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A card game developed at the 2018 NYU Tisch High School Summer Program

by Carson Gilford, Miles Isgrig, Ariana Ahou, and Jason Liu.

The Princess and the Pea is a four-player card game based on the iconic fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen. Critical elements from the story are used to create an entertaining game that honors the classic fairytale.

Each Player/Princess's objective is to obtain the pea at the bottom of their bed. Gameplay and strategy depend upon how players manage to subtract mattresses from their own beds while adding mattresses to the beds of their opponents in a race to reach the pea. The Player/Princess that captures the pea at the bottom of their own bed first wins the game.

The Princess and The Pea was developed as a final project during the 2018 NYU Tisch High School Summer Game Design Program. This intense four-person group project was developed this past summer while attending the month-long program in New York City.

The team assignment was to select a fairytale as inspiration to create a game. Choosing to adapt the children’s story, The Princess and the Pea into a competitive card game was our team’s first collaborative decision. I appreciated the input of my teammates. We each came from different backgrounds, which added to the diversity of our perspectives. Combining our unique thoughts and ideas enriched the experience and elevated the results. We often worked late into the night, never tiring, as the work inspired us. We play-tested, sketched, and rewrote the rules, collaborating to figure out what worked best to enhance our game and what did not.

My primary responsibilities included co-writing the game rules while creating and developing the mechanics of the playing cards along with my teammate, Miles. I influenced my team into adopting a cost system for the playing cards as well as creating many of the dynamic properties and card interactions. Also, I contributed by building the prototype game pieces using card stock, masking tape, and markers. Furthermore, I constructed physical playing cards made with printed artwork and colored paper.

Upon completion of the NYU summer program, I continued to develop this project on my own, with the aim of making it more engaging, by constructing three additional game sets, plus photographing a game session. My next step was teaching and playing the game with my family, which I have documented on the following pages.

I hope you enjoy exploring my fresh version of The Princess and the Pea.


- Carson Gilford

Game Rules
 Tabletop start layout
 Tabletop start document
Princess & The Pea - NYU final gameplay evaluation
The following photographs show the NYU summer program final Princess and the Pea gameplay evaluation. Students and faculty participated in playing the prototype games created during the Tisch summer program. A great time was had by all.
Princess & The Pea - Playing Cards
Developing and designing the specific and unique mechanics for each game card was one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of the project. Projecting how a card’s attributes can affect gameplay decisions and probabilities was carefully considered, tested and proven.
Princess & The Pea - Game play examples
After the NYU summer program ended, and I returned home, I continued to develop The Princess and the Pea. I refined many aspects of the game from the rules to the graphics. The final step was to teach, play and document the game with my family.
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