Are you a new designer struggling with putting together instructions? Do you routinely have players looking confused and frustrated getting to know your game? This video gives some basics steps to putting together clear, effective instructions.

Instructions: A Game’s Gateway

Eduardo Baraf is a game maker from Mountain View, California. He is married with two boys (5/8) and loves playing games with his family and friends at home. He owns Pencil First Games (Lift Off! Get me off this Planet, The Siblings Trouble, GemPacked Cards) and runs the YouTube channel: Edo’s Game Reviews. Professionally his career spans Video Games, Startups, and VR technology.

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  1. Lewis Pulsipher on June 7, 2017

    Well done. Good advice especially about taking photos.

    A game is an agreed-on set of constraints. Rules provide most of those constraints. Bad rulebook, no playable game.

    Many designers fail to test the reference capability of rules as they test the game. When a question comes up during play, even though you know the answer (or think you do!), don’t rely on your memory, look for it in the rules. If it isn’t there, or if you can’t find it quickly, your rules need work! I don’t even try to memorize all the rules of the my games (15-20 playtested each year). I’ve heard of designers who do one game at a time, and memorize all the rules, but they’re missing the chance to test the written rules.

    I confess, I think of rules-writing the way Glenn Cook (author of the Black Company series and many other novels) thinks about grammar:
    “Every craftsman has to know and take care of his tools. No, the editor is not going to fix it for you. Whatever you think, that isn’t her job. If you can’t write a coherent sentence, can’t spell, can’t punctuate, use grammar like you were raised by toads, your masterpiece is going to be rejected before the first reader gets to the second page.”

    For just about “every single thing” you need to do for writing game rules, I offer a (not-free) course on It’s about six hours. “How to Write Clear Rules (and game design documents)”

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