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Home » News » FSU students turn historic concepts into board games for creative project

FSU students turn historic concepts into board games for creative project

Published June 3, 2022

Design is not all fun and games… but sometimes it is.

Students in Dr. Yelena McLane’s Spring 2022 History II course designed and crafted physical board games that engage players in a design and architectural movement, trend or series of elements as part of a creative student project entitled Fun and Games with History. While its title is lighthearted, the project is quite serious, with goals designed to reinforce history material that students have learned in the History of Interiors I and II, challenge them to critically analyze and interpret architectural and design styles and movements, and give students the opportunity to conduct historic research using a variety of credible academic and non-academic sources.

Students sit at a table. They are playing a colorful board game.

History II students playing the board games they designed.

Students worked in groups of two to create physical games, such as board games, puzzles or trivia games. The teams chose a topic from any era or area of interior design or architectural history, conducted level 1 research (data gathering and processing), and developed content, graphics, objects and packaging for their game. Students were tasked with the creation of a full-scale prototype for the game and demonstrate that it works by playing the game in class.

The games students designed were diverse and vibrant, showcasing their historical knowledge as well as their creative innovation in interpreting the content in a game format. The resulting projects included

  • Murder mystery in the Palace of Versailles in an Art Nouveau mansion,
  • Scandinavian design Jenga, 
  • A 1970s-era American interior design Candyland-inspired game titled Groovyland,
  • Soviet Constructivist Guess Who,
  • Frank Lloyd WrightMonopoly,
  • Memphis Group Monopoly
  • The Life of Organic Architecture challenging players to “build” a sustainable home through learning
  • Diversity in Interior DesignJeopardy, and
  • Bauhaus Chutes and Ladders

Other student groups created board games featuring classical architecture and design elements from antiquity, Renaissance, and the Neoclassical periods such as

  • Classical Collision (Which Era Is It?),
  • Curves of Rococo and Art Nouveau History,
  • The Great Gothic Game featuring the architecture of Medieval cathedrals and churches,
  • Futuristic Visions in 20th Century Design,
  • Scandinavian Modernism Trivia, and
  • Historic movie set designs in the Hollywood Walk of Fame 
Students sit on the floor playing a board game as a professor looks on.

Students try to escape a Pyramid by providing correct answers and sketches about Egyptian architecture and design.

One student group created a game where players had to escape from an Egyptian pyramid by solving riddles, sketching, and answering questions about Ancient Egyptian architecture and design.

Students came away from the experience with more than just an idea of how to craft a game.

“My favorite part of the assignment was the graphic design part and getting to see everything come together,” said Katie Ferris, who partnered with Kayla Reiff in the design of the Memphis Group Design Monopoly.”I also really loved getting to finally play the game with my peers. The game honestly really helped me learn more about design history, especially on which topic we chose to study and base our game on. I think it was a good way to research, learn, and apply knowledge to better help ourselves and others.”

“The most valuable part of the assignment was working collaboratively with someone else,” said student Estafany Busto. “I learned a lot about collaboration and communication as well as about diverse designers and their relevance in today’s design. I learned also about the issue of diversity in the design industry in the U.S. and why this issue needs to be addressed.”

Dr. McLane’s project creatively challenged students to not only internalize historical content, but to synthesize and express it in a new way—much like students will do as they interpret and draw strength from historical precedent in their future careers.