Joy of Games Assignment #1: Aesthetic Rulesets

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Last Letter First – Aesthetic Ruleset

Last Letter First Is an aesthetic ruleset that plays with words and how they’re written on  paper. The instructions ask 2+ players to take turns creating a flow of words. No instruction beyond the ruleset is given. This allows for a variety of interpretations and visually how it is played out on paper through each players handwriting, the utensils used, a lack of rules that allows a certain amount of improv. Or in the case of my parents, Bonnie & Hunter, how players approach rulesets- Bonnie established that words could only be used once, underlining one already used previously. Or Hunter realizing that it would have been more interesting if the had approached it as one long word ex: wordarlingrabagorgan vs word darling grab bad organ.

Although after testing it with 3 groups I realized that last letter first is already an actual word game (kind of like ghost). I think the ambiguity of how the rules are given to the players still allows for interpretation & a range of aesthetic outcomes. The players personalities, their relational dynamics and the environment all influence the gameplay.  Usually whatever font style is used by first player ends up being used for the rest of the round (ex: all upper case).


“For 5 minutes taking turns on a single 11″x8.5″ sheet of paper. One person start with any word that comes to mind, write it down on the paper. Then taking turns, continue adding words to the word chain starting with the last letter of each word.”     


Round 1: Bonnie & Hunter (Nashville, TN) 



  • different hardness/pressure of handwritting ( = darker font)
  • create own rulesets (ex: only the same word once thinking of boggle = the underlined word eel on paper)
  • if played again would naturally have created one long word verses including spacing
  • mostly lower case


Round 2: Karen & Jason ( Boston, MA) 


  • Asked out loud if proper nouns were okay and silently agreed
  • wrote the first word down like it was the title
  • 2 colors of utensils
  • mostly upper case with the 1st in cursive.


Round 3: Chad & Rob (NYC) IMG_2220.JPGimg_2219-1.jpg

  • Played at a bar
  • Upper Case
  • Scrabble like play
  • Also wrote left to right / multiple directions



  • Draw 4 Lines in class exercise (wanted to create another continuous action but with words)
  • Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit (and its often  nonsensical or poetic whimsy)
  • Stream of Consciousness Writing
  • Improv games
  • Outloud word Games like Ghost
  • Word games like Boggle or Scrabble
  • Games that reflect player’s personalities & environments




“Why do we follow rules? How do simple rulesets lead to complex and exciting results? We’ll continue with some more fundamental concepts of game design, and also take inspiration from past art and design movements to explore some of the joyful, poetic, and surprisingly game-y outputs of simple rulesets.
Due next class: create an aesthetic ruleset. You must test this with at least two groups of people before class—please bring in artifacts and photo documentation of this. See more details in the Assignments section below. ” – joy of games syllabus. 

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