Games (synonyms: matches, competitions; mythonyms: laser-chess, the game of lords and ladies, beggar’s dice) are a cultural universal – every culture on Earth plays some form of game. So it is not surprising that creating new fictional games is a common occurrence in worldbuilding. Some worldbuilders go so far as to create fully functional games, though that is by no means a necessity. Games in fictional worlds can often be found at the dark corner tables of fantasy taverns.
Designing Fictional Games
Incorporating World-Specific Elements
A fantastic world may give rise to a fantastic game. If your world contains magic, consider how it may be incorporated into any newly constructed game. If your world takes place in space, consider how zero gravity may impact game play. If this game is played by an alien species, think about how the pieces are designed with their physiologies in mind.
- Games may be played solo, against a single other player, or with a team.
- Games may be symmetrical (both sides have the same pieces and information) or asymmetrical.
- Games may have some form of luck involved, or have no luck involved.
Are there places in your world where players gather to play or watch these games transpire?
Fictional Game Archetypes
- Dice Games
- Card Games
- Puzzle Games
- Marble Games
- Computer Games
- Virtual Reality Games
- Games of Dexterity
- Games of Strength
- Games of Strategy
- Children’s Games
Often fictional games are a reflection of the fictional culture that plays them: more ‘cerebral’ cultures may play strategy games, cultures that prioritize the community may have more team-based games.
Wizard Chess from Harry Potter, Stealth Chess from Discworld Holochess (dejarik) from Star Wars, and Three-Dimensional Chess from Star Trek are all examples of fictional versions of chess.