Bug Off: The Game of Outdoor Warfare

12 June 2017 · 2 comments

in Technologies, Urban

Post image for Bug Off: The Game of Outdoor Warfare

Last week I had the privilege of interviewing Tom Hall, 14yr-old Games Designer, and joining him and his family for a game of Bug Off. Tom has spent over two years developing the game and refining the rules and design. It is currently designed for 2-4 players, but owing to the open-ended nature of the game, it would be easy to play this in a larger group. Players can invent their own teams based on different bugs so that more children can play. They can design their own add-ons.

Last month, Tom presented it at the Birmingham NEC Games Expo where it attracted a lot of interest from traditional games enthusiasts as well as the outdoor sector. The game has an environmental theme which appeals to many other European countries. The advice he received was invaluable in terms of networking, meeting distributors and helping Tom market the game. It will be featured in a gaming magazine – Tabletop Gaming. A games company has also been looking at the game for its commercial potential.

Most games are played on boards. Tom has developed his game so that the outdoor space becomes the board. This adds a new level of interest because where you play affects how the game is played. For example, in a woodland, branches can be used to launch and ping disks closer to your opponents’ flags. On a beach, the malleable properties of sand can be used to build defence structures – but be warned, the burrowing properties of worms means they can avoid these by travelling underground.

The original game was based on a wooden chess board using a tile manipulation where flowers could turn to mud. It was very complex and Tom ditched it quite quickly. Then his mum suggested to go outside and Tom decided it should be played outside. He tested it in the woods, setting up a tent to experiment from. Originally it was played on stones but that didn’t work. The current model is based on light wooden disks. As Tom states, “War Games such as Little Wars by HG Wells were designed to be played outside. In many ways, I’m just taking gaming back to its roots.”

Bug Off is deceptively simple to play. It involves choosing a team: moths, ladybirds, worms or beetles. Each has special skills, talents and properties which affect their speed, method of travelling, attacks and defence mechanisms. However, Tom has spent ages ensuring these do not favour one team over another, despite his personal preference for moths. The aim of the game is to capture opponents’ flags and return them to your team’s base. Unlike the traditional children’s game of Capture the Flag, there are the war elements that add intrigue and complexity. The more I played, the more I realised the potential of the game and how children can easily change and adapt each component and tailor the game to their own ideas.

As we played the game, we found ourselves discussing the possibilities for creating other games. This is where I think that schools will find this game useful – as a catalyst for children inventing their own outdoor games. The enterprising approach taken by Tom to developing and marketing his game has been a huge learning curve and demonstrated that the use of an outdoor space as a context could help re-think the gaming concept.

Tom is seeking crowd funding to take the production of the game to the next level. He would much appreciate any support you are able to give. For more information, visit the Bug Off Facebook and Twitter pages.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Share the knowledge...

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim Arbuckle June 12, 2017 at 11:31

Is the Bug Off game available to purchase anywhere yet?


Juliet Robertson June 12, 2017 at 12:37

If you click on the link for the crowdfunding at the end of the article, this is how the game is being made available at the end of June.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: