How much does a fat penguin weigh? Enough to break the ice!
Fat Penguin is a card-based drinking game designed to break the ice, make new friends, and laugh with the friends you already have. Perfect for parties, Fat Penguin uses five different types of challenge cards to get players talking, getting to know each other, testing their skills, and add some social lubricant. With each card across these categories relying on players’ creativity and personality, Fat Penguin is different every time!
The game contains –
- 8 x Purple cards
- 8 x Blue cards
- 8 x Green cards
- 8 x Red cards
- 8 x Orange cards
- 1 x Instructions sheet
The cards are made of a lightweight cardboard and encased in standard card sleeves. I’m looking into laminating future prototypes.
Fat Penguin is designed to be played with 3 or more players. To begin, players must read the rules – the ‘Don’t Be A Dick’ rule can be disregarded if all players vote unanimously at the start of the game. Players sit in a circle, preferable where all players can see one another, and take turns selecting a card from the deck in the middle. Each card presents a player with instructions on the activity or challenge they must complete. Some challenges are individual, such as ‘Tongue Twister’, some are team challenges, where the active player chooses a buddy, like ‘Dab It!’ and some are group challenges, like ‘Ring of Truth’. Once a player has completed their card and/or incurred the penalty, they place it face-up at the bottom of the deck and play proceeds to the left.
Fat Penguin is part of the drinking game genre. Borsari (2004) and Zamboanga et al (2007) examine the heterogeneity of drinking games and outline six categories within the genre of drinking games – “motor skills, verbal skills, gambling games, media games, team games, and consumption games” (Borsari 2004, 31). By this existing system of classification, Fat Penguin is a verbal game, motor skills game, and team game. It also calls on players to be creative and calls on media references for some challenges. It is not, however, a media game as per the classifications of Borsari or Zamboanga et al. as it does not require a predetermined piece of media with rules to accompany it.
Details and Mechanics
The five categories of Fat Penguin cards are green Truth Cards, blue Memory cards, purple Creative cards, red Physical Challenge cards, and orange Prop cards. These categories were designed to encourage conversation and help players share stories and facts about themselves in a fun and friendly environment. The goal of having different colours for different categories is to make the game customisable for each group of players and different scenarios.
Green Truth cards
Green Truth cards are designed to encourage players to talk about themselves. In previous play tests, the green ‘2 Truths 1 Lie’ card has proven to be one of the most popular in the deck.
Blue Memory cards
Blue Memory cards test the creativity and memory of players. Some cards use repetition, some encourage players to share information, and some test pop culture knowledge and memory.
Purple Creative Cards
Purple Creative cards encourage players to use their creativity to create a group experience. Of the Creative cards, Story Challenge has been one of the most successful and entertaining in play tests, with players finding unique and unexpected ways to build on stories. Every group of people finds a different way to create something funny and engaging.
Red Physical Challenge cards
Red Physical Challenge cards are a fun physical element of the game that become more difficult as the game goes on. My personal favourite, the Endurance card, was inspired by the way my parents would punish me as a child – only back then, I didn’t have alcohol making it more difficult!
Orange Prop Cards
Orange Prop cards use extra items not included with the game, such as a pack of regular playing cards, or empty drink cans or cups, to make mini-games within Fat Penguin. Players must mix luck and skill to succeed!
The original post detailing the card types can be found here.
My design process began with setting my basic player experience goals (Fullerton & Hoffman 2008, 11). I wanted to create a drinking game without all the ‘bad bits’ of other drinking games – getting way too drunk, feeling pressured to drink, not being able to participate for physical reasons, over-competitiveness, and plenty more. I wanted a friendly, inclusive game. As part of this, I decided not to include a win mechanism in the game. The player experience goals were to make friends and have fun, as well as to engage creatively with other players. Aesthetically, I wanted my game to be simple, colourful, cheerful, and fun, and not require a lot of materiality – just the deck of cards.
Design process – prototyping and playtesting
Fat Penguin has been the result of a process of ideation, rapid prototyping, and iteration. The iterative design process is cyclical, and ‘alternates between prototyping, play testing, evaluation, and refinement” (cited in Eladhari & Ollila 2012, 392). My development process has involved a long series of prototypes, playtests, feedback, and change. There have been four playtests with new iterations during and after each one, and the game is now on its second prototype.
I began my ideation process with a super rough prototype. Using coloured paper, I decided on the five categories of the game, and that different colours for each category would make the game customisable for different groups of players. I brainstormed with Chris and my classmates and wrote down examples of each category.
The first prototype was made rapidly on the online platform Go Deck Yourself. Using thin coloured cardboard and the labour of my loving housemates, I constructed a simple prototype containing 20 cards, 4 from each category, with some duplicates.
The first playtest happened the night after my first ideation phase, to demonstrate the rapid prototyping Fat Penguin went through. There were 11 playtesters, some close friends and others who’d never met. Feedback was largely positive with some suggestions about aesthetics. Players also contributed by writing in new cards to add to the deck on blank cards that I’d made for that purpose.
During this initial playtest, there was minor damage to a couple of cards, leading me to investigate the price and practicality of laminating future prototypes.
A highlight reel of that first playtest can be seen here.
The second playtest was with my family my boyfriend. This was an opportunity to playtest Fat Penguin across age ranges (23-52) and within a family setting.The game had variety and good cohesion. However, there was a dispute between players about the subject/content of a joke made during gameplay, leading to a revision of the rules. I felt this was a necessary revision to meet my original player experience goals. Players also suggested changes to card mechanics.
I felt an in-class playtest was the perfect opportunity to test whether the game could be played both with strangers and sober. Feedback was positive and I now have a better social relationship with all players. Playtesters gave useful feedback about adjusting the reward mechanics for a couple of ambiguous cards, and made some great suggestions. As a result of this playtest, many cards were adjusted and a couple were added to the next iteration.
The third playtest was at a friend’s birthday. The conditions of this playtest were similar to the first – about half of us were close friends, while the other half hadn’t met us before. This playtest was incredibly helpful to refining mechanics and producing new cards. The players who had been part of the first playtest confirmed that the mechanic changes in this iteration were much more clear and rewarding.
After four play tests, each with their own new iterations of Fat Penguin, I decided to begin the next prototype. I chose a new aesthetic to increase the visibility and readability of the cards. I opted to use the Open Dyslexia font to make the game more accessible, in line with my original goals and the inclusive spirit I wanted Fat Penguin to have. I also added a range of new cards to each category, bringing the total number of cards to 40 – 8 unique cards in each of the 5 categories.
Artwork and Visual Design
The image used for my card backs is an open license cartoon image found on OpenClipArt. As it’s licensed for commercial use without attribution, it was perfect for my prototypes but leaves me open to plagiarism when Fat Penguin goes to market. As such, I have started looking at graphic designers to produce a new image that I can license for the next prototype. My budget for graphic design is $50-100 as I’m only looking for a single image.
After the first prototype, due to feedback from playtesters, I opted for white cards with coloured borders to increase visibility and readability in low-light playing environments. I chose the OpenDyslexic font, an open-source open-license font, to make the game more inclusive, in line with my original design goals and player experience goals.
Production and Distribution Plan
Fat Penguin will likely be produced and distributed in the future as a print-and-play game through platforms such as Itch.io and as a box set through print-on-demand platforms such as The Game Crafter. I will also be looking into the costs of producing editions myself for local orders.
- Print and play – pricing will probably fall between $2 and $5 AUD depending on popularity. The labour of creating the game is more or less finished.
- Print on demand – price of production through The Game Crafter is approximately $5.63 as per their pricing sheet. At that price of production, the price point of the game would likely be around $10. Further research into print on demand retailers is needed.
- Self publish for local distribution
- Paper per sheet – $0.01
- Cost of printer ink per sheet – $0.05
- Laminator pouches – $0.20 each
- 10 sheets at $0.60 total, 40 lamintor pouches at $8 total
- Approx. $8.60 production cost per deck, retail at $15
Pricing structures shown above are targeted at maximising the reach of the game – pricing may change if Fat Penguin gains popularity.
The target market is players aged 18-35.
I plan to create a Facebook page and dedicated WordPress blog for the promotion of Fat Penguin. The WordPress will include the blogs submitted previously detailing the production process, as well as the full ruleset and a link to purchase a print-and-play copy.
I’m also hoping to approach the local franchise of Good Game to see if they’d be willing to include a copy of Fat Penguin as a prize for future tournaments, to increase the reach of the game via word of mouth. I’m also planning to approach the convenors of the Nerd Cave in Sydney to ask if they would be willing to include a copy of Fat Penguin for use in their lock-in nights as this would reach my target demographic in my target setting – young people who don’t know each other coming together to play games and drink alcohol.
More research is needed regarding marketing.
Fat Penguin started as an assignment and has become a passion project. I’m excited to see what it can become in the future and hope to take it to market by the end of the year. Overall, it’s been a wonderful experience and the process of making the game has also helped me make new friends.
Borsari, B 2004, ‘Drinking Games in the College Environment: A Review’, Journal Of Alcohol And Drug Education, 48, 2, p. 29-52
Eladhari, MP, & Ollila, EI 2012, ‘Design for Research Results: Experimental Prototyping and Playtesting’, Simulation & Gaming, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 391-412.
Fullerton, T, Swain, C, & Hoffman, S 2008, ‘Game design workshop a playcentric approach to creating innovative games, 2nd edn., CRC Press, Cambridge, Mass
Fullerton, T 2014, ‘Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games’, Third Edition, CRC Press, Cambridge, Mass
Jensen, G 2013, ‘Making Sense of Play in Video Games: Ludus, Paidia, and Possibility Spaces’, Eludamos. Journal for Computer Game Culture, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 69-80
Moini 2013, ‘Drunk penguin’, OpenClipArt, 5 Feb 2013, accessed 25/3/2017 https://openclipart.org/detail/174834/drunk-penguin
Zamboanga, B, Calvert, B, O’Riordan, S, & McCollum, E 2007, ‘Ping-pong, endurance, card, and other types of drinking games: are these games of the same feather?’, Journal Of Alcohol & Drug Education, 51, 2, pp. 26-39