Patrick Curry’s Thoughts on Game Design

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March 19th, 2006

Game Idea #12: Family Album

This week’s game idea is designed specifically for my Grandma. Enjoy!

High Concept:

Family Album is a game that turns your collection of digital photos into a series of fun puzzle games. Simple games suddenly become more meaningful and more rewarding because you and your loved ones are the stars.


Nintendo DS

Why it needs to be made:

There’s been a lot of talk about the “grey gamer” market lately. As the first generation of gamers enters retirement, there will be even more demand for approachable games to help them fill up their free time. There’s no reason why these games can’t also help them flex a few brain cells too.


Family Album is designed to be the ultimate gift for the retired gamer in your family. The first step is you purchase the game, and pre-load it with digital photos of you and your family. Along with the photos you can include short captions including the names of those in the photos, the locations, and the dates the photos were taken. Once the images and their metadata have been loaded into the game, you have the option of recording short audio captions for them, like “this is us on our white-water rafting trip!”

When you have the game fully loaded, you simply gift-wrap the DS with the game included, and give it to a loved one. Now, grandma can play a series of simple games based on the photos you pre-loaded for her. Some of the games would only use the photos: slide puzzles, concentration games, and solitaire card games. But other games would use your meta-data, like “pick out all of the pictures of Tim” or “put these photos in chronological order.”

Why it will be fun:

Looking at family photos is a fun activity, and solitaire card games are by far some of the most popular videogames online and off. And I’m willing to bet that seeing pictures of your grandkids as you play these games would make them more fun, more meaningful, and more personal. And once you get tired of them, you can reload the game with a new set of family photos, or even download a new set of mini-games to compliment the original set.

Final thoughts:

The Nintendo DS is the only console I would feel comfortable handing to my grandmother. A touch-screen removes almost all abstraction from the user-interface, so there’s even less room for confusion, mistakes, or other un-fun activities. And when I tried hard to think of a game that I would want to present to my grandma, Family Album was the clear winner.

2 Responses to “Game Idea #12: Family Album”

  1. Erin commented:
    posted March 28th, 2006 at 7:16 am

    I think my parents (in their mid-50s) and my little sisters (11 and 13 years old) would love this game! I can see them fighting over who gets to play it. Sadly, my grandma doesn’t know what video games are. But she does LOVE family photos, so this game would definitely be the one shot at making her a gamer. Plus she was just telling me this weekend that she looks for men to date/marry who are good with bridge and crossword puzzles because it wards off Alzheimers. A good puzzle game would seem to do that too.

  2. Thores commented:
    posted September 15th, 2006 at 1:45 am

    So I just discovered this site today and am now reading through all your ideas. A lot of them are REALLY GREAT! My favorite so far is “Work of Art”, but I’m sure that may change when I go beyond Idea #12.

    Anyways, Wii’s “Photo Channel” feature, which was revealed earlier today, reminds me a WHOLE FREAKING LOT of your Photo Channel idea. It comes complete with Doodling and SLIDE SHOW minigames, for one. I don’t know if someone at Nintendo has been reading your blog or not, but obviously this must have been a solid idea. : ]

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