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Board Game Design Day: Why Indirect or Zero Player Interaction Can Be Great

Gil Hova  (Owner, Formal Ferret Games)

Location: Room 3005, West Hall

Date: Monday, March 18

Time: 3:50 pm - 4:20 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

Many people assume that direct interaction is a given in a board or card game with multiple players. Don't you need to be able to attack your opponent in order for the game to work? This lecture from board game designer Gil Hova ('The Networks') shows that attacking players in a board game isn't necessarily a bad thing; it's just that there are other ways to design a board game.

Plenty of board games have achieved critical and commercial success without the players going for each other's throats or backs. The talk will break down player interaction from a theoretical point of view and then walk through games with indirect interaction (like 'Race for the Galaxy') and even zero player interaction (like 'Take It Easy'). Ultimately, this talk will look at how games with indirect or no player interaction can be satisfying, along with common pitfalls to avoid.


Indirect interaction is a powerful design tool that can open your game up to casual audiences, and offer a satisfying break from more aggressive games. It's not that direct interaction is a bad design choice, but it is not your only design choice. By the end of this talk, designers should be able to expand their design palette to allow for wider audiences to enjoy their games.

Intended Audience

Beginner and intermediate board game designers, especially designers with experience in other gaming fields.