You’re working on your game, and you are struggling to get it to come together.
Maybe it’s taking a long time to implement. Maybe you are in the middle of a large project and you’re getting sick of it. Maybe partway through you realize you haven’t even decided what experience you’re aiming for yet.
Maybe it’s time to take a short break to design a simpler game.
Brenda Romero’s introductory game design exercise is ideal in these situations. Instead of trying to create a completely unique and commercially-viable game, solving all of the various subproblems you find there, this exercise gives you a simple framework to build around while still giving you a chance to stretch your game design muscles.
Create a race-to-the-end board game, and iteratively build up a complete game. It doesn’t have to be something you can sell. It just has needs to be something you can point to and say, “I made it” and could be something you might whip together in a short period of time.
Doing these kinds of exercises is the equivalent of an artist sketching a quick drawing in a notebook with a pencil. It might not be lead to anything more, but it’s a way to actively engage your mind while also resting it for your main work.