Changing a Course on Development, Part 4

Despite varying degrees of success in my first-year seminar — which I decided to stop teaching — I’m going to again have students design board games based on course content. But I’m going to organize this process differently than before. 

There will be two rounds of game design and each will use SCAMPER, an acronym for a design thinking technique that I will demonstrate with an in-class exercise. In the first round, each student will complete a writing assignment that applies SCAMPER to the California Water Crisis (CWC) game used by Andrew Biro. Here is what SCAMPER looks like in this context:

  • Substitute: what part of the game can be substituted for some other part?
  • Combine: can two separate processes in the game be integrated into one?
  • Adapt: can an aspect of some other game be adapted for use in this game?
  • Modify: can a process that is part of the game be modified, enhanced, or simplified?
  • Put to other use: can a part of the game serve some other function within the game?
  • Eliminate: can any part of the game can be removed/omitted?
  • Reverse: what happens if some process in the game is reversed?

Here are the directions for the first round’s writing assignment:


The CWC game teaches people about the water crisis in California. A different design for the game might enable people to learn more about this topic.


Design a new version of the game by applying at least three elements of SCAMPER.


Write a proposal to Hasbro’s Product Development Division in which you discuss SCAMPER-based changes to the CWC game. Identify what features of the game will change, how they will change, and why these changes are beneficial.

After the writing assignment, students will be clustered into teams for a brainstorming and presentation session, which I have tentatively organized as follows:

  • 5 minutes: each person has 1 minute to pitch their proposal to teammates.
  • 30 minutes: each team builds a presentation of a collective proposal.
  • 25 minutes: presentations.
  • 10 minutes: class debriefing discussion.

Links to the full series of posts on redesigning this course: