I Have a Board Game Idea – Now What? Part 40: The Importance of Failing Faster

Welcome back! Another week come and gone. It’s hard to believe that Halloween is just around the corner. Before too much longer, people will start counting down the days until Christmas.

Last week I had the pleasure of facilitating a workshop at the local teacher’s pd on finding room for game design in the classroom. As part of the preparation for the workshop, I came across a YouTube video by Extra Credits that talked about the idea of failing faster. In a nutshell, the idea behind failing faster is that almost 100% of the time your first idea for a game is going to be horrible and the sooner you get it in front of play testers, the sooner you will discover this and the sooner you can fix it. In this week’s post, we’re going to look at the importance of failing faster.

In game design, as in life, failing is a good thing

So before we start looking at why failing faster is important, there is something that we need to understand. There is nothing wrong with failing. In fact, failing is extremely important in game design and all aspects of our lives. Micheal Jordan once said:

I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

That said, it also has to be emphasized that failing doesn’t make you a failure. Just because you had a bad idea, doesn’t mean your life is over. The only true failure in life is not learning from our mistakes and the mistakes of others. Check out part 31 of this series for more ideas on dealing with failure.

Failing faster saves time and money

Creative people often have a hard time sharing their creations. They want them to be “perfect” or “complete” before they will let anyone else look at them. Board game designers can also fall into the same trap. The longer you wait before showing off your ideas the more time, and possibly money, you will waste on it. You won’t be able to get it right on your own, and the longer you try the harder it is to change because you won’t want to throw out all of your hard work.

Remembering to fail faster also gives you permission to play test ugly prototypes. They are going to change, so there is no need to spend a lot of time and money on making “pretty” prototypes.

Failing faster allows us to learn and become better designers

The best teacher in life is making mistakes, and the quicker you realize the mistakes you are making the quicker you can learn from them. Learning from our “mistakes” allows us to realize what works and what doesn’t and will help us not make the mistakes again.

Failing faster gives us the time to turn bad games into good ones

Game design is an iterative process. Each time your game is played, you can identify areas that need improvement. It can take a lot of time to test, fix, and then retest your game so the sooner you can start, the more time you will have to complete it fully. This is especially true if you are working on a deadline.

Well that is everything for this week. If you are interested in watching the full video, if can be found here. It focuses more so on video game design, but the lessons learned still hold true for board game design. I would love to hear what you think, and some of the lessons you’ve learned from failing faster. Until next time, happy designing.

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