One Hour Worldbuilders

As part of my work at the City University of Hong Kong researching worldbuilding, I examined games and rule structures designed to help people collaboratively build worlds. I couldn’t find any worldbuilding games that were portable, easy to learn, and playable in a short time. So I made One Hour Worldbuilders: a cooperative card game for four players designed to help you collaboratively build a world in under an hour.

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The game consists of a series of prompts that players read and respond to while asking each other questions and making clarifications. One challenge I noted early in development is that given such a short time, it’s easy for players to fall back on familiar tropes and genres, resulting in worlds that feel derivative and samey. To get away from this, I have players begin with Theme cards, which prompt them to create a world based on ideas, feelings and thoughts from their own lives. For example, one theme card reads:

Describe an argument you’ve had with someone older than you – a parent, grandparent, older relative or friend. What would this argument look like on the scale of your world? Who are the two sides? Who is in power? Whose position is the most popular? How did this argument begin? Has it been resolved? If so, how? If not, why not?

Aside from forcing players to think outside the boxes of familiar genres and worlds, the theme cards function as an icebreaker and a  bridge from the social setting into a more creative space.

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I made the game independently, from the writing and rules to the design and artwork. Thank you to the City University of Hong Kong and to my worldbuilding co-researcher Damien Charrieras for providing me with the space and time to work on this, and of course to my playtesters for helping me iron it out!

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