Off the Grid Special: Game Design 101

Every other week Scott Jon Siegel contributes Off the Grid, a column about card games, board games, and everything else non-digital.

For nearly two years now, Off the Grid has introduced (and reintroduced) Joystiq's readers to some of the best board and card games on the market. The relationship between our modern video games and their non-digital counterparts is very clear-cut. As Gamelab CEO Eric Zimmerman puts it: "a game is a game is a game."

So for those readers who aspire to create games of their own, it should come as no surprise that non-digital games are a great starting place for honing the craft of game design. With no programming skills required, non-digital game design is an easy way to begin thinking creatively about interaction, without the complicated prerequisities of digital game development.

The best leaping-off point for non-digital game design is with the tools. Most gamers probably already have some fantastic equipment in their closets. So let's look at the basic tools of the trade.