I’m reading through the larp design book that came out of the most recent Knutepunkt conference (Larp Design: Creating Role-Play Experiences) and right away Johanna Koljonen comes out and says
EVERYTHING IS A DESIGNABLE SURFACE
…and it is a very challenging and liberating idea. As game designers we’re building experience frameworks, and we are not limited to the traditional bits and bobs in service of that goal. In my own work I often think about ways to challenge accepted practice (“What if you made everyone sit in silence for an uncomfortably long time?”) but Koljonen is urging us to take the opposite approach, to look at every piece of interaction as something that we should consciously choose - or choose not to - design. I think this way of thinking is more prevalent in larp due to the wide-open affordances of the form, but it is equally relevant to tabletop design.
It makes me wonder what designable surfaces we routinely overlook. The category is vast. Few games, for example, care about player seating arrangement, but on the social level it is a huge variable that will impact play. The way you learn a game - the way you learn about a game - is designable.
Let’s talk about interesting designable surfaces.