Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Scott Rogers, Game Designer on Patreon!

I now have a Patreon page!

There are three extremely reasonable tiers (The Scholar of the Black Notebooks, Guardian of the Components and Champion of the Prototypes) which get you get access to behind-the-scenes of the game design process, exclusive video content, you can help me design a game and every month, a PRINT AND PLAY GAME for you to play at home!

Some of the PRINT AND PLAY GAMES include "I am NOT the Werewolf" - a fun werewolf variant, SCRAM! - a light and fast strategic game and PIZZATOWN - a pick-up and deliver game for the whole family! 

To JOIN, just click on the link below! I appreciate your support in advance and look forward to having you join in on the fun!

Join Scott's Patreon!

Sunday, April 5, 2020

The "Younger Sibling Effect"

While I'm past middle age, I don't consider myself THAT old. However, once in awhile I find myself wondering about the actions of the younger generations and one of them that perplexes me the most is: why would they rather watch someone play a video game than play it?

Now, I realize more people than ever before are playing video games and there are more video game systems and games "out there" for players to enjoy. I also understand that as everyone gets older and has more responsibilities that they don't have as much time to play all of the games they would like to.

However, as someone who literally grew up with the history of video games (yes, I remember playing Pong at at a gym my parents went to) I would always rather play a game than watch someone else play it. I remember being a kid and being impatient for my turn to get my hands on the controller.

Then I made a realization.

The younger generations are the younger brothers and sisters (and the children) of the generation who grew up playing video games. And what did us older siblings (and parents) make them do? We made them watch us playing games. They got used to making the act of watching others play entertaining for them as well. Maybe it was a survival method. Maybe there was just more opportunities to watch someone play a game (via YouTube and Twitch and spectator modes) Maybe they grew to like watching others playing games. Whatever the case, it is now a "thing". (it has been a thing for quite some time just some of us are slower to embrace it.)

While I would still rather play games that watch them, I feel I understand why the "younger generation" likes to watch games a little more now.


If you have been following my blog, you know that I've been researching games to play using the ZOOM video conference platform. While many have been figuring out how to play already published games, others have been creating new games.

I came across an interesting article about students at USC creating games for the platform. You can read it here. Inspired, and already possessing a good deal of knowledge about what ZOOM can and cannot do, I decided to design my own game form ZOOM called SPACEMEN IN DANGER.

Feel free to share this free game with your friends, and hopefully, they will enjoy playing it too! If you enjoy playing this game, you can join my Patreon where I create a new Print and Play game each month.


Spacemen in Danger!
A ZOOM role playing party game for 3 to 20 players
by Scott Rogers

SPACEMEN IN DANGER is a hilarious role playing party game where one player is SPACEMAN* with a problem. The other players are MISSION CONTROL who help them solve it with their household items. But with malfunctioning audio, the spaceman can only guess how it could help. Guess correctly to score points and win!


Each player takes turns being a SPACEMAN who is on a space station orbiting Earth. The other players are MISSION CONTROL.

The Spaceman player may set their virtual background to a space station interior

At the start of their turn, the Spaceman describes, in detail, a DANGER that has happened to them on the space station to the Mission Control players. The problem can be serious or silly, that is up to the player.


·      A micro-asteroid punctured the hull

·      The retro-rockets mis-fired

·      A dangerous solar-flare is approaching the station

·      The toilet won’t flush

·      The station broke orbit and is hurtling towards Earth

·      The station’s artificial gravity is off

·      Partner’s tether broke during a spacewalk

·      The station has run out of Tang orange drink

·      Solar panel needs to be repaired

·      Helmet is starting to fill up with water

·      The station’s AI has gone rogue

·      An alien has invaded the station

The other players are MISSION CONTROL. HOWEVER, thanks to COSMIC RADIATION, Mission Control is having problems with their communications and they cannot be heard by the astronaut. All Mission Control Players must set their ZOOM AUDIO SETTING to MUTE.

Mission Control has to solve the problem with something around the house

Once the Spaceman has described their problem, the MISSION CONTROL players have 30 SECONDS (One-one-hundred, Two-one-hundred,…) to find an SINGLE OBJECT at their location (home, etc.) that will be used to help the spaceman with their trouble. They then take turns DESCRIBING TO THE SPACEMAN how they must use the item to help them with their problem.

Will you help the Spaceman solve their problem in time?

THE SPACEMAN will then PICK ONE of the player’s items and describe back the SOLUTION. If they have closely described the use of the item, then they get 1 POINT. If they accurately described the solution they get 3 POINTS. The MISSION CONTROL player whose solution was picked gets 2 POINTS.

Once everyone has had a chance to be a SPACEMAN, the player with the most points wins!
*Spaceman refers to a player of any gender.

Friday, April 3, 2020

13 tips for playing WEREWOLF over Zoom

As I continue to explore games that play best via video conferencing, I wanted to experience playing Werewolf -  the social deduction game that is commonly played this way around the world. For those of you who are new to this game, these are the rules of a "basic" game of Werewolf:

Players are given a role at the beginning of the game – either as a Villager person or a Werewolf. A third of the players should be Werewolves. The goal is for one faction to survive the game – which means the complete destruction of the other faction.

The game happens over a series of “days” in which there is a distinct day and a night phase. Play is moderated by an impartial narrator who guides the players through the phases. During the night phase, all players close their eyes. The Werewolf members open their eyes to acknowledge each other and then indicate which of the Villages they will kill – either on paper or by pointing at the chosen victim. The Werewolves need to come to a consensus on a victim.

The day phase starts as all players open their eyes to find the victim dead. The players must then choose to execute a player – with the goal of uncovering a Werewolf. The players all have a few minutes to discuss and debate which player should be chosen. Accusations are made and innocence is defended. Evidence against other players are often shaky at best. If the group reaches a consensus, that chosen player is “executed” and reveals if they are honest or a Werewolf. However, it is possible to execute an honest player instead, reducing their numbers. If the group cannot come to a consensus or after a player has been executed, the night phase begins again, with the remaining Werewolves choosing another victim. 

Play continues in this way until either all Werewolves are executed or there is no way for the Villagers to win. A victory is shared, if either Werewolves or Villagers win, everyone on that team wins.

 In the advanced game, "special characters are added: Cupid who makes two characters fall in love and if one dies, the other "kills themselves" out of grief, a Hunter who when killed, can shoot and kill one other player, A Fortune Teller who may secretly ask the moderator if a player is a werewolf, the Little Girl who may peek during the night phase but if caught is killed and the Witch who has two potions, one that saves and one that kills and may use them once during the game.

 If you want to learn more about the history of Werewolf (and Mafia, the game that it is based on) I suggest listening to my Biography of a Boardgame podcast:

 There are many versions of Werewolf available for purchase and there are literally hundreds of special roles that can be added to the game. If you are new to the game, I suggest only using the roles  mentioned above.

For this experiment, I played two sessions with 11 players (and myself as the moderator). The first game, we played "basic" Werewolf - with three werewolves and the rest of the players as villagers. The second game we added in the "special" characters - Cupid, The Hunter, Fortune Teller, Little Girl and the Witch. Both games played well, but we found some things to consider when player via Zoom or any other video conferencing system.

 13 tips playing Werewolf over video conferencing systems:

  1.  If you are the Moderator, use chat to distribute roles – make sure you select "private" before sending!
  2. It's easy to accidentally send a message to the wrong user - take your time when sending a message!
  3. Let all players talk as non-verbal communication is limited - it might be hard to hear, but the chaos is part of the fun!
  4. "Dead" players should mute their audio line (click on the microphone icon).
  5.   Werewolves only get one vote at night – if there is no consensus, there no death occurs! (and then watch the player's confused faces!)
  6. Use private chat for Werewolves. Even better, have them communicate via Discord or Messenger - separately from Zoom. 
  7. It’s hard to read lips over video conferencing. Werewolves should write down name on paper – but use a sharpie as a regular pen is hard to read via the camera.
  8. Witch and Fortune Teller should use private chat as well to indicate who they are asking about/healing or killing.
  9. The Little Girl character is a very powerful one online... maybe too powerful. It was hard to tell when she was peeking. Some of my students recommended giving the Werewolves a chance to guess who the Little Girl is – much like a Fortune Teller - but I'm not sure if that is the best solution.
  10. Not having a player seen on-screen makes a big difference to the game and gives too many advantages to non-screen players. All players should show their faces.
  11.  It's easy for the moderator to miss a step or sending info to a player. Take your time so you don't make a mistake (but they will happen!)
  12. Unfortunately, Zoom does not support “grouped” chat. Breakout rooms won't work either as they show who "isn't" in the group and therefore give away who is and isn't a Werewolf.
  13. Make player vote simultaneously during the Day Phase to prevent too many "foot dragger" voting.
Regardless of these limitations, we still had fun playing and many of my students said it was the best game we've played yet over Zoom. I hope you get a chance to play Werewolf with some of your friends! Happy gaming! and remember, I am NOT the Werewolf!