Brainstorming? Filter Lists: how to use them + template!

One of the simplest yet most effective #gamedesign tools I’ve ever created in my 10-year career is the humble *Filter List.*

Filter Lists are a fast and furious way to get light analytical data about potential game concepts. I created them out of a need to quickly cut down a high number of brainstormed ideas. The process is easy as heck, and I now use it *every single time* I brainstorm, without fail.

How to Use Filter Lists

Start by creating a Google Sheets or Excel doc and drop all of your game concepts into the doc. (See Picture 3)

Next, work with your team to decide on 3-5 “filters” or scoring categories that matter to your development. (See Picture 4) Common ones I use are:

Scope: How much effort/time/money it will take to build this game
Hook: Do we expect that this concept will catch eyes
Monetizable: Do we see a clear and understandable way to make money
Personal Excitement: How pumped is the team is for the concept

After that, run through every game concept as quickly as you can and drop a score from 1-6 in each filter category. (See Picture 5)

Why 1-6? It means you have no perfect middle (when I did 1-5 I always found myself droppin’ 3s) but it has a limited enough option set that the difference between a 3 and a 4 is significant.

Once you finish doing this, total the score for each game (See Picture 6) and viola! You have an extremely quick and dirty set of numbers for the viability of each game concept!

WARNING: While this technique is valuable, it is *extremely biased.* You will find yourself often scoring your favorite concepts much higher than others. Do your best to be honest about each score.

Final Tips!

If you want to get advanced (and help avoid bias) you can create a doc that combines multiple team members’ scores together. You can also add a “weight” to each filter that implies that one category is more important to your team than another. Finally, this is a valuable exercise for features, not just entire game concepts. Trying to brainstorm a new boss for Level 2? Filter it!

And there you have it! The simple post-brainstorm exercise known as “Filter Lists.” Give it a try!


Here, I’ll even give you an exercise. You have 2 minutes to brainstorm and then 3 minutes to filter down to a single idea using the following prompt: “Narrative Choice Game where the player leaves the game inspired to do *something*” Drop your top idea in the comments!

Just remember to spread where you learned this from. Willem, the Wizard o’ Joy 😉

Quick Links:

Simple Filter List

Advance Filter List

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