Objective | Learners
& Context | Object
of Game | Game
Required | Rules
Process | References
enables the student to combine Greek and Latin prefixes, roots, and
suffixes to develop common English words that occur in many subject
areas, such as science, history, mathematics, literature, and medicine.
basic meaning or meanings of words can best be realized if a student
develops a good working knowledge of prefixes, roots, and suffixes.
The greatest number of these has been derived from Greek and Latin.
To be more precise, two-thirds of the words we speak, write, and read
come from these roots. It is logical then to concentrate on making them
a part of one's basic vocabulary. By viewing words etymologically, as
words made up of these three parts, the meanings of words become easier
to learn and remember. Also, students armed with this etymological knowledge
now have "clues" and are better able to "attack" words, that is, to
decode them and arrive at a general meaning without having to resort
to a dictionary.
Through a greater knowledge of prefixes, roots, and suffixes, the student
can realize improvement in spelling. Students can also anticipate becoming
The following is taken from the Arcadia Unified School District's Middle
School Language Arts Curriculum and is typical of what many districts
in California expect from their students:
grades 6,7, and 8, students will apply knowledge of word structure
in reading and writing tasks. Students will be able to…
use their knowledge of word origins and word relationships to determine
the meaning of specialized vocabulary and to understand the meaning
of grade level appropriate words;
use knowledge of affixes and root words to decode and encode unfamiliar
analyze how affixes change the meaning and usage of words;
expand the study of etymology, Greek and Latin-based morphology,
and foreign language influences on English.
Dominatus would be an ideal tool to enable students to complete a very
valuable objective outlined by their school district's language arts
curriculum. The collection of prefixes, roots, and suffixes in this
game makes possible the formation and understanding of numerous words.
There are, of course, thousands of these affixes and roots. Dominatus
contains the most commonly used of these to form several hundred words.
It can become the foundation upon which the student can continue to
build his or her house of word understanding.
Learners & Context of Use
game is designed for 6th, 7th and 8th grade students and will be played
at school. Everything that is required to play the game is included
within the box except for a pencil and paper to record scores.
of the game are expected to have had previous exposure to a classroom
lesson that explained the relationship of Greek and Latin roots to the
English language. Such a lesson will have also introduced the learners
to several roots and their English equivalents.
game is designed to be played more than once. Each time the game is
played students reinforce, and most likely increase their knowledge
of Greek and Latin roots.
Dominatus, players form English words by assembling tiles which contain
Greek and Latin roots. It is the objective of each player to score points
from the value of each played tile, from strategically placing the tiles
upon bonus squares on the gameboard and defining constructed words correctly.
The person who scores the most points at the conclusion of the game
List each of the physical objects one would find in the box. For
example, the board, each type of card, each type of prize or token,
x 24 inches; two-dimensional grid with imprinted bonus and start
x 2 inches; imprinted with Latin and Greek roots
will take less than five minutes for players to draw to see who goes
first and to select the initial tiles. An average game will take between
30 and 45 minutes to finish. The game has been designed to be completed
in one sitting.
Place all tile roots into the tile bag and shuffle them. Each player
draws one tile from the bag. The ascending alphabetical order of the
tiles determine when the holder of the tile plays. For example, the
holder of "alpha" will play before the holder of "auto". Blank tiles
take precedence over all other tiles. The tiles are placed back into
the bag and reshuffled. Each player draws seven tiles and places them
into the tile rack.
person is elected to tally each player's points.
first player begins by creating a two- or more root word. One of the
tiles placed by the first player must be placed on the capitalized
"alpha" symbol located in the center of the board. The tiles must
always be placed vertically or horizontally.
words do not have to be spelled exactly as they are in English;
they only have to contain all of the roots of the proposed word.
the tiles are placed, the current player has the option of defining
the constructed word. A correct definition yields 3 points; an incorrect
definition results in the loss of three points. The player is not
required to define the word, it is only an option. If a questionable
definition is offered, any player is allowed to challenge it by referring
the Dominatus glossary. The current player completes his/her turn
by drawing as many tiles as played. The score keeper then records
the total points obtained.
continues with the next person to the left. The second player
and all subsequent players must build words using the tiles already
placed by previous players.
each player has had at least one turn, subsequent players are allowed
to begin building on the lowercase "alpha" symbols placed near
the four corners of the board. Moving to the lowercase "alphas" is
not required immediately after everyone has had a turn; it is only
Tiles may be added to the beginning or end of already existing
words to form longer words
All tiles must appear in the same order that the roots
would appear in the English form of the word.
All tiles must be placed side-to-side (including both vertical
and horizontal sides) or at right (90 degree) angles.
All tiles placed adjacent to other tiles must always form
a complete word. For example, if a player uses three tiles to
construct a word horizontally and there are other tiles either
directly above or below the placed tiles, each placement must
also form valid words in the vertical direction. The player will
score points for each word constructed.
tiles are placed, they must stay in the same position for the entire
blank tiles may be used to represent any root. The player must
state what root it represents when it is placed and it will keep the
same meaning throughout the entire game.
are allowed to exchange some or all of their tiles with new
tiles from the tile bag. If the player chooses to do this, the exchange
will be considered as their turn. To exchange tiles, the player must
draw from the bag the number of tiles s/he wants to replace. The player
then removes the same number of tiles from their rack and places them
into the tile bag.
player may challenge a word before the next player takes a
turn. The Dominatus glossary contains root meanings as well
as all possible valid words that can be constructed with the included
tiles. The glossary is used to validate challenges and that is the
only time the glossary may be consulted during the game.
If a word is challenged and turns out to be valid, the challenger
looses one turn. If a challenged word turns out to be invalid, the
player who placed the word must remove the tiles and looses that turn.
The challenger of an invalid word will receive the point value of
the word, not to include extra points from the bonus squares on the
game ends when...
no more plays can be made; or
a player uses all of their tiles after all tiles have been drawn.
point value of each tile is displayed on the bottom-right corner.
Blank tiles have no point value.
score for each turn is determined by adding the total of the tile
values to the total obtained from placement over bonus squares.
have the option of placing the tile over the entire bonus rectangle
or over half of it. If only half of the bonus area is covered,
subsequent players are allowed to obtain the bonus from the other
root squares are light blue or dark blue. The light blue squares
double the value of the root tile placed over it. The dark blue
squares triple the value of the root tile placed over it.
word squares are pink or red. The pink squares double the value
of the word if any tiles are placed on it. The red squares
triple the value of the word if any tiles are placed on it. If a word
covers a bonus root square and a bonus word square, add the bonus
roots then apply the word bonus.
that cover two bonus word squares will receive both bonuses. If the
word covers two pink squares it will receive four times the value.
Words covering two red squares will receive nine times the value.
squares are only applied when they are first covered. Roots
added to words that have already received a bonus will only receive
the point value of each root, not the bonus from a previous play.
a blank tile is placed over a pink or red bonus square, the bonus
will still be applied to the word.
two or more words are constructed within the same turn and cover a
bonus square, the bonus will only be applied to the word that covers
the end of the game, each player must add the point values
of each of their remaining tiles. The total points of the remaining
for each individual player must be subtracted from the holder's score.
If a player used all of their tiles, the sum of all of the other player's
tiles must be added to that player's final score.
player with the highest score wins.
there is a tie, the player with the most points before adding or subtracting
unplayed tiles wins.
Describe the process you went through in putting the game together.
What were your first thoughts? How did you enhance your ideas? What
ideas did you consider and reject (and why?). How did you gather background
information? What did you do to see if there are similar games out there?
What did you do to get feedback on the idea? How did you flesh out the
game to the point of having a playable prototype? How did you gather
feedback from that? What lessons did you learn from this that you'll
carry to your next game design project?
the early stages of the design process, we thought it would be adequate
to not require the exact spelling of words; the roots were the main
focus of the game. We then encountered problems with being able to clarify
certain words and decided that we would require exact spelling.
We had a couple of ideas on how to force exact spelling. One possibility
was to make several vowels freely available. The player could just draw
the vowel they needed from a "vowel pile". Another option
was to imprint word parts on tiles within parentheses to give the root
a wider range of applications. For example, "psych(o)" could
be used for "psychic" or "psychopath"
returned to our initial idea and decided to focus only on roots. We
selected roots that were very commonly used and unambiguous. This approach
produced a game in which the players can only create words that contain
we were ready to test our ideas, we constructed rectangular-shaped roots
out of paper and played the game on a Scrabble board. This process helped
us identify the rules for placement of the tiles. We realized that some
arrangements of tiles just didn't "feel" or "look"
right. See the middle "invalid" graphic at the end of the
rules section as an example.
testing, we discovered that if too many two-root words were played at
the beginning of the game, it would be very difficult or maybe even
impossible to continue. To alleviate this problem, we decided to include
four other starting points on the board. After everyone has had at least
one turn, the other starting points become available; this approach
keeps the game moving. The testing process was very beneficial and revealed
several problems with our early design.