The Game Design Masterclass is a three-hour lecture and workshop that covers the theory, principles and techniques of designing a tabletop game. By the end of it you will have concepted, designed and built a complete game, and taken it through two rounds of testing and refinement. You’ll also have evaluated two games created by other teams, given and received feedback on their design and progress, will have thorough understanding of the underlying methods of designing games, and will have a complete physical game in a box to take away.

The Masterclass teaches boardgame design, obviously, but also teamwork and project management, delegation, research, timekeeping, the principles of design, working to a brief, and how to develop and deliver a creative piece as a team. It can be refined or run in a particular way to fit the needs of a client who may want a group exercise to reinforce a particular set of project-related skills (e.g. gamification, or paper prototyping for video games), or to evaluate a group of teams for their ability to work together on a challenging brief.

James Wallis ran the first Masterclass as part of the London Games Festival in 2008, when it was known just as the ‘Boardgame Design Workshop’. That led to a part-time lectureship at Westminster University, where James developed it further with his students, and subsequently at London South Bank University. Since then the Masterclass has been run for over a thousand people: aspiring games designers, videogame companies, corporate bodies, charities, university faculties, at conferences and conventions, in games shops and boardgame cafes, on an island in a Norwegian fjord, and for the Prince’s Trust. The Masterclass has been run across the UK and Europe, and at the Gen Con games convention in America, where James was a guest of honour in 2017.

The Masterclass is a 45-minute talk and over two hours of guided games-making and testing, followed by a debrief and wrap-up. Sessions are usually capped at thirty people, which is an ideal number, though it’s possible to run it for more if required. Normally it’s only for over-16s, though there’s a shorter version of the workshop that can be run for children as young as eight, and one of the Masterclass’s most interesting games was created by two ten-year-olds.

As the international profile of the Masterclass has grown, other games designers around the world are now running it in their own countries under James’s guidance. In particular noted games writer Steve Dee runs the Masterclass in Australia, with sessions in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.

If you want to attend a future Masterclass, are interested in having James or another experienced game designer organise a Masterclass in your area, at your convention or for your organisation, or if you’re a games designer who’d like to run it yourself in your local area, then please get in touch.

Future workshops

UNITED KINGDOM: 5th March 2018, at Eclectic Games in Reading, starting at 19:00. Led by James Wallis, to celebrate the launch of the White Box from Atlas Games. Contact Eclectic Games for tickets and information.

AUSTRIA: 26th March 2018, in Vienna, starting at 18:30 in the Museums Quarter. Led by James Wallis, organised by Verse Publications GmbH. Click here for more information and tickets.