Game Design and 3D Printing – A Perfect Partnership

Inherent to the 3D printing revolution are several amazing design
aesthetics that are ideal for prototyping toys in the game category.

Whether your game time involves traditional board games like Monopoly and Clue or you are an RPG (Role Playing Game) enthusiast engaged in dice-based fantasy like Dungeons and Dragons; the application of 3D printing can be a perfect fit.

Let me explain!

Perhaps you are a game designer looking to find ways of adding unique playing pieces to you game prototype. A quick review of existing board games provides a clear insight into how 3D printing can offer a great path to success.

The Aesthetics of Game Piece Design

No matter the board game, playing pieces have two key features that make them ideal for 3D printing:

1) Game tokens are never articulated

2) They are always a single bright color

Why is this? Functionally, these two design parameters have
been part of the manufactured gaming category for decades because both design
choices make the playing pieces simple to move around the board and visually
stand out to each of the players.

Whether one is looking at the “pawns” of Sorry or the silver object pieces of Monopoly, the essential play pattern of a board game requires players to easily identify all of the objects on the board (or “field”). And because board games require a higher cognitive level (compared to building blocks or action figures/dolls) the market is almost always an older child or adult, removing much of the risk of toy safety issues.

Not Just Classic Games, But Ancient Games!

Even going back to ancient games like Chess, the success and popularity of the board game was directly dependent on players being able to quickly recognize both their own pieces and their opponents. Likewise, visual identification within your own pieces is just as essential. Reviewing a Chess set, while the material for the pieces can vary from metal, porcelain, wood to plastic; the shape of the individual pieces are unique.

Like the colors of the two opposing “armies,” shape in game pieces like Chess help players (and spectators) to quickly identify each type of piece and likewise their unique abilities/moves. A queen’s silhouette looks nothing like a rook, and good luck mixing up a knight and a pawn visually!

An even more simplistic example that also supports the need
for uniform shape and color is Checkers – or even Chinese Checkers. Both games
consist of “armies” of a single color attempting to outwit the opponent’s
pieces and move across a game field. Unlike Chess, Checkers in all of its forms
has one unified shape for all of the pieces. Color is the single factor used to
identify your team versus your opponents.

In modern manufacturing and licensing, there have been a
fantastic amount of Chess and...