The late American designer Paul Rand once said “Without play, there would be no Picasso. Without play, there is no experimentation. Experimentation is the quest for answers.”
That’s sound advice indeed for the many designers who clock long hours in the office. With that in mind, we found five ways for work-obsessed designers to inject some play into their lives. These new and classic tabletop games—made by creatives for creatives—show how one can learn about design, think about design, and even design while having fun.
Typeface Memory Game
Think you know your Univers from your Helvetica? Put your type knowledge to the test by matching the 25 different type families in this deck of 50 cards. Brazilian design studio ps.2 arquitetura + design conceived this game as a self-promotion gift for clients and friends in 2010, but it became so popular that they partnered with BIS Publishers to release it commercially. As a game that teaches players about type, the cards also come with a glossary of terms used in typography as well as a history of the evolution of type design. So far Typeface Memory Game has sold over 5,000 sets worldwide and is now on its second print run.
The Award Winning Game
Advertising awards have been criticized for serving no purpose beyond stroking egos and providing some free marketing. But soon you can win them unapologetically in this upcoming game that “plunges you into the hellish underbelly” of the industry. Bribery, sabotage, and even showing some cleavage are just part and parcel of running an award-winning agency, at least according to Singaporean designers Callison Neo and David Goh. While they recently failed to crowd fund this tongue-in-cheek game about ethics in the advertising industry, the duo are hatching an alternative plan to create a quick and dirty way to win at the Young’Uns Kindergarten and the DeAD.
This is play for design thinkers, according to IDEO. The global consultancy famous for popularizing design thinking created this deck of 51 cards in 2002 so that its staff and clients can have fun while discovering inspiring design solutions. From asking extreme users, like babies, to observing users without interfering, this now classic design game gets players to try out different methods of user-centric design (“Ask, Watch, Learn, Try”) by illustrating how IDEO applies them on a real-life projects. Over 10,000 sets of this design research tool are now in distribution, and it’s also available as an iOS app.
Pablo Picasso once said “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” Take your own shot at greatness in this card game where players plot to steal the most valuable museum artifacts, from a chieftain’s tribal headdress and a T-rex skull to Edvard Munch’s iconic painting, The Scream (actually stolen multiple times in history). As you sneak, swipe, and stash your way to becoming a master thief, you’ll pick up some art history and even strategies on cooperation and competition. This game of heist by designer Jacob Parr and writer Jake Spencer, a duo based in Toledo, Ohio, was successfully crowd funded in just five days, and will be available for purchase in early 2016.
The Modern Architecture Game
Uncover the history of 20th-century architecture through the lens of Le Corbusier’s owlish black frames in this game by NEXT Architects. While still in school, the four partners of the Amsterdam studio created a Trivial Pursuit-style game for modern architecture, and in 2012 they released an international edition that includes questions that go well beyond architecture in The Netherlands. In order to win—and enter architecture’s inner sanctum—players must don Corbusier’s iconic specs while answering questions about architecture history that cover themes such as visuals, architects, projects, styles, influences, and quotes. Answer even a single question incorrectly and you lose not just your turn, but your fancy eyeglasses.