Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Cooperation and Engagement: What can board games teach us?

Quite accidentally, I came across the following very thoughtful 2008 Google TechTalk video on boardgame design by Matt Leacock. While the lecture is focused on games and not simulations per se, much of it—on graphic layout, playtesting, simplicity and challenge, engaging players in the story line, and fostering cooperative game-play, among many other issues—is extremely useful for simulation designers too.

Cooperation and Engagement: What can board games teach us?

Google Tech Talks, April, 25 2008

In February of 2008, Matt Leacock released Pandemic, a board game where players cooperate to save the world from deadly diseases that threaten to wipe out humanity. The game has been enthusiastically received, with its first printing selling out in less than a month. Matt will discuss how being an interaction designer affected the game design process as well as how cooperative games can point to new models for engagement in online systems. Pandemic’s BoardGameGeek page is Speaker: Matt Leacock Matt Leacock is a principal designer at Yahoo! Inc. When he’s not designing social platforms and products for Yahoo!, he dabbles in board game design. Matt’s ludography (list of game designs) is here: Matt’s work bio is here:

7 responses to “Cooperation and Engagement: What can board games teach us?

  1. Mary Couzin 15/12/2011 at 7:59 am

    Hello Tondalaya,

    Designing board games is a lot of fun!

    We don’t have a game coming out this month. We just finished putting on the Toy and Game Inventor Conference, Social Media at Play Conference, Toy and Game Inventor of the Year Awards and Chicago Toy and Game Fair

    You can email me at mcouzin (at) Before you do, please ready some of the articles on This is a site we maintain for inventors.

    My Best,
    Mary Couzin
    Chicago Toy and Game Group

  2. Tondalaya Sims ( Tonya) 15/12/2011 at 2:06 am

    Hi Mary Couzine I been trying to email you( my computer). I have an learning board games. I have taking it to my attorney, and he couldn’t stop playing it. All why he talk to me he kept playing it. My grandkids love it. But you can learn from it at any age, its fun. I have been looking on my computer for help.And saw you with an game comming out this month. How can I get some help to selling my game. I have 9 other games you can learn from. But they are not boardsgames. One at a time. If my board game gets out it will help chilren learn. And its an familly game to. Something you can play with freinds at an party. With this game you can play it, one on one or with an group.

  3. Mary Couzin 17/05/2009 at 2:39 am

    Hi Gary,

    Thank you for the suggestion. I am very familiar with BoardGameGeek, it is a terrific site, but our whole site is about supporting teachers, librarians, homeschoolers, parents, etc. in using board game in learning. We have hundreds of articles of real life experience and research. Our newsletter goes out to over 232,000 educators. We needed to have a database that was customized to their needs and in one website.

    We have posted about on BGG and asked members to submit articles that we could post. If this is your area of expertise, we’d love to have an article from you.

  4. Gary Milante 08/05/2009 at 10:32 pm

    Hi Mary,

    If you aren’t already familiar with it, you might try using the database on BoardGameGeek, specifically, starting a geeklist about educational games. There are a lot of users on there that might have suggestions for you.

  5. Mary Couzin 01/04/2009 at 1:21 pm

    Thank you, Rex. If you have an article you would like to see us post to the site, just let us know.

  6. Rex Brynen 01/04/2009 at 12:35 pm

    Thanks for pointing out your site to us, Mary—we’ve added it to the links.

  7. Mary Couzin 01/04/2009 at 11:24 am

    We believe board games can teach many things and have devoted a website to research and classroom/library experience at

    Last week we debuted a Game Finder that educators/librarians/parents/anyone can search for a game by subject, skill, age level, educational benefit, etc. It is community driven and we welcome additions. Pandemic is included.

    Mary Couzin
    Chicago Toy and Game Group

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