The Plan

This photo, “planning poker warm up” is copyright (c) 2011 clive darra and made available under a  Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 license

This photo, “planning poker warm up” is copyright (c) 2011 clive darra and made available under a Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 license

"No battle plan survives contact with the enemy." -- Helmuth von Moltke

"Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." -- Dwight D. Eisenhower 

Although having a master plan never works, I do believe it is important to have an overarching vision or goal. But it is important to not be a slave to a goal and to be willing to adapt and "go with the flow". I want to outline several goals that I want to have for this project and it would be interesting to later on recap how my initial ideas related to the later outcomes of this project.


Initially, I thought it would be a crazy, but cool idea to keep with the spirit of the hackathon ideal and have the event run for a full 24 hours. However, talking with some folks, maybe the event should be 10-12 hours instead. Just wondering if that would be enough time for teams to brainstorm, design, and playtest.

As for the date that I would like to host the event, I would love to have this event as part of the 3 day game-fest Strategicon. I attended every gaming convention from them last year and it is a great venue to play a ton of games and being around with gamers. My ideal would be the possibility of having a hackathon during that Sunday weekend.

However, maybe it isn't ideal to host the event the same time as there being so many other gaming activities around. Another idea is to have the event at one of the many local venues around Los Angeles that have hosted hackathons before or at my school UCLA.

The timeframe that I would like to have the event would be sometime this summer (May-Sept).


I would love for this event to be free for participants. This would certainly increase attendance. However, that would be on extra pressure to get major sponsors and donations to run the event. I wouldn't want the event to be run on a shoestring budget. I would want to have food provided (lunch, dinner, snacks) and have supplies provided as well.

So, maybe some small cost of around $20 would work?


I am envisioning people forming teams of 4-5 people, with each team having a design lead and an assigned game mentor. People can come with pre-formed teams, or come in and meet random folks, or a mix of both. The game mentor would be a game design veteran who has the experience to help coach their team through the game design process and provide advice/feedback when needed.

There would be several categories that these teams can design and compete for prizes. For example, the categories can be:

  1. Most creative
  2. Most fun
  3. Best game debut (from designers who have never made a game before)
  4. Best game (from designers who have made a game before)
  5. Best expansion/mashup game (from teams who chose to expand or mashup existing games)
  6. Best party game
  7. Best co-op
  8. Etc

Also, what I have seen from other hackathons is that a company sponsors a special prize if a team incorporates their product into their project/design. It would be really cool to have Wizards of the Coast have a prize to create a new way to play Magic: The Gathering with new custom cards. Or have Rio Grande Games sponsor a prize for teams to make an expansion to Cinque Terre.


I would imagine the day would be outlined such as:

9AM: Check-in/Networking/Team forming
10AM: Keynote speech/Introductions
10:30AM-12PM: Brainstorming/Design/Build
12PM-1PM: Lunch/First open playtesting
1PM-3PM: Brainstorming/Design/Build
3PM-4PM: Second open playtesting
4PM-7PM: Brainstorming/Design/Build
7PM-8PM: Judges playtesting/review
8PM-9PM: Closing keynote/Prizes
9PM-10PM: Open networking

These are just some of my ideas, but would love to find people to be on the organization team. If interested, be sure to sign up!

The first step

This photo,  “Start"   is copyright (c) 2011 JakeandLindsay Sherbert and made available under a  Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 license

This photo, “Start"  is copyright (c) 2011 JakeandLindsay Sherbert and made available under a Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 license

Why create a hackathon for board gaming?

I have to admit, I have never done a hackathon. But I am intrigued by the concept of a team with a singular focus working on a project together from just an idea to reality in a very short amount of time. Usually when I work on a project I get bogged down on the details or making things perfect. But in such a short amount of time, as in a hackathon, you have to not worry about making thing perfect, but instead focus on getting things done.

I love the quote from Mark Rosewater, the famed Head Designer of Magic: The Gather, “restriction breeds creativity”.  With an idea and a time limit I want to see what happens when you get creative designers, talented artists, and dedicated folks together.

So, why board gaming? 

I went to my first board gaming event around October 2011 with Westside Geeks and Nerds and have been fascinated ever since. Since then I have joined many other board gaming groups, such as Westside Gamers, Los Angeles redditors,  Westside Gamenight, and met many wonderful, and sometimes strange, people.

I love the personal relationship that you need to play board games from learning the rules from someone else, or teaching the rules of the game to someone new. I love the challenge of having to figure out how something new works rather quickly and process information in order to achieve a goal. I love the thrill of winning, but also having to be humble and accepting of defeat. I love sometimes trusting your gut, but also having a balance with cold, harsh logic. In short, board gaming teaches so many life lessons in such a compact system that can last anywhere from a few minutes to multiple hours on end. You pick and choose your adventure and there is such a great variety.

So, when is this going to happen?

Right now, I have no clue. But I hope to document my experience with creating this project. First, I hope to recruit folks who want to see this experiment happen. Then we will brainstorm a plan of attack and see what happens. Care to join me?