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Gameplay Mechanic a Month: Storytelling

Month 5 - May 2013

Storytime cards

Mechanic Description:

This month I wanted to create an in-person collaborative game that uses the major strengths of this medium when compared with digital games: telling stories and thinking creatively.

The game uses cards from another card game, called Dixit. The Dixit cards have beautiful pictures on them. These pictures look like they could be from an imaginary world's fairytales. The images instantly draw you in and encourage players to consider what is going on in the cards and what story the picture is telling.

We created a large number of cards with sentences on them. These sentences act as captions for the picture cards. Players create matches of picture cards with caption cards (or vice versa) and build a story around that framework. The main mechanic for selecting cards is similar to "Cards against Humanity" where one player chooses their favourite card from the cards that other players have suggested. The structure of having cards allows players to be creative, but doesn't intimidate them with a blank canvas.

Playable in the following game:






Game Description:

Create a story with friends using picture and word cards. Take turns at being the storyteller. Embellish the story and help it end the way you want it to. Gather some friends with a set of Dixit cards and the caption cards.

In each round, one player is the "storyteller". When it is your turn, choose either a picture card or a word card and the other players choose the opposite type of cards to give to you that they believe match to your card. You choose your favourite and contribute to the story using the newly formed picture-caption cards pair. As the game progresses you as a group develop the story further and let it go where you want it to. The game ends when someone says the magic words "The End". There is no winner, players simply enjoy creating a story together.


Beginning Card

Begininng Card

Some cards help the story begin.

Example Caption Card

Example Card

Other cards have sentences on them which help players create interesting stories.

Deck Setup

Deck Setup

When playing you'll have the Dixit deck, the beginnings card deck and the normal captions deck.



The deck you can buy from The Game Crafter contains 108 caption cards.

Example Game

Exmaple Game

An example game.

Example Game

Example Game

An example game.

Gameplay Instructions:

Buy Dixit cards, then get the caption cards and instructions below. Set up a table where you can place the matches of picture and word cards next to each other. By the end of the game you will have the cards laid out next to each other in a linear story.


To play this game you'll need some Dixit cards as well as the game cards with the words on them.


This month I worked with Kelley Harris and Meghan Heritage to develop this game and gameplay mechanic.


An analysis of the gameplay mechanic written by me in March 2015.

This was a quick little game I put together with an artist friend and a writer. I didn't want to do a digital game, since I didn't want to do all the coding. So I worked with the constraints and thought about what makes board games and in-person games powerful. My idea was to harness each player's creative mind. In a digital game you usually can’t ask the player to go off on a tangent and tell a story. But in the analog world, people talking and having discussions is completely natural.

What Went Right:        

What Went Wrong:        

Hug Rating:
5 hugs

A fun game that I like to play with friends from time to time and which encourages me to buy new Dixit cards. Useful to get a feel for the sorts of friends you have and the sorts of stories they find interesting.

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