How I create ideas for board games

Written by: Calvin Kammer


Making games is a rewarding project, when you know what you are doing.

For me, it’s easiest to know what a game needs by having something of a clear vision for it. How I get that vision is tricky, as there is no single method that I've found works every time.


This is the most business-school response of me. Once you’ve identified a community, say gamers that love automation, you can craft a game around them.

An important distinction that many don’t understand is that you do not need to be a part of your target audience to be able to deliver them games they will like.

I was never a part of the target audience that my escape room caters to, as a broke college student escape rooms were out of my price range for entertainment. Even though I am not an ideal escape room player, I was able to create game that escape room enthusiasts enjoy.

A lot of what makes this approach successful is when you are able to talk directly with your target players. When you can identify which specific mechanics or themes they like you can build a game from scratch they will like!


Playing a round of Cosmic Encounter had me yearn for a cooperative experience based on the same system. I had originally no intention of making a game like it, but the game experience of Cosmic Encounter had left such a profound impact on me that I couldn’t help but want to make a game inspired by it.

Taking a concept and “moving the needle” further is an approach game makers can take. Certainly Stardew Valley could never have existed without Harvest Moon, but saying that Stardew Valley is a cheap knock-off will be fighting words in some Discords.

Spontaneous generation

This is the one that I like the most, though it’s the most unreliable method of game creation. When a game just comes to you from seemingly out of the ether, it’s hard to not form an emotional attachment to whatever the wild concept may be.


Thanks for reading! If you found this to be engaging please engage in the conversation by commenting or sharing this post. I'm always open to feedback, and am looking forward to continuing expanding on Blurbs from the Bloated Toad. -Calvin

Back to blog

Leave a comment