James Wallis levels with you

Good things in small packages

At Tabletop Day last weekend I picked up a copy of Love Letter by Seiji Kanai, from AEG. If you don’t know it, it’s a lovely little game: just sixteen cards. It’s padded with some tokens and some reference cards, and it comes in an embroidered velvet bag, but it’s basically sixteen cards.

Needless to say, I love it. It’s like a fine watch mechanism: intricate, mysterious and beautiful. A jewelled movement of a game.

And it plays into my fondness for miniaturisation in game design. I like small games. I design small games. Smallness doesn’t have to mean simplicity. Baron Munchausen is a half-page of rules with a great deal of embroidery. There was that Cadbury Pocket Game thing a while ago, for which I took one of the heaviest games of recent years and condensed it into six counters and a stick of chalk. And of course I’ve been putting games on the back of my business cards since the late 2000s; every time I do a new business card I design a new game for it.

So it’s nice that my former office-mates Hide & Seek have picked up the whole idea of tiny games and have run with it. They did a whole campaign of excellent tiny location-based games around London last summer, and now they’re building on that with a Kickstarter to create an iPhone app filled with amazing tiny games and a very cool system for deciding which one you should play next.

And they’ve tapped a number of games figures and designers to create additional material and new games for them. I am happy to report that these worthies will include Eric Zimmerman, Jane McGonigal, Doug Wilson, Bernie DeKoven and me.

The Kickstarter has a week to run as I write this, and deserves your support. Plus if you pledge £40 you can get a beta-release copy of Hide & Seek’s epic Drunk Dungeon game. A bargain… though at 500 cards it hardly counts as tiny. Shame.

Categorised as: game design | street games

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