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Amazon as a Board Game

Reimagining Amazon as a board game


Coursework for INST 711 - Interaction Design


Game Design
Heuristic Evaluation


Anshik Srivastava, Aadba Rasheed, Utkarsh Chhadva, and Philip Thompkins


Pen and Paper


1 Week

The Setting

Amazon vs the World is a deal-making, capitalist simulation card game for 2-4 players. One player takes the role of Amazon, corporate goliath, and other players become Amazon's beloved Buyers, looking to purchase goods. Together, players navigate a corporate ecosystem trying to meet their needs as quickly as possible.

Breaking down the Application

Evaluation through the lens of Ben Schniederman’s Eight Golden Rules of Design and Mechanical, Dynamic and Aesthetic Framework of Game Design

Ben Schniederman’s Rules are a set of ideals, or must-haves, for a particular interface to succeed in providing a seamless user experience. These can be used as a checklist to gauge that could be used during iterations to bring about improvements in the usability of the smallest components.

MDA is a process that imparts certain aesthetic goals that go through a dynamic model to further define how the goal could be achieved, and the mechanical model ascertains the actions that would fulfil the said dynamic. MDA offers a channel to bring about emotions, and gamification, into the application being designed. Gamification ensures that the experience of using the app invokes emotions that ensure the customer returns, or buys more, or spends more time using the said application. 

In the exercise, I found some components of the Amazon app, like the ‘add to cart’ function, that were validated by the rules of Ben Schniederman, while MDA explained the aesthetic goals behind them and how they were achieved through dynamics and mechanics

First Iteration of the Game


Ideation Process

Progress 1 (2).jpg
Progress 2.jpeg
1. The starting board (initial idea)
2. The board when the structure of the game was placed.
3. The final board (on the day of game play)

The Board and the Rules

Copy of Amazon Game - Initial Rules.jpg

The Cards

  • 50% off product

  • Free Delivery: -1$ from product cost for 2 rounds

  • Impulse Buy: Cannot skip buying

  • Financial Trouble: Skip product purchase this round

  • Amazon lost your delivery! Roll dice <10 for refund or lose cash

  • You win a Gift Card! + 2 $ in your wallet

  • Exchange or Return: Swap with player for a random product: OR return item to Amazon for $

  • Pay Full Price: No deals, Force buy

  • Duplicate product purchased: Pay 2x cost

Buyer Event Cards

Shopping List

  • NEED: Food & Health

  • WANT: Home or Electronics

  • NEED: Home & Food

  • WANT: Clothing or Electronics

  • NEED: Electronics &Clothing

  • WANT: Home or Health


  • NEED: Clothing & Home

  • WANT: Health or Food

  • NEED: Electronics and Health

  • WANT: Food or Clothing

Amazon Event Cards

  • North VA Hurricane: Roll d20, if <10,

    lose 5$

  • Union Strike: Lose 4$

  • Prime Day: For every purchase this round, gain 2$

  • Inflation: +2$ cost this round

  • News Scandal! Lose 3$

  • Stocks Are up: Win 3$, Buyers get a discount of 1$ on their purchase this round

  • Stocks Down: Lose 2$

  • Hostile Takeover of a Brand: +Gain 2$

  • Fake Reviews: Gain 2$, buyers lose 1$ each

  • Celebrity Endorsement : Lose 2$

First Run of the game to gain feedback


Changes made after the first run:

  1. Physical Money: Add physical money so players can see transactions and feel competitive.

  2. Changed Vocabulary: We changed "Amazon Karma" cards to "Amazon Events" and we would add more dynamic Events in the next iteration.

  3. Win condition for Amazon: The Amazon player doesn't have much to do, so we added Amazon Corporate Goal cards with sets of five goals, which have to be bought one at a time. This gives the Amazon player a goal and victory condition, and a reason to pay attention to their money.

  4. Title: We changed the title of the game to "Amazon vs the World" to match the tone the players brought to the game.

  5. Passing: Some rounds had players rejecting the products they drew, which could lead to awkward pauses. Now, all product cards are drawn at the start of the turn, and if someone decides not to buy a product, another player can do so.

  6. Loss condition for Amazon: For Amazon to have a clear loss condition, we added that they can't go under $7, half of their starting $15." (Rule included but wasn't applied during the game for simplicity)

The Game

The Board

We incorporated changes made after the feedback recieved earlier. The final iteration of the board game is as below: 
Copy of Amazon Game - Final Iteration.jpg



  • Amazon owns this land, converting its resources into Products at its factory, and turning resources into Deals of the Day and Amazon Events. The Amazon player must balance income from its marketplace with meeting its corporate goals and weathering the storms of operating a global, all-consuming business.

  • Amazon WINS when: they purchase all five of the ambitions listed on their Corporate Goals card and have changed the world forever. Amazon LOSES when: they fall below $7 in their off-shore money pits and their shareholders revolt.


  • Buyers exist to spend their money at Amazon's diverse, globally-sourced, convenient marketplace. Buyer players must complete their Shopping Lists without spending all of their money in the process, putting blind faith in the Deals of the Day while they dance with the corporate devil.

  • The Buyers WIN when: they have at least $1 and have met the NEEDS and one WANT from their Shopping List card. The Buyers LOSE when: they hit $0 and can no longer buy from Amazon.



  • Scenic game board!

  • (1) to-scale plastic model of an Amazon delivery truck. (Choking hazard.)

  • Paper money ($100 total)

  • Product cards (15 shown)

  • Amazon Corporate Goal cards (1 shown)

  • Amazon Event cards (10 shown)

  • Buyer Shopping Lists (5 shown)

  • Buyer Deal of the Day cards (10 shown)

  • D20 dice

Game Flow

Starting Play

  • All players, Amazon and Customers, start with $15.

  • Place ten Deal of the Day and Amazon Event Cards in the numbered locations on the board.

  • Buyers each draw a Shopping List card, and Amazon draws a Corporate Goals card.

  • All Buyers roll the d20 to determine who is best connected to the Northern Virginia server farms and gets to browse first. If there's a tie, the tied players re-roll the d20 until one rolls higher.

Capitalism Loop - Loading Phase

  • Amazon, as the antagonist of the world, begins every turn by drawing an Amazon Event as it influences the global economies.

  • Amazon may choose to purchase one of its Corporate Goals.

  • Each Customer draws one Product card that loads in their Amazon application of choice.

Capitalism Loop - Browsing Phase

  • The Buyer that rolled their d20 the highest gets to engage with their Product first. The Amazon Delivery Truck moves to the (X) on the board closest to the Buyer. The Buyer must decide whether they are interested in buying the Product they have discovered.


  • If the Buyer chooses to buy the Product, they must draw a Deal of the Day card from the field as Amazon exerts its influence. The Deal of the Day and Amazon Event cards may collectively influence the final price of the Product as the transaction occurs.

  • If the Buyer runs out of money, they Lose the game and are unable to take any more turns.

  • The final paid cost of the Product goes to Amazon.

  • If the Buyer chooses not to buy the Product, other Buyer may choose to do so instead. If multiple Customers wish to buy the Product, they both roll the d20 and the higher roll gets to buy.

The Amazon Delivery Truck then moves clockwise to the next Buyer, skipping the bathrooms at the Amazon Factory. When all Products have been purchased or passed, return to the Loading Phase.

This loop continues until one player WINS, all Buyers complete their Shopping Lists or go bankrupt, or Amazon LOSES, depending on the players' generosity.

Key Takeaways

This was my first project in the interaction design course. As this was a class activity, it was intersting to see how other groups have broken down their respective applications and made games out of them.

This project taught me basics of game design and gamification - and how various organizations incorporate them in their design frameworks. 

All in all, this exercise was pure fun!
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