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Board Game Design Day: Twists and Turns: How the Speed Cubing Community Turned Rubik's Cube into a Competitive Genre

Andrew Fray  (Lead Programmer, Spry Fox)

Location: Room 3005, West Hall

Date: Monday, March 18

Time: 4:40 pm - 5:10 pm

Pass Type: All Access, GDC Conference + Summits, GDC Summits - Get your pass now!

Topic: Design

Format: Tutorial

Tutorials: Board Game Design Day

Vault Recording: Video

The Rubik's Cube was invented in 1974 and became a huge craze in the '80s. Yet the modern world championships, where people compete to solve the cube and other puzzles in as fast a time as possible, was not established until 2003. Those world championships were not run by the Rubik company, but by an independent international organization of speed-solving enthusiasts, or 'speedcubers'. This community took what was a toy and, without corporate backing, turned it into a game. Then they turned that game into a genre with hundreds of variants and celebrity designers. Growth followed, with 359 competitions registered worldwide in 2013, increasing to 679 by 2016.

How did the community achieve this? Was it luck, organization, or both? What type of players does speedcubing attract? What industries sprang up to support the game? How is speedcubing different to the board or video game industry, and how is it the same?


Attendees will learn the vital steps in speedcubing becoming a viable genre, and how it all happened on a budget. They will understand what innovation looks like in the speedcubing world, and how the communities organize.

Intended Audience

Developers interested in how puzzle and board game communities self-organize and grow, and how corporate influence can both help and hinder communities.