Hospital Heights: a three dimensional version of Top Trump



TOP Trumps World Class Cars, vintage cards game. Photo via Ebay.

For the Copenhagen Play Festival the team has submitted a paper and a game. For our game proposal, we use the Eames’ cards system that we have already explored in our little video to create a sculptural version of TOP Trumps. The player will slowly build a sculpture out of the cards that feature both hospital and play spaces. The game expresses some of the themes developed through the AHRC Game project such as spaces, isolation and missed play. After doing some research on TOP Trumps, we found that Tate Modern appropriated the game in the context of their gallery and created an iPhone app Tate Trumps. Below is the final proposal and some picture of our research process.


Proposal for open call for board games: Hospital Heights: a three dimensional version of Top Trump
Caroline Claisse, Xinglin Sun, Elizabeth Wood and Dylan Yamada-Rice


This proposal is to present a sculptural board game called Hospital Heights that has derived from our Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded videogames network. The videogames network is developing videogames and play for hospitalised children. Currently, UK hospital play tends to be based on ‘traditional’ toys and games, with limited innovation in digital play, such as children using tablets/smart phones brought in by family visitors to access videogames. The network is exploring the considerable scope for development in the videogames industry, using expertise from the arts and humanities to co-create digital play opportunities that respond to the specific needs of hospitalised children, to stimulate their play experiences, imaginations and creativity when confined to medical and recovery spaces, and to connect with siblings and friends.

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 10.32.33 PM

The network for this project brings together academic researchers from different disciplines; videogames developers and hospital play specialists in a series of workshops, using multimodal and arts-based approaches. We have put in a separate proposal to share details of this project in the “Games Talk” part of the festival. In this section we are proposing to share a sculptural board game that has been developed to explore key themes of the AHRC project: spaces, isolation and missed play.

Set of cards featuring images that represent elements to do with hospitals or play.

Purpose vision and Form

The board game design has emerged in relation to one of the key aims of the AHRC project, which is concerned with crossovers between spaces inhabited by children in hospitals and their missed sites of play. In relation to this we have created a sculptural version of Top Trumps which merges key rules from that game with Eames’ House of Cards. We have named the game Hospital Heights. There are two key differences between Hospital Heights and Top Trumps, which make the game unique and a lot more fun! Each card contains a picture on one side relating to either hospital spaces or play in other sites such as the home, parks, natural and urban areas. The unique affordances of Hospital Heights are that the cards can be slotted together to form a sculpture which is a key part of the game play. Secondly within the sculpture players can add small scale figures and everyday accessories to customise the spaces they build.

  1. A pack of slotting paying cards (provided). Each card is printed on a thick material to allow players to build a structure.
  2. A small pack of Risk cards (provided).
  3. Small scale figures and play props of people, street furniture, play equipment, pets etc. (provided). The figures are painted in the six different colours that match the categories on the playing cards (This is explained in more detail later).
  4. Imagination !

Number of players: 2+ players (although the larger the number of people the smaller the sculptural building potential).

(A) Reverse side of cards featuring six categories (TBC) and (B) “Risk cards” that correspond to the six categories.

Game Equipment

  • A pack of slotting playing cards. Each card is double-sided. One side contains an image of either items related to hospital sites or to play in other sites, such as the home, park, urban space, forest etc. The reverse side features six categories (A). These are (1) Happiness, (2) Worry, (3) Playfulness, (4) Social interaction, (5) Physical movement (6) Quality of environment. Each category contains a number between 1-100 that relates to the image on the other side of the card.
  • A small pack Risk cards (B). The Risk cards relate to one of the above six categories. One card is picked at the start of the game and kept a secret by each player. The card encourages players to take risks in their game play (this is explained later).
  • (C) Small scale figures and play props of people, street furniture, play equipment, pets etc. The models are painted in six different colours to match the categories on the playing cards i.e ; Happiness, Worry, Playfulness, Social interaction, Physical movement and Quality of environment.

(C) Small scale models that are collected by the winner of each round.


  • Deal the cards equally between the players. Each player places the cards in a pile in front of them with the pictures face up and the categories face down. (1) Before starting the game each player picks a “Risk card” that they keep a secret and place to one side.


  • Player 1 starts by picking a card from the top of his/her deck and reading out a category from the reverse side of the card that they think will allow them to beat the other players (highest number wins). If the player wants to play safe, he/she will choose the category in which he/she has the highest score. However, to take a risk the player can choose the same the category featured on their Risk card. In this way if the player wins with the category which is featured on the Risk Card their end score will be doubled.
  • (2) The player with the best or highest value in the category chosen wins the other players’ cards and pick one small scale modle from the pile of the same colour as the category in which they won the round (eg. if player wins with “worry” category, she/ he will pick a pink figure)

(2) and (3). The catagories the cards feature wil be updates for the final game.

  • (3) The winning player of the round uses the cards won to start a sculpture making it bigger and more interesting each time they win a round. Adding the small scale models to the sculpture as they go along.
  • Steps 2-4 are repeated with the winning player of the last round calling out a category from their next card. If they lose the round it becomes another players’ turn to call out a category score of their choosing.
  • If two or more cards share the same value data then all the cards are placed in the middle and the same player chooses again from the next card. The winner of the hand takes the cards in the middle as well.
  • When players run out of cards it is time to count the little figures placed in their model that they have won.
  • Players reveal their special card and can double the count of any small scale models of the same colour.

The finished sculptures are an amalgamation of different environments representing how play is viewed by the AHRC network. That is that hospitalised children are renegotiating their play in relation to hospitalised spaces, missed sites of play, as well as across traditional and digital platforms.

Below are some of our early prototype:
photo 3

Prototype 1. Working out how the game would work with some extra elements such as little figures.

Prototype 2.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: