Abstraction and Representation in Board Games

Another important aspect of developing a board game is analysing the degree of abstraction within the game. And no, this does not mean a tertiary education course in something with open interpretation. Abstraction is referring to the occurrence present when a concept provides the framework for a subordinate concept. Abstraction is the opposite of representation, the reproduction of something with included resemblance. In a board game context, abstraction means that the games theme and context does not have a real world equivalent (Moore, C & Hall, R 2018).

Example of an abstract piece vs a representational piece

Regarding my individual game which I discussed in last weeks post, the degree of abstraction is quite low with a much larger element of representation present. For example, the main theme of my game is the hypebeast fashion culture, which definitely has a real world equivalent being the real life individuals who invest themselves in being active participants in this culture.

Example of hypebeast fashion outfits

To update the prototyping and playtesting that has occurred during the further development of my game, I have drafted a game rules sheet and had play testers give their feedback on the current game prototype. The current game rules are:

1. Minimum 3 players required
2. Each player selects 2 cards from each category (tops, bottoms, shoes and accessories)
3. Players are also allocated one plain T-shirt card (black and white)
4. The eldest player will begin as the first outfit judge, meaning they will not participate in the first round
5. Other players must now use one card from each category to create an outfit
6. The outfit judge must choose a winner
7. Players must put the cards they used for their outfit at the bottom of the piles (keep plain T-shirt card if played), and select one new card from each category
8. The player sitting to the left of the outfit judge becomes the outfit judge for the following round
9. Players may choose a number of round wins required to win the game, or just play for fun.
10. If a participant plays a card from the ‘tops’ category which is a jacket, they may play their white or black T-shirt card to help with outfit flow.

Certain rules will be modified as game development continues. For example a max players number will be identified when I know the amount of cards I create for the final product, this will also modify the starting cards rule. Feedback from play testers included to create a different colour card to identify each category, rather than listing T, B, S and A on the top of each cards.


In addition, it was also identified that playing the game is quite enjoyable if at least one person playing understands the hypebeast fashion culture and can explain each clothing item and its context to any players who aren’t aware of the culture. This feedback was valuable as it allowed me to understand that even players who aren’t apart of the niche audience the game is targeted at can still enjoy the gameplay.

Header image source


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