It all started at a Stevens Game Development Club event on campus.
The theme of the night was “Tabletop Game Jam,” where participants were tasked to create a board game from scratch.
“I hadn't made a board game since I was a kid, but I thought about the things that I loved in games and crammed that into a chaotic prototype,” said Frank DiCola, the creator of the original game prototype.
DiCola, who graduated in 2014 with a degree in Visual Arts & Technology, has been devoting his time since graduation to Mr. Game!, the board game developed on that late April evening in 2013. He is currently working with a team of fellow Stevens students Tim Barbara, Kenny Goff and Nick Pagano to further develop the game into a commercially viable product.
“From the beginning, we had a very clear goal of what the game could become if we worked on it hard enough,” DiCola said. “We were inspired to keep working on it because we knew that a lot of games had done successful Kickstarter campaigns and we had that in the back of our minds the whole time.”
After multiple iterations and testing with focus groups on campus, a consistent prototype of the game was created. To further hone the visual design of the game, Dicola made Mr. Game! the topic of his Senior Design project.
“Working on the game gave me a chance to bring other users in on the design experience, which was important. Up until then we had just showed people new designs we worked on. They didn't give us much feedback because they figured we were done. Senior Design was a more iterative process, where we presented to the group every other week and we had to make meaningful strides. This led to a ‘rapid feedback loop’ and what I believe is an overall effective design,” he said.
Mr. Game! is a typical board game with dice rolling and moving around the board in an effort to make it to the ‘goal’ tile. To make it unique, players draw cards that are designed to change the game in dangerous and unpredictable ways. The cards allow players to move the goal tile, move other players, or even change the landscape of the board. Mr. Game! is designed to be played at parties as it constantly changes, providing endless entertainment for its players.
In 2014, DiCola and his fellow Stevens partners formed Margrave Games, a multi-partner LLC, to help produce Mr. Game!. The project is now live on Kickstarter in order to get the funds required for large-scale production.
So far, over 120 backers have supported the initiative, and the team is over halfway to their goal of raising $15,000. If they achieve their goal, they plan to make the games available for purchase on Amazon, and each supporter pledging $35 or more will receive a copy of the board game in September. Eventually, they hope to use the profits from Mr. Game! to develop and manufacture more games.
For DiCola, having a background in Visual Arts & Technology helped him immensely throughout the process, especially having fluency with graphic design and its accompanying software tools.
“Most of the time, making a professional product in the 21st century is going to be an art project. There's just so much media that needs to be created in order to look professional and have a meaningful web presence. If you don’t have these skills, you will fall behind. I couldn't have done this without Prof. Jeff Thompson and the skills I learned throughout my degree in Visual Arts & Technology,” he said.
To learn more about Mr. Game! and to support the project, visit their Kickstarter page: www.kickstarter.com/projects/margravegames/mr-game-the-chaotic-party-game.
How to play Mr. Game! video:
Right photo: Stevens students playing an iteration of Mr. Game!
Bottom left photo: Mr. Game! board