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Messing About + Nan = Birth of Game Off


We made a card game in our spare time. It took about nine months to get from the idea to the actual game in our actual hands. We are brothers from Coventry, Uk.

Want to do the same? Here's how we did it:

1. Get an Idea

Ours was accidental. For the last few years we have been making Christmas games for our family. Quizzes, challenges, silly stuff, all with Nan (and Grandma for the other side of the family) as the centre of attention.

For example:

Nanly Fortunes - We asked Nan to name 5 dinners. It's clearly Family Fortunes, Nan style. (From memory she said - lasagne, spag bol, steak&chips, roast beef, steak&ale pie)

Dead or Alive - We came up with a list of forty people who may or may not be dead. You have to say which. Categories - Sport/Entertainment/Politics/Music. Erma Franklin, for instance - Dead or Alive?

Bank Raid - We told Nan to organise a hypothetical bank raid. She had to pick members of the family to fill these roles: Gunmen (2), Getaway driver, Planner, Mole. Teams had to write their guesses to match Nan's thinking.

Selfie - I gave Nan my phone with the instruction to take a selfie. I then filmed what followed. The question to the teams was: How long will it take Nan to take a selfie?

a)less than 1 minute

b)1-2 mins

c)2-4 mins

d)5+ mins

e)unable to complete task.

We then played the film. It was great.

Nanopoly - We spilt the family into teams and pitched them against each other in challenges such as: putting Maltesers into cups with chopsticks, shoving marshmellows into your mouth, getting an After Eight mint from your forehead to your mouth by using your face muscles only.

Game Off was born somewhere here.

Cracker Jokes - We also write alternative xmas jokes and sneak them into the crackers. This one stays the same every year:

"Why did Jose cross the road?"

"Because Jo told him to."

2. Just Do It

Nike were right. Sometime around Easter 2017, Bob called me and said he had played our Nanopoly type game during a brainstorming session at work and people went crazy for it.

"Someone said if it was a real game, they would buy it." Bob reported, cheerfully.

"Cool" I reacted, coolly.

Shall we try and make it?" he asked, askingly.

"Sure, why not" I replied, not indecisively.

We actually only had two elements to the game.

1. Randomly picking an opponent - Two dice - one standard 1-6, the other with only L's and R's. Left and Right. You roll them both. You get 3 and L, the player sitting three to your left is your opponent. Simple and a tiny bit ingenious.

2. Head to head challenges. In the beginning, a lot of them were "borrowed" from elsewhere. We didn't invent the Face Race (the After Eight game) nor could we use it in the real game because it involved buying chocolates with every purchase. I was really pushing for a shopping list to go alongside the game. Chopsticks, marshmellows.. a million other things, but it felt unachievable. I was a stubborn jerk for ages before I relented. So we thought of a bunch of original games to go alongside all the other borrowed games (things like Thumb War) which we could make use of.

So we gradually put together about fifty games. It needed a clear format and way of winning so we organised the games into Mental, Physical.... other ones. It was really tricky getting the other categories. I made a prototype and got some friends over. I still had the "Props" category (chocolates, chopsticks, etc) which was actually the outstanding set of games. It would be a while before I gave up on those- I was in full swing stubborn jerk mode.

- Incidentally, there is now a game on sale called "Beat That" which is similar to Game Off but is based on games involving chopsticks, counters, plastic cups and so on. That's right, it's the same idea we came up with originally. It looks amazing and it's absolutely CRUSHING it. Honestly, I feel a mixture of pride and envy. Add that to my standard gluttony and you've got yourself a deadly sin stew. To be fair, we just didn't have the budget or know how to make it ourselves at the time. I was dead right, though. The lesson: be a Nandor. Never relent.

3. Test Evening

Organising that first test evening had its difficulties. First, nobody took me seriously. I had been banging on about this game for a few weeks already. Bear in mind, my friends are not a gamer-type group of friends. We played Articulate one Christmas but we ended up arguing like dogs. We all silently agreed not to bother again. So, when everyone came over to see that I had laid out a bowl of crisps and a few scraps of paper, they were ready to give me both barrels. They're dead honest, you see. I like that about my friends. The absolute sods.

Anyway, it was amazing. The best fun we'd had in ages. I was happy to report the news to Bob.

"It was amazing" I said, amazed.

So we didn't quit.

It took about six months to get from that first prototype to the finished product. Not bad, considering we have normal jobs and girlfriends who say things like "Seriously? You're working on that thing? Again? It's 1am. Come to bed, you idiot."

More in the next blog thingy. I still don't know what a blog actually is.


Captain Fat

aka Andy

aka Dr Rudenstein.

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