Cardboard Arcade

What is Cardboard Arcade?

Cardboard Arcade is a game system that anyone can use to develop their own games. The central mechanism is the Controller Deck and all games developed under Cardboard Arcade must use the Controller Deck in their design.

What is the Controller Deck?

The Controller Deck is the cornerstone of Cardboard Arcade games. The Standard Controller Deck consists of 50 standard cards, plus 4 optional cards customizable for each game. Most games will use one Controller Deck per player, but it is perfectly fine to develop systems that use shortened or extended decks and games where all players use the same deck! Games that use the Controller Deck as specified here will be annotated as Standard Deck games.

A Standard Controller Deck contains the following cards:

  • 10 – Up
  • 10 – Down
  • 10 – Left
  • 10 – Right
  • 5 – “A”
  • 5 – “B”
  • 4 optional cards unique to each Cardboard Arcade game

The 4 unique cards allow the Controller Deck to be adjusted for each game. This gives the designer the freedom to add more complexity while maintaining the integrity of a Standard Deck. These cards can be additional buttons such as “A”, “B”, “Start” or “Pause” or they may be thematic elements specific to the game. You are free to make these cards function however you like. Examples: Special Abilities that allow the player to draw more cards or Equipment which affects the player’s combat prowess.

See below for samples of the required Button Cards. Please note: you are allowed and encouraged to develop your own artwork and layout for the cards!

What type of game can I create with Cardboard Arcade?

The spirit of Cardboard Arcade is to re-create classic arcade games in cardboard form. That does not mean that you must create only arcade games utilizing the Controller Deck. You are free to apply the cards to any theme you feel fitting including theme-less abstract games.

How will games be distributed?

All games created for the Cardboard Arcade system will qualify to be hosted on The Creative Commons ShareAlike license means you are also free to distribute your creations on other websites or through other mediums as long as you license your work under similar terms. This includes any work specific to your game.

If you want to release your work in a commercial capacity, please don’t hesitate to ask! I am very open to waiving this clause!

Creative Commons License

You are free:

to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work
to Remix – to adapt the work

Under the following conditions:

Attribution – You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work). In this case, “Cardboard Arcade is © and ™ 2012 – Chevee Dodd:
Non-Commercial – You may not use this work for commercial purposes.
Share Alike – Share Alike – If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.

With the understanding that:

Waiver – Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder.
Public Domain – Where the work or any of its elements is in the public domain under applicable law, that status is in no way affected by the license.
Other Rights – In no way are any of the following rights affected by the license:

  • Your air dealing or fair use rights, or other applicable copyright exceptions and limitations;
  • The author’s moral rights;
  • Rights other persons may have either in the work itself or in how the work is used, such as publicity or privacy rights.

Notice – For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. That means including all pages of this document, unaltered.


Sample Cards

The cards shown here are sample Buttons for use in the Controller Deck.

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