Making Hopscotch Better

Hopscotch Pros: Easy to learn, easy to remember and set up, reasonable test of dexterity for youths, aerobic exercise, trains balance, flexible framework for twists in game rules, masterable, simple and abstract.

Hopscotch Cons: Repetitive, Interest and difficulty curve plateau quickly (occasional spikes when marker lands on double square), losing a turn feels bad, only one player can play at a time, even though it is multiplayer there is no player interaction, inaccessible to those with leg impairments, no aesthetics/flavor, uses dominant leg a lot because the rules prohibit alternating (no switching is tiring, imbalanced muscle and balance training), different shaped markers make it easier/harder to land them accurately, sometimes it takes too long to play.

Brainstorming:

1 Underwater/lowgravityscotch

2 Monkeybarscotch (using arms)

3 Unicyclescotch (hopping)

4 Rockclimbingscotch (skip handholds, only leap climbing allowed)

5 Pool Islandscotch

6 Table Leapingscotch/the floor is lavascotch

7 Wipeoutscotch (if you think about it, Wipeout is a lot like hopscotch)

8 DanceDanceRevoluscotch

9 Nostalghiascotch (Hopscotch while holding a candle. Make sure it doesn’t blow out!)

10 Joustscotch

11 VRscotch

12 Wheelchairscotch (a leg impaired accessible version)

13 Handstandscotch

14 Fingerscotch

15 Oobleckscotch

16 Jugglescotch

17 Jockscotch (any sport but with only hopping)

18 twitch plays hopscotch (with Toribash)

19 Beanbagscotch

20 Goldenbrick roadscotch (do it to Wizard of Oz songs!)

21 LARPscotch (involved one legged live action rpg)

22 RailroadExpresscotch (very long hopscotch, everybody hops in a line)

23 JohnHenryscotch (work together to draw the hopscotch faster than the train can hop)

24 BranchingNarrativescotch

25 Bedevilscotch (be gently poked by sticks from all sides as you attempt to hopscotch)

26 PeetaMallarkscotch (use slightly burnt bread as a marker)

27 SingingInTheRainscotch (requires umbrella and several lamp posts)

28 Biblescotch (hop while carrying a large wooden cross)

29 Birdboxscotch (blindfolded, but also don’t do it it’s probably dangerous)

30 Fastscotch: Time limit to complete course

31 Slowscotch: Must spend time in each box

32 Throw first, draw boxes laterscotch

33 Draw as you hopscotch

34 Co-opscotch (2players, legs tied together)

35 Competitive Monopolyscotch (square owning)

36 Concurrentscotch (Everyone playing on their own spaces, race)

37 Twisterscotch (players navigate to a specific color without knocking over others and themselves)

38 Backwardscotch (hop backwards)

39 PermanentlySkipscotch (the square your marker lands on you must cross out)

40 Jengascotch (erase the square your marker lands on and add to the top)

41 Spectatorscotch (Set up one in a busy area and see who is tempted)

42 Longjumpscotch

43 Interferencescotch (concurrent, throw markers at eachother’s tracks)

44 Snakes n Ladderscotch

45 Stonepathscotch

46 Riverrockscotch (dangerous)

47 Roulettescotch (circular, with added gambling element)

48 Balletscotch (ballet varient for children, pirouettes encouraged)

49 Fractalscotch (have fun drawing it, then hop along your creation)

50 HipHopscotch (do freestyle dance the whole route)

51 Russian Squatcotch

52 Drumscotch (freestyle without a drumkit piece that your marker is on)

53 Propscotch (hide and seek but with hopping)

54 Scotch (a hopping scotch drinking game)

55 HopScotchtape

56 Copscotch (GTA where you run from the hoppers)

57 Sascotch (Sascuatch)

Best Ideas:

LARPscotch – Using available foam swords, I tried sparring while only using one leg and it was honestly very fun already. With added flavor justification and game mechanics, it could become not only a good variation of hopscotch, but yet another fun activity to use foam weapons for.

Jengascotch – It would need to be a variation, but this idea could work. I tried it with the traditional hopscotch set-up, but it would quickly reach a theoretical limit for one legged jump distance, turning it into a prolonged one-legged long jump contest. With a more puzzle-like configuration of squares (and something other than numbers), there might even be strategy involved.

Roulettescotch – A real roulette table would be difficult to carry around all the time, but a giant round one made of chalk and road would be interesting. Players could play as the balls and suddenly you have a set up that’s fun and weird, easy to understand, but also dangerous to teach to minors susceptible to gambling addiction! This combination makes Roulettescotch much more marketable during sales pitches.

JohnHenryscotch – I distinctly remember the story of John Henry, especially since I was exposed to it multiple times in elementary and middle school while learning about American folklore. I feel like I would have loved to have roleplayed as him and lay the tracks (squares) lightning fast while racing the manifestation of a growing capitalist industry (a hopping friend). This also supports much more than 2 players because several people can work as a team to lay the tracks.

Idea Development:

LARPscotch –

Rules and Set Up #1: All players have 1 two-handed foam staff (stab and smack legal) and one brightly colored spell packet. Make a 4×4 grid using chalk/tape on the floor, creating an arena that accommodates a decent amount of shuffling.

Players start in the far corners of the arena. Each player has 3 hit points. An unblocked swing deals 1 damage. Spell packets may be thrown at the ground to lay a spell rune (it occupies the whole square in which it lands), which when stepped on deals 1 damage. Packets may be picked up to be rethrown. Be careful not to step on your own!

A player loses when they have 0 hit points, have two feet on the ground at any point, or if they leave the arena by any means. The goal is to be the last person in the ring. All LARP fighting rules are in play, which means no grabbing, shoving, face and groin attacks, and both hands must be on the staff while swinging.

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Playtest #1: The intended audience is young adults – middle age, so I made use of what I had readily available and played with some college friends.
Unfortunately, I forgot that LARP rules are extremely exploitable because points are and damage are scored with every separate instance of contact, so wizened players can just repeatedly lightly tap someone as quickly as they can to deal way more damage than what should be feasible and realistic. The hope was that players would be playful and respectful, have some fun flourishing and engage in swordplay. In reality, the point system breaks down the gameplay and people cave to their instinct to win and rush in to tap an exposed area three times as quickly as possible.

Analysis #1: Having HP made people think about exploitative winning strategies, and the childlike fun was quickly stripped away. Removing the spell packet, players would begin to completely ignore the spaces. Attempting to negotiate a turn-based system was silly. All hope seemed to be lost, until two late arrivals came, saw the set-up, and spontaneously decided to spar.

Playtest #2: Without rules, aside from an assumed arena, one foot hopping, and respectful boffer play, the intended experience was achieved. Players had fun dancing around and pretend spar, twirling, losing balance, engage in interesting fake combat.

Analysis: On its own, the game looks interesting enough to inspire spontaneous play. Without rules aside from one legged combat and a small arena, player seemed to be encouraged to just have fun, rather than do what it takes to win. This might just be a toy at this point, or a game with a few explicit rules and many many more implicit, unspoken rules, ones defined by the players. It was truly fun to watch and play however.

Problems: Initially, this variation was intended to solve the following problems about hopscotch:

Repetitiveness, games taking too long, no player interaction, no aesthetics/flavor, imbalanced markers, dominant leg overuse, low skill ceiling.

With the last iteration, the game seems to have fixed all of these problems, aside from the markers (spell packets were ultimately removed). Games went very quickly, each player would evolve their personal sparring techniques, there is plentiful player interaction, imagination and props aided in adding flavor, and players could exercise a lot more, engaging their core and their hand eye coordination.

JohnHenryscotch –

Due to bad road conditions I could not playtest this game. I still want to elaborate on it however because the more I think about it the more appealing it sounds.

Rules and Set Up: Split into two teams. One player will be the Steam Powered Track Layer. The other players will play as the Railroad Workers.

First, decide on the beginning and end points, and draw one set of parallel lines ( || ) from start to finish for the Steam Powered Track Layer. Then mark a point where the Mountain begins. The goal is to build your side of the rail all the way to the end before the other team can finish theirs.

The Steam Powered player may never have two feet on the ground. To build their track, they must draw a horizontal line ( |-| ) through the middle of the track and mark one rail ( |-‘| ). Then they may hop forward and draw another.

The Railroad Workers may have any amount of appendages touching the ground, but in order to build their track they must make a square and mark both sides ( |,_,|) before they can continue.

Once the Mountain is reached, both teams must exert more effort to build the rails. The Steam Powered player must mark both rails ( |’-‘| ) before moving forward, and the Railroad Workers must make two squares and mark each end ( |,-|- ,| ).

Analysis/Problem: This game would solve the problems with no player interaction, plateau of difficulty curve. It would also have a higher skill ceiling, asymmetry for increase interest and replayability, teamwork building. It would have a clear goal, relatively easy to remember the set up and rules, and very famous folklore roots, perhaps a game playable right after learning about John Henry. A problem I can foresee is imbalance, mostly due to not being able to playtest this. Both teams have very different advantages. Repetitiveness is still a problem but hopefully with the new skill ceiling, asymmetry, and the Mountain, the interest curve won’t plateau like regular hopscotch.

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