How to (Re)Make a Custom Board Game

comments (3) October 23rd, 2008     

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leethal Lee Meredith, contributor
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Create a playable game featuring your loved ones friends or favorite characters and watch them flip out with excitement!
If you want your game to be super-arty cool, you can paint all over the board, or add other pictures beyond the original spots.
Before adding to the old box, be sure to clean it of thrift store dust.
Create a playable game featuring your loved ones friends or favorite characters and watch them flip out with excitement!

Create a playable game featuring your loved one's friends or favorite characters and watch them flip out with excitement!

Photo: Lee Meredith
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I love board games and am always checking out the game shelves when I go thrift store shopping, so I notice a lot of the old classics getting dusty on those shelves. I've always loved games-I even made up my own when I was a youngster-but even more than games, I love to take old things and turn them into something creative and new. A remade custom, personalized board game would be an amazing gift for the game-lover in your life, and probably pretty cool even for someone who's not a self-proclaimed board-game nerd!

I'm going about this tutorial in a vague manner, in an attempt to make it accessible for any board game you want to reconstruct-I chose Clue for my example because it seemed the most obvious game to personalize. My first vision was for the suspects to be my friends, the places to be our favorite Portland hangouts, and the weapons to be crafty items like knitting needles and scissors. However, for this how-to, I thought the project might be more appealing if more people could relate than me and my few buddies, so I chose to use one of my favorite TV shows, Arrested Development. The suspects became six of the show characters, and the places became locations from the show; I left the weapons the original six because I'm no expert at tiny clay sculpting, but I'd love to see someone make custom weapons!

I'm sure there are tons of other games that would work out great for remaking, and I think it would be awesome to add parts beyond the original game, make it a whole new thing, even write up a new instruction manual! I'm giving you plenty of time to work before gift-giving time is here, so really go crazy! If you want to keep the alterations to a minimum, how about gifting someone a stack of "old" board games that have all had custom work done? My nerdiness is showing, I know!

You'll need:

  • Old board game of your choice with good-for-remaking elements
  • Photos or digital pictures, photo-editing software, photo paper, and a printer
  • Scissors
  • Glue, clear packing tape, and/or decoupage stuff
  • Possibly tracing paper, regular paper, clay for mini-sculptures, or other materials specific to your game needs

So the basic concept is to create new images to tape/glue/decoupage over the game parts. You could use cut-up photos that you already have, magazine pages, etc., or you could use some photo-editing software to edit and size the pictures to fit perfectly in their spaces. I can't give you exact directions for photo editing, since each program handles it differently, but you'll just need to make the pictures the right size, I'd recommend 300 dpi, and then print them out at 100% size. I printed them on photo paper with my photo printer-if you don't have a photo printer, you can take the files somewhere like Kinko's to print them out high-quality.

Make a Custom Board Game
Go through all the different parts of the game-board, cards, box, etc.-and make new pictures for everything.

I'll start with the board: First, cut out all the individual pictures.

Make a Custom Board Game
Don't forget boxes with characters' names or other little spots you might miss-these details will really make a difference.

To seal the new pictures onto the game, I put packing tape over everything, like cheap and easy lamination, but you could also use decoupage or just plain glue. First, though, I glued everything in place with a spot of glue stick to get it all situated. I kept my place pictures within the walls of the original rooms on the board because of image quality (the larger you print out a low-resolution picture, the worse the quality will get). If you wanted to fill the whole room, you could cut out the pictures in exactly the room shapes; just be sure not to hide where the entrances are (the doorways).

Make a Custom Board Game
If you want your game to be super-arty cool, you can paint all over the board, or add other pictures beyond the original spots.

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posted in: paper, recycle, game, pictures, board game

Comments (3)

Average_Jane_Crafter writes: Heeeee! Brilliant! I love seeing the Arrested Development folks take over the game - so cool! And I love how detailed you were able t get using the templates for the cards. Wowza! :)
Posted: 8:17 am on October 24th
MrsEhorn writes: I am in love with this! My husbands birthday is coming up and he is solo getting this game... Who is "hermano"? Her? Hey, brother...

Posted: 11:33 pm on October 23rd
Jen1964 writes: Sounds like fun, and a good surprise. We always enjoyed homemade games the best. You can tweak the rules to really get people going, and enjoying the game is the whole point, isn't it? One warning: not all families have a sense of humor. I'll bet you could alter something as simple as a deck of cards, to make the solitaire crowd happy.
Posted: 10:15 am on October 23rd
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