. Also known as “poking” or “creating an opportunity”, tho essentially the same word. Your brain works on overdrive when you feel like there is a solution as it tries to connect whatever concepts, ideas and knowledge you store to form a meaningful answer or at least an advancement to the problem you have. So, by merely imagining these two randomly thrown ideas together DO somehow make sense your creative mechanisms starting to grind everything in and out and thus you’re able to produce weird af ideas. And we know from game-design their “weirdness” is totally irrelevant to the actual gameplay, see Mario.

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