This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

An Approach for Designing Board Games That Promote Children’s Social Skills




Han, Hefei

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Industrial and Graphic Design


As the world becomes more and more cooperative, children’s development of social skills becomes increasingly vital to their personal growth, and most importantly, future success in adulthood. Traditionally, educators intervene in children’s social skills development through the method of direct instruction. Despite being empirically proven and widely applied, its effectiveness is limited mainly because of a lack of motivation and simulation. Alternatively, this thesis bases itself on the unparalleled value of play—an innate activity of humankind, specifically playing board games—an archaic yet timeless entertainment, on facilitating the development of children’s social skills. Although the benefits of playing board games on children’s social skills development have been verified both theoretically and practically, there are few resources available to designers on how to design board games to this end. This thesis reviews the literature on child development, childhood education, and play study in line with the thinking and doing from the industry of educational games and board games, and proposes a new, and hopefully optimal, approach for designing board games that promote children’s social skills as the research result. At the end of this thesis, a board game prototype was provided to partially demonstrate how this approach works in practice. With inevitable limitations and imperfections, this thesis remains a good start for further research nevertheless.