Finding Game Design Inspiration from Everyday Life

It maybe cliche, but truth exists in the quotations about inspiration within everyday life. Such inspiration stuck me while at work this past week for a game design based of regular expressions. Before I continue on with the story allow me to lay the ground work as to why I began brainstorming ideas for a board game. I enjoy board games; you might even go as far as to say it’s an obsession of mine. Like so many of us who are into board games, I have a desire to design and develop a board game which will be enjoyed by millions around the world. Well maybe not millions, but you get the idea. After all just how hard could it be? Well it turns out it’s very difficult; the gold standard continues to increase each year. And with thousands of new games released each year it’s very difficult to create something that stands out among the sea of new games.

In the past I’ve had several ideas for games, but none of them seem to be the right fit for some reason or another. Which leads me back to my original story. I was at work trying to solve a problem with filtering text out of log files using our system monitoring software. As the old saying goes:

If you have a problem and you try to solve it with a regular expression, then you have two problems.

For those of you not familiar with regular expressions, they are series of characters used to match a string of text or numbers. For example, if I created an telephone directory application I would use a regular expression to determine if a series of numbers entered as the phone number were formatted correctly. I would use the expression below to match and validate phone numbers entered as 123-456-7890, 123 456 7890, 123.456.7890, or +91 (123) 456-7890

^(\+\d{1,2}\s)?\(?\d{3}\)?[\s.-]\d{3}[\s.-]\d{4}$

As you can see regular expressions can be very cryptic.

I don’t work with regular expression on a daily or weekly basis, so I’m pretty rusty when I have create them. While reading more about negative look aheads I thought to myself how it would be much easier if I knew the regular expression syntax rather than having to look it up each time. It didn’t take me much time to make the connection between my need to learn something and to thinking about how I could develop a game to help me learn the syntax for regular expressions.

From this one idea the inspirational flood gates have opened up for me. I have the basic idea for my game and have even thought of a way to theme the game to mask the regular expressions so as to make the game more appealing to a wider audience. I hope to begin developing this game soon, and to begin play testing this summer.

From this, I hope you begin to look for ideas for your own game designs from everyday problems you encounter. You never know when you may stumble upon a great game design idea.