Projects / Games Atelier: Tangent

Games Atelier: Tangent is a game design program at OCAD University. Students develop critical game design skills through weekly game jams structured around a card-based creative prompting system.


View the complete Instructions for the game at

Games Atelier: Tangent is a semester-long game design course for second year students in the Digital Futures program at OCAD University. The course develops rapid ideation and prototyping skills through a playful “Game Jam a Week” structure guided by a brainstorming card deck adapted from the system developed for Reality.

Each “round” of the game begins with the Atelier Leaders issuing a project-making Challenge. The particular constraints of these Challenges vary from week to week. Some Challenges are solo, while others are for teams of 2 or more. Within the constraints of the Challenge, students work alone or in small groups o create a unique conceptual framework (or “prompt”) for their projects, using custom-made Tangent game cards. This framework specifies formal, technical, and thematic elements that students must incorporate into their game projects (see example prompt below).

“Make a Board Game about the Future regarding Disease involving Defending and a Locked Box and using a Sensor System”

Once students come up with a prompt they find inspiring, they have one week to create, document (via a blog post), and present their work. Once they have presented their finished project, students are scored, a winner is selected, and wooden “unicoins” are distributed to students based on their performance. These coins can then be used as units of exchange among the students: final grades will factor in the total amount of physical coins a given student has at the end of the semester.

The initial run of Games Atelier: Tangent produced over 40 unique games (see the gallery above, or check out the links to player documentation on the game’s Twitter feed, @atelierunicorn), several of which have gone on to have life outside the class at festivals and in online contexts.

Project Website

The full Tangent ruleset is viewable at Atelier Unicorn.

The class Twitter feed, which includes links to student work, announcements, and relevant ephemera, is at @atelierunicorn.


Program design: Simone Jones, Adam Tindale, Jeff Watson
Card system design: adapted from Reality Ends Here by Jeff Watson, Simon Wiscombe, and Tracy Fullerton.

Tangent/Games Atelier is a project of the OCAD University Digital Futures program.

Gamercamp 2013 Presentation