China Cover Examination

Since I began working on game designs, I have been fascinated with the technique of collaging layers of found artifacts relating to the theme. I started this method with my Puerto Rico and Age of Mythology efforts. Since then, I've given a good deal of thought toward this style of art as it might be applied in game design.

Of particular interest to me is how this style often echos the application of theme in game design . There are many ways a game designer might develop theme within a game. One method designers very often use is to collage thematic details into the fabric of a game. Thematic details are identified and then paired up to mechanics and game play. At times, these details correspond to actions which relate to real life and other times not. For example, in Royal Turf we have a theme of horse race betting. So, here we have elements like a race track, horses, a saddle, a hat, place, show, etc. No attempt was made to simulate the theme of horse race betting. Instead, a clever game was created where thematic elements have been collaged together to give an impression, smell or ambiance of a race with betting. A die with a hat, saddle and such is an example of this collaging technique.

Cover detail

Here I have created a cover that references Chinese ambassidors and buildings. It has a strong Chinese feel to it and a great deal of flavor without any explicit storyline – much like many/most Euros play. This ambient flavor is has a rich look to it which I find appealing. A sophisticated, grown up look appropriate for display on a coffee table or prominent spot in the house or office.

Sophistication is sorely lacking within the hobby. Trite covers are the rule. As a result, our hobby has no badge value, no style, taste or adult appeal. It is of no surprise that our game boxes are crammed in the closets and on shelves while the occasional pretty wooden abstracts are put out for display. There is no reason, however, that a game box can be developed with enough appeal to be displayed on the coffee table. It seems reasonable that the box which represents our passion in life should displace those pretty, unread coffee table books.

– Mike

©2007 Mike Doyle