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Project Timeline

Oct. - Dec. 2022

Project Type

Game Design Class Individual Project

My Role

Game Designer




SimAdventure is a narrative-based board game that simulates nature adventure scenarios. It is designed based on the psychological theory of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which allows players to make decisions and helps them engage in self-exploration and reflection.


"Sim" has double meanings: Simulation and Simplicity

How I Began


What if some games, and the more general concept of "play," not only provide outlets for entertainment but also function as means for creative expression, as instruments for conceptual thinking, or as tools to help examine or work through social issues


Design a game that intervenes in a specific context and examines a specific social or personal issue.

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​SimAdventure intends to intervene in the overwhelming city life and redirect people’s attention to a more simplified life setting (nature) and explore what their core needs are...


Game Design Context

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Game Requirement

  • Player's age: 10+.

  • Be able to clearly articulate their thoughts verbally and in written format.

Game Player

  • The ideal number of players is 4-6 players.

  • Ideal for even number.

Number of Players

  • A place that can hold at least 2 people.

  • A quiet and relaxing environment.

Play Space

Player's Main Action


Players were invited to attend a special and unexpected 5-week nature adventure on an isolated island. 


Players can only pack 10 items in total and make choices for survival in a simulated adventure setting. 


During this 5-week adventure, players will encounter different events or uncertainties each week and they might need to discard, create, or exchange some of their items. 


Players' goal is to use the items they left to survive by the end of the 5 weeks. 

Game Procedure (Flow Chart)

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Game Components Draft

Game Components Final

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Player Brochure

  • A game moderator will facilitate the whole game flow using Moderator Guide. 

  • Each player will be given an Adventure Guide, which will further guide them to experience the game.

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Game Setup

Game Iterations

Round 1

Player Problems


Since event cards are all natural disaster uncertainties, players focused on earning survival points and having competition rather than engaging in self-exploration.

Shift the game focus from “survival” toward “self-exploration” by adding "mental" event cards. 

Round 2

Players were confused about the game rule by just listening to the moderator’s verbal explanation.

Design a game procedure board to help players better understand the game rule.

Round 3

Players want to have more self-exploration elements in the game.

Iterate the accomplishment and reflection section in the adventure guide to help players further engage in self-reflection.

Version 1  Schematic

Version 2  Schematic

​Design Value Behind the Game

Overall Game

  • Simulate different aspects of human life 

  • Social, cultural, religious, etc 

Items Category

  • Psychology Theory: Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs 

  • 1. Physiological 2. Safety 3. Belonging 4. Esteem 5. Self-actualization

Discard Items

  • Simplicity

  • The selection process also reflects player's priority toward different items 

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  • Mimic uncertainties in life 

  • Pandemic, accidental events (physically and mentally)

  • Inspire players' creativity and imagination 

  • Foster collaboration 

  • Help players realize how to maximize the value of limited resources 

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Uncertainty Cards

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Make "Creation" Card

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Solitude Event Card

  • Provide an opportunity for players to discover their inner strength when alone 

  • Resilience may appear under this situation

Key Quotes From Players

"I realized I felt happy when I was surrounded by people in this game. I enjoyed having human connections."

"It has been a long time that I did not find any opportunities to use my creativity. I really appreciate this game letting me rediscover my creativity and imagination."

"My personality gradually came out of this game. My final 3 items reflected what I care most at the current life stage."

Reflections and Learnings 

1. Playtesting is really important 

  • Testing and gaining players’ feedback can help game designers better understand players’ interactions with the game.

  • It is important to be aware that game designers are always the “fish in the water” and sometimes might not be able to easily notice the design flaws of the game. Thus, it is necessary to do multiple rounds of playtesting and make iterations based on feedback.

2. Always remember to connect back to the primary goal

  • During playtesting, every player might give a lot of subjective feedback, but instead of focusing on all feedback from every user, it is more important to focus on feedback that aligned with my primary design goal.

3. A good game designer is also a good storyteller  

  • The game designer should think about how to make the relatively complex game system easier to understand for players (e.g. instead of presenting all game rules to players at once, it is better to explain the rule while playing; present game information clearly through a visualized way) and how to make the story narration compelling.

  • A good storyteller or a good game designer will make a complex and long game easy and compelling for players. 

Future Directions

Add character cards and let players experience being others

Debrief and emphasize psychology theory behind the game

Redesign visual componets and add music components 

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