From hopscotch to Top Trumps: which classic game would you redesign?

Last week, Pentagram’s Angus Hyland revealed his interpretation of Battleships and Rock, Paper, Scissors for Laurence King. We ask designers which classic games they would like to see reimagined.

Sophie Sampson, director, Matheson Marcault

“Our upcoming exhibition at Somerset House, Game Changers: Another Way to Play will show how game makers continue to reinvent familiar and classic games to create new possibilities for playing.

The games you can redesign the most outlandishly and still get people clamouring to play are the ones they remember from childhood. The rules live deep inside you next to your feelings about your first guinea pig and how flying saucer sweets fizz on the tongue.

Hopscotch is another great one for this – it’s been taken as a starting point by so many artists to do crazy things precisely because you don’t need to spend ages explaining the rules to players. They remember how to play with their bodies. And that’s important because games without players, however beautiful, are only half alive.

With hopscotch, as long you get the size of the boxes right in proportion to the size of your players, people understand what they’re supposed to do. They find themselves playing before they’ve thought about it. I’d like to see public squares turned into huge and expansive hopscotch boards because there is nothing more joyful than seeing soberly-dressed grown-ups breaking out into play.”

Michael Smith, founding director, Cog Design

“I love Angus Hyland’s beautiful new take on Rock, Paper, Scissors, it’ll make a handsome addition to my bookshelf. I’ll buy it and admire it, but I doubt I’ll ever take it out and play it.

I understand why manufacturers and publishers want to reinvent formats but the most enduring games require the simplest equipment – an eight-by-eight board and some counters, a pad and pencil, or just two hands making one of three shapes.

My family probably owns a dozen versions of Monopoly but at Christmas it’s the classic version that sits next to the battered 1970s Scrabble box, my primary school chess set, five dice for Yahtzee, a box of dominoes, and a pack of playing cards.”

Oliver Stokes, strategy and innovation partner, Design Bridge

“The game I’d love to see reinvented is Top Trumps. Not just for the level of political puns out there right now, but also because of the awesomeness that could come from stretching the potential topics.

Think about how Ladybird books has evolved its “for grown-ups” series, which adds a whole new dimension to the classic brand, or the amazing infographics and big data stats out there at the moment that could feed into a reinvented Top Trumps.”

Paul Priestman, chairman, PriestmanGoode

“The much talked about and testing of British games is called buying a train ticket, surely the one game that is wholly out-of-date and in need of an urgent redesign.

You can almost see the advertising on the box: ‘only the most patient and dexterous can successfully navigate a system aimed to confuse and baffle to the extent that you pay more for a journey than necessary’, or ‘can you get a ticket in time before you miss the train’.

Come on, we live in a connected world with some of the most rudimentary systems called Oyster cards and contactless payment. Can we do it? Yes we can.”

What classic game would you redesign? Let us know in the comments section below.

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  • Michael Nash February 17, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    What fun. I’ve recently been ‘toying’ with the idea of the designer edition of Cluedo which would use famous graphic designers rather than the usual suspects. The rooms names would change to things like the Typesetting Room and the weapons of choice would be all those typefaces we loathe. The design crime was committed by Neville Brody, in the Font Library using Brush Script!

  • Gavin Darvell February 22, 2017 at 10:45 am

    An interesting article. I was particularly interested in the comment about Top Trumps by Oliver Stokes. I write a travel blog Sketches in Travel ( and I’ve recently started a series of posts called Travel Trumps! It’s based on the Top Trumps game and they are like mini guides. Perhaps Oliver would be interested in helping me develop them?

  • Kenn Munk December 26, 2017 at 11:35 am

    I teach creative thinking and have asked the students to redesign some of the minimalist games as super short tasks – noughts or crosses, rock-paper-scissors and the like. It’s great fun and I ask them to redesign both the gameplay and the visual side of it. The task is inspired by a plane journey where I was sat next to a child and his nan. He kept insisting to play a version of noughts or crosses where you won if you had two in a line – he also insisted on starting each game.

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