‘Who Left the Windows Open?!’ for Iron Game Designer

A cooperative game where you are kids in a house where the windows have been left open and pests have swarmed in. You have 3 actions per turn, moves, opening and closing doors. You’re running around trying to channel the pests (wasps, snakes, spiders, ants & mosquitos) towards each other as predators attack each other. The threat level rises each turn (nests, swarms, etc).

Colleague Ralf Muhlberger and I teamed up to participate in the 2015 IRON GAME DESIGNER Challenge run by Steve Dee, where participants have two hours to make a board game.  Problems in our competition strategy include going with the idea we were excited by rather than the idea we could produce, test, and then play in the short judging time. So we didn’t win, but we have a game that has legs!

Description of the game on the competition site:

Taking the theme as their title this was another very literal reading. Kids left at home were battling growing threats (in the case of the first and so far only deck, creepy crawlies like snakes and spiders), with the enemies being generated with constant turning decks of cards that get progressively worse. In a lovely twist, however, the kids can’t fight the threat, but only contain it or direct it. Only able to move slowly and open and close doors they need to work together to drive monsters towards each other – and figure out which will cancel out and which will get worse. This is determined by a five-way scissor-paper-rock system which judges feared might be too complicated to solve especially for the family audience the theme suggested. Like Home Intrusion, the designers felt they may have lost too much time to the tyranny of cutting and pasting, but also like Home Intrustion, the literal, immediate and relatable interpretation won points and captured imaginations.



DIY SPY is an improvisational storytelling party game for 3-18+ players. Players are carrying out cooperative mission scenarios in different rooms of your house of office, using whatever objects are around.

GO423_DIYSPY GO423Exhibition

photo (3)

Christy Dena – writing & design
Marigold Bartlett – artist

Mechanic: improvisation, storytelling
Genre: Humour
Platform(s): Board game
Audience: Party, Strangers (ice-breaker)
Playtime: 30+ minutes
Minimum Age: 12+
Theme: Spy
Player numbers: 3-18 players


It was originally conceived as a game that combines digital and live play, continuing my design interest in pervasive games. The original idea: in 5 minutes you use anything available to fulfill your missions and train to be a spy. I then adapted the format to be completely live and for over 18+ players and last about 50mins. I developed a festival version, and am developing a boardgame version.

I came up with the original idea in response to the 22Jams prompt of “make a game where you must be standing in order to play”. I didn’t have the time to create the game for the Jam, but the game stuck with me. Harry Lee of Wanderlands (who recently released their award-winning game Stickets), put out a call for collaborators on game projects. I took my game to Harry and he jumped on board encouraging the game to go ahead. We playtested the game at Harry’s Glitchmark game design event. I’ve since playtested versions at Popup Playground, JunkJam #2Playtest Saturday Afternoon in Melbourne; the GO423 Popup Exhibition at The Powerhouse in Brisbane; various homes and office buildings; a playtest event for IGDA Brisbane; with interaction design and writing students at QUT; colleagues at SAE Media Institute; players at the Boardgames & Beers Meetup (Brisbane); participants at Forward Slash Story; with design feedback from Lorraine Hopping Egan and Matt Parkes (designer of Burger Up). The name of the game was developed with contributors in the Card and Board Game Designers Guild.

It is a super fun game where everyone entertains each other. It works as an ice-breaker game, team-bonding game, and just as a party game with mates.

‘Séance for Lost Stuff’ for PopUp Playground

Séance for Lost Stuff  is a party game for 4 or more players. You arrive at a séance to find that everyone, including yourself, can channel the spirit of a lost object. Your goal is to be the first to find the locations of your own lost objects and pass on the locations you have of others.


The current version is a live festival game. It was created for Pop Up Playground’s 2014 Fresh Air Festival to be run in the tent on Saturday night March 8th, 2014. Although this festival is run predominately outside, I felt drawn to creating an inside game. I liked the idea of doing a comedy séance, and so the idea of communing with lost objects sprung from there.

Since my last game for PUP involved cards, and the one before that involved a phone, I was keen in this game to impose a no-card and no-gadget restriction. There are bits of paper and tokens in this game, but none are especially made. Indeed, all objects are low-fi as part of the theme and aesthetic. Related to this is another aspect I was keen to explore in this game: ritual. I have previously created an experience that involved ritual and wanted to take it even further this time. The rituals in this game are influenced by common rituals in séances, and rituals my mum taught me.

Playtesters include: Deb Polson, Donna Bonde, Lois Spangler, Moya Kate, Truna, Matt Horton, and the final PUP playtesters in Melbourne on Feb 22nd.

PUP_SeancePlaytest220214_3 PUP_SeancePlaytest220214 PUP_SeancePlaytest220214_2



‘Shenanigans’ for SAE Creative Media Institute

Shenanigans is an ambient party game commissioned for my work Christmas party. The organisers wanted some fun game for the staff to play and wanted it to be something accessible for the non-game players in the room. My personal goal was to create a game that anyone could do at any time (ambient), which encouraged co-operation (across different social groups), and which changed the nature of the party substantially (triggered a party atmosphere).

Shenanigans game

I was inspired by Margaret Robinson’s game “Drunken Dungeon” commissioned for NYU 2012 “No Quarter” event. So I used drinks (any kind) as the currency for moving forward. However, I added things like a real world consequence to achievements in the game.

Shenanigans game

The game rules:
1) Party guests are asked to bring a small token to represent themselves on the board (this facilitates investment, ownership, and identity).
2) Players draw a number (1-50) to discover what square they will start on. You could use a 50-sided dice, numbered chips or a random-generator on your phone. I used 100 numbered poker chips and had the players return their chip to the bowl after each draw.
3) In order to move to the next square they have to fill the circles with stickers. Stickers are given at the bar for any drink issued (alcoholic and non-alcoholic). When the circles are filled, any tokens on that square move forward. What happens is people end up placing them on other people’s squares to get them to come closer to an Event square or to fill a row.
4) When anyone lands on an Event square they need to have x3 people/Tokens on the square before they can draw on Event Card (you don’t need stickers). Those 3 (or more) players then do the Event (which could be something they do as a group, or something they get other people at the party to do). Once they do the activity they can move on to the next square.
5) Whenever a full row of Stickers is filled, then the corresponding Surprise is opened. 

Shenanigans game

Things you will need: 

* Print out the board [JPG, PDF, PSD] or make your own (and laminate it if you wish — I did). The art was done by Ellen, using images from the web. So please don’t charge for it.
* Spare tokens & a marker to write initials on them if they look the same.
* Starting square system: 50-sided dice, numbered discs, random-generator on your phone.
* Stickers to fill the circles on the board.
* x10 Surprises that affect everyone at the party. (Examples include: a box of popping streamers; fake beards; tinsels necklaces; mini-water guns; bubbles; popping plastic…). You will need to label the surprises with numbers (1-10).
* Write up Event Cards (we used 5 events over 3 hours). See ideas below.
* Some spare presents to reward those that win any Events you write (according to whether the group or individuals win).

Ideas for Event Cards: you can change the Surprises and Events according to the theme of your party. The design principle is you create Events that affect the party in some way, and mix up having the Event involve those that draw the card and also having them grab other people from the party to do it. Some examples: 

– Everyone on this square is to grab another person each from the room and get them to dance the Reindeer Dance (you have to make up the moves for them)
– Everyone on this square will a approach a group at the party and challenge them to a multiplayer thumb wrestle…
– Everyone on this square is to take over DJing and get people dancing
– If you’re having trouble coming up with Events, check out Hide & Seek’s Tiny Games app for great ideas.

I hope you enjoy the game! Let me know if you play it, and especially if you adapt the game in any way. I would love to hear your ideas and see how the game develops!