US $19.97

How to Write Clear Rules (And Game Design Documents)

——   Created by Lewis Pulsipher

Poorly written published rules can ruin a tabletop game. Rules/design documents may be the hardest part of game design.

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2h 50m
Lesson time
Skill level

More about this course

If you're doing it right, one of the hardest parts of game design is writing clear rules. If you mess it up, your game will be a dud, no matter how good the actual game is - because it won't be played correctly. How to write rules varies with your audience - of course. Polish the rules as you playtest.

If you're designing a video game for other people to produce (program, art, sound, etc.) then you have to write very clear game design documents if you want things to work as you envision.

This course is primarily about writing formal rules for games, usually tabletop games, but writing a game design document requires similar skills, as it must explicitly describe every possible interaction between player(s) and machine.


A other great course from Dr. Lewis Pulsipher. This is an one of a kind course on Arbington (and the internet) about how to write rules for tabletop (board) games. All the do's and don'ts are discussed and more. From this course you will get some great tips if your planning to make a tabletop game your self. Highly recommend to watch. The teacher talks very clear and is easy to follow.

Jimmy Voskuil

Recommendation (from email to me):

"Last year I entered one of my games in the international Hippodice boardgame competition in Germany. Unfortunately I didn't make it to the final but did make it through to the first 33 (out 150) which meant it was playtested.

They were so good as to give me some test results feedback a few months later. One of the most positive points was with regard to the rules!

So I just wanted to thank you because by following your rules course, I picked up many things which improved the rulebook before I sent it off. Now I just need to use their feedback to improve the game some more - its overall score was good just not good enough for the final!"

Mark Bethell

Who this course is for:
  • Tabletop game designers (and wannabes)
  • Video game designers who use game design documents

49 Lessons

3 mins
What you'll discover
free preview
4 mins
How this class works
What's the purpose of written game rules?
7 mins
The Tabletop Ideal would be ...
3 mins
The Video Game Ideal would be ...
4 mins
What are the objects, what are you really trying to accomplish?
6 mins
Game design documents - and alternatives
3 mins
Satisficing - the "enemy" you're faced with
4 mins
Writing: put yourself in the reader's place (and try some "odd" readers!)
5 mins
Call a Spade a Spade - write plain English
3 mins
The "best" way varies with the audience!
4 mins
And exercise - write rules for a well-known classic game
6 mins
The differences between mechanics, rules, and descriptions - and game design docs
Writing the rules
View more lessons +

About the instructor

Lewis Pulsipher
Lewis Pulsipher
  • 1 student
  • 5 courses

Dr. Lewis Pulsipher (Wikipedia: "Lewis Pulsipher"; "Britannia (board game)"; "Archomental" ) is the designer of half a dozen commercially published boardgames. His game "Britannia" is …

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Class benefits

  • Certificate of Completion
  • 30 day satisfaction guarantee
  • 24/7 streaming access
  • Direct teacher access
  • 2h 50m of on-demand video
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