Enhance your game design with sensory words

Sensory board game design

Each year the game developer Chris Hansen host the Children’s Game Print and Play contest on A contest where you can make a game for kids — together with your own kid. This year I really wanted to take part in the contest again this year. The beauty about this contest is that since you have to make a SIMPLE and FUN game that even kids can play it forces you comply with an important design concept – simplify towards the core experience. Which too me can super difficult.

‘Got it kiddo?’ Illustration by Niklas Hook

The idea I chose to work with is based on a behaviour rooted in human nature — “the Hunt”. I have always wondered why most kids instantly get the adrenaline flowing, smiling and shouting when we shape our hand as a claw and say

now I am coming to get you — you little rascal!!

sometimes you don’t even need to say anything! My goal was clear; could I translate the excitement of a chase or a Hide and Seek to a board game?

‘Hide and Squeak’ — Illustration by Niklas Hook

What adds to the feeling? When I see my kids feet stick out under the bed I usually stomp hard and heavy in the floor while slowly moving closer. So times I mutter “ Wheeeerrree is she hiiidinng?” The fact that the kid feel like she is hidden but know any movement or sound could giver her away and let the beast capture her and then… Well that’s another thing — they don’t think rational on what happens if they are caught. Is anything happening ?— will I be tickled….eaten maybe?

In my search for a core mechanic I found — Onomatopoeia! Words that imitate the sounds they refer to, like purrr or bang. Not only would using Onomatopoeia make a fun hidden move game but it would build on the imagination of sounds which I later realised is a perfect match when trying to build immersion in a paper game.


I will send my readers a PNP of the game when it is done. If you haven’t already – you can sign up here


In my further search for sound words to use, I realised how important the use of sensory detail can be to game design. Sensory words is words related to all our senses  like sight, hearing, touch etc. Using sensory detail in your text will light up different parts of the reader’s brain compared to non-sensory words.  Like writing  ‘The dark n’ damp Catacombs’ compared to just ‘The Catacombs’.


Read the full story on Medium here and give it a clap 🙂

Trick on visualy formatting your data sheet

Google Sheets is increasingly becoming my go to tool in game design. It is a great way to get an overview of your game data, do quick changes and calculate on balance. But sometimes it can be too crowded to get a quick overview. Sometimes it can be nice to get a visual aid to indicate when row of a new type of cards starts or see how many positive versus negative effects you got. And to do this there is a little trick called “Conditional formatting” found in the menu under “Format”. This let you select a text, word og value to look for in your cells that you then can define a special color styling for.

In this mini video example I show how I use it to mark different resources, and that way I can quickly see which type of resources I use the most.


Cathedraw a roll & write for GenCan’t

GenCon is far away when you live in Denmark. That is why I liked the idea of the GenCan’t Roll&write contest and felt I should make a design for this incredible fun format. This is how I got to start on Cathedraw. It is a game where you draw a Cathedral in 9×9 grid. After finishing the game I wonder if it can be called a Roll&write since it does have some cards that needs to be cut out (optional though). The game is purely about optimising the use of your dice rolls to create most victory point value. If I should do an expansion I would definitely make some bad stuff the player needs to avoid. I will happily try to answer any rule questions you got – just mail or tweet me.



GenCan’t release all games for you to play on their page – and it is a magnificent collection. I am looking forward to play the winning game Welcome to DinoWorld by James O’Connor but I also had an eye on the game ‘Raise The Shields‘ by Lucas Gerlach.

I hope some of you will give Cathedraw a spin and I would love to get any type of feedback.


Go to game page


Files for game

(Sing up for the newsletter to get a code to download the full color & multiplayer version for free.)


Thank you,

Niklas Hook

How to play video

7 visuals styles that I would like to see in the future

7 visual styles I would love to see used for board games

The visual style of a game can make just as much of a difference as the choice of theme that a creator choose. Within animation and video games, there have been a wide exploration of different visual styles.


Bound from Plastic Studio


Board games has a tradition for classic illustrational work topped with some graphic design. Probably because games must be decodable for the viewer -high contrast between flavor and information is great.

Read the rest of this entry »