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Reminder - Free Play Friday, 4-7pm


This is just a reminder email that we are continuing to do our Free Play Friday events every Friday from 4-7pm in the BGNlab from now until mid-December. 

This is a time where you can come and try some tabletop games, both already published and new games that our students are working on.


There is more information about the event at the bottom of the page here:



GameTALK on Thursday, Oct. 4 about the history of Monopoly

Interested to learn the true stories about how Monopoly came to be?  It’s not what you expect.

We are partnered with the WLU libraries to bring you this month's GameTALK by Mary Pilon, who wrote the book “The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game.”

She will share some of the stories from the book, and you’ll be surprised to learn some of the tales of how Monopoly came to be.

This event is open to the public, and will be Thursday, Oct. 4th, starting at 7pm in the BGNlab.  Information about visiting the lab is here:

And then, the next day, from 4-7pm is our weekly Free Play Friday event, where you can come and join us for some games.   More information about that event can also be found here:



Game Talk - Thursday, Sept. 13 at 7pm

It’s a new academic year, and with that, brings our first GameTalk speaker.   Organized by the Michelle Goodridge from the WLU Libraries, the Game Talk speaker series is a chance to hear from someone in the gaming industry.  The talks are open to the public.

Tonight, the speaker is Jeff Lai, who is a board game designer with many published titles.  He is the lead designer at KEJI, a toy and game studio.  You can see more about Jeff on his BoardGameGeek page:

Jeff will be speaking at 7pm on Thursday, September 13 at the BGNlab.  Directions to the lab are here:

 Questions about the event can be directed to Michelle at



Our other speakers for the semester are the first Thursday of every month:
Oct 4 – Mary Pilon, author of The Monopolist
Nov 1 – Tabby Rose, Cofounder/President of Axon Interactive
Dec 6 – Matthew Phillips, Digital Game Designer




The Eight Roles for Escape Room Success

People ask me how they can succeed at an escape room.   One of the things that is important is to ensure that you have a team that can take on the various challenges in a room.

To help with this, I've developed this list of the eight roles that I see as crucial to succeeding in an escape room.  A person can have multiple roles.  If you don't have something that is listed, then be prepared to get a hint if you are faced with this type of challenge.

Project Manager - This person should have an idea of what is the current challenges the group is facing and is the person who is the communication hub.  If things are found, it should be reported to the project manager, and this person should be communicating with the group about what everyone is looking for.  This person shouldn't get stuck in working on a puzzle, but instead should be monitoring the flow of the room and ensure that people have something to work on.

Searcher - This person should be focused on looking on, under, above, around, behind, and inside everything.  They should be on the floor looking under furniture, searching in every pillowcase and pocket, and working through books in the room.  This is a great role for a younger player on a team, as they have fresher eyes than us old jaded folks.

Quartermaster - If the project manager is handling the people, the quartermaster is handling the stuff.  This person should work closely with the project manager and the searcher.  They will have a place in the room to put each type of thing that is found, as well as an area to put things that have already been used.  They will be most likely to be able to connect two different things together when facing this type of "a ha" puzzle.  They will also keep people in the room from wasting time working with something that has already been used.

Brain - The brain is the puzzler of the group.  This is the person who knows different types of logic and math puzzles and understands strategies for working through them.  There are certain types of encoding schemes that are in escape rooms (Morse code, Braille, Pigpen, 1-26 for A-Z, Roman numerals) and the Brain should be aware when they are looking at one of these and to seek a key.

Reader - This person's job is to read everything.  In some rooms, this is a crucial role, and in other rooms, it doesn't matter at all.  What doesn't work is for someone to quickly read something out loud to everyone, as people just don't listen.  It's better to have someone read documents to themselves, and then report to the Project Manager what the text contained.  This person can also look for funny patterns in text that might be an encoded message and pass that onto the Brain.  In addition, if there is a word puzzle, the Reader is a good one for it.

Rogue - This person has good physical dexterity, and will be the one to take on laser mazes, physical challenges like throwing or dropping things.  Most rooms have something physical, and a team can waste a lot of time letting everyone have a try (even though it might be fun).  It's better to let one person try and re-try a challenge, getting better at it, and then after they succeed, the rest of the group can play with the props later.  

Worker - This person needs grit.  The worker is someone who can take a process puzzle and work and work and work on it.   The other players should involve the worker as needed to accomplish tasks that are tedious.  Sometimes, there is nothing else to do other than try every key on the keyring or look behind every book on the shelf, and the worker will be the one for that task.

Game Designer - The game designer should have a different mental approach to the escape room.  They should be comfortable with how escape rooms are built, and be looking for patterns in design.  They can follow the wires from electrical puzzles to get an idea of what should work together.  They should be asking "what would the game designer want us to do" and "what is the style of this company/designer".  If there are multiple rooms in a facility, the game designer should be looking for design patterns between different rooms.  This can also be a frustrating role if the game isn't well-designed; while it is rewarding when something works because it's in the logic of the world, it's frustrating when something doesn't have a logical reason as to why it is in the world.

Side note - I wrote a paper all about using the concept of "Ask Why" to design escape rooms, which you can find here:


Dialectic Vitalogue Game Release

Last fall the BGNlab collaborated with Dialectic hosting a game jam to generate game ideas about advanced healthcare planning. Dialectic documented the process with this excellent video. 

Dialectic - The Making of Vitalogue from Dialectic on Vimeo.

Two students from the Game design & Development program worked on the final game which lauched today and here is the press release. 

June 20, 2018—A new educational resource is now available to help health-care professionals encourage and support important conversations about advance care planning between patients and their families.


Vitalogue: A game about Advance Care Planning is a scenario-based e-learning game, created through a collaboration involving St. Joseph’s Health Centre Guelph, Conversations Worth Having Waterloo Wellington, Hospice of Waterloo Region, Hospice Wellington, and the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington (CMHAWW). Vitalogue was created by Dialectic, a Guelph-based e-learning solutions provider, and leverages insights from the Game Design and Development Program at Wilfrid Laurier University.


“Advance care planning is the process of determining your future healthcare wishes and identifying a substitute decision maker to speak on your behalf in the event that you should ever be unable to make decisions about your own healthcare,” said Audrey Devitt, Waterloo Wellington Geriatric System Coordinator, CMHAWW. “Vitalogue will equip healthcare professionals with the knowledge, confidence and practical skills to encourage and support advanced care planning conversations between patients and their substitute decision makers and loved ones, which is important to alleviate stress among families.”


Vitalogue features an interactive story presented in a scrolling, comic-book style choose-your-own-adventure game, where people navigate key concepts of advance care planning, substitute decision making, capacity and consent, and difficult conversations. Each decision made along the way is weighted with a score, and, in the end, people discover whether their choices led to a good outcome for the main character, Yarsdel Nordstom.


“Because healthcare decision-making relies heavily on applying abstract concepts and principles to novel situations, a scenario-based experience was a clear design choice. We wanted healthcare professionals to practice the skills in real-world contexts, not merely learn more information in a way that was divorced from its application,” said Aaron Barth, President of Dialectic.  


The Vitalogue e-learning initiative is an outcome of the three-year Advance Care Planning project “Conversations Worth Having,” focused on educating healthcare professionals and residents; ensuring legislative compliance across healthcare settings; and improving support for caregivers.


Play Vitalogue: A game about Advance Care Planning

See The Making of Vitalogue (video)


About St. Joseph’s Health Centre Guelph

St. Joseph's Health Centre Guelph has been serving the Guelph and Wellington community since the day it first opened its doors as a refuge for the sick, the injured, the frail, and the indigent in 1861. Today, it is Guelph's leading, fully-accredited, not-for-profit provider of resident long-term care, complex continuing care, and rehabilitation services. The Health Centre also offers excellent community outreach services for people who live in their own homes but need a little assistance in their day-to-day lives. In addition, St. Joseph's out-patient clinics offer a range of services in the areas of geriatrics, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech/language pathology, rheumatology, and bone densitometry.


About Dialectic

Dialectic creates immersive e-learning, organizational change and customer engagement experiences - powered by science and smart multimedia design - to solve problems and elevate performance. We illuminate core challenges and design an ideal solution, based on our expertise in behavioural science, psychology, education and creative design arts, to change thinking and elevate outcomes.


About Conversations Worth Having Waterloo Wellington

In 2015, Hospice Waterloo Region partnered with Hospice Wellington to launch a three-year project focused on Advance Care Planning and Health Care Consent. With three dedicated staff and funding from the Ministry of Health, the project reached out to community and health care settings as critical sites for engagement and education. The staff engaged individuals and groups across the community and health care sectors to raise awareness, build correct understanding and encourage Advance Care Planning conversations. The project funding came to a close in April 2018 but both Hospice Waterloo Region and Hospice Wellington continue to coordinate community education and provide resources across Waterloo Wellington.


For more information please contact:


Audrey Devitt

Waterloo Wellington Geriatric System Coordinator

Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington



Aaron Barth