I am a Pride and Prejudice fanatic. I’ve seen every movie, television series, and watched or read too many adaptations to count. Eventually, I got the itch to create my own Pride and Prejudice inspired thing. I tried writing some fan-fiction at first, but that was not really my cup of tea. A few years earlier my husband had written his masters thesis on game design and created an educational board game about diabetes management. I watched him go through the process and, like any good spouse, proofread his paper. This combination of experiences gave me the idea to create a game based on my favorite book. I decided this would be the direction to focus my creative energies, and so I designed Marrying Mr. Darcy: the Pride and Prejudice Card Game.
Being an Austen super-fan, I thought about making a game that other Austen fans would want to play. What does every Janeite want to experience? There were two main decisions I made early on that ended up staying through the entire design process. First, I decided that the game should have a role-playing element where you choose which lady you want to play as. Don’t we all secretly want to be Elizabeth, or see a bit of ourselves in one of the other Bennet sisters? (Alas, I have more Mary in me than Elizabeth.) The other convenient thing about playing a game as one of the ladies is that they were really in a relatively weak position in society. They had limited options of how they could secure their own comfort. The entire novel is Austen satirizing a society where marriage was really the only respectable option for these characters. So the second idea that really stuck was that a main goal of the game should be marriage. Since the central drama of the book is that the women must marry, this should be incorporated into the win scenario of the game.
As the game developed, there were three other main mechanics that took shape in the final version, and were all drawn from either the book itself or Regency society. First, the plot points of the story manifested in the event card deck. There are several critical plot points in the book, such as Lydia eloping, Darcy’s surprise proposal, and Bingley leaving Netherfield for London. Just like in the book, each of these events has significant consequences in the game and in some cases can force players to rethink their strategy.
The second mechanic relates to resource management. Daughters of the landed gentry, such as the Bennet sisters, were not able to take on employment. These ladies spent their time sewing, practicing the piano, drawing, and becoming as accomplished as they could. Much of this activity was intended to make them more attractive as potential wives for the gentlemen who might court them, and these activities often ceased once they were actually married. In the game, players must build up their character with various traits to earn game winning points for their own accomplishments, as well as to attract the interest of the various suitors.
Finally, the ending proposal stage incorporates a press your luck mechanic. In all of Austen’s novels, it is the man who always holds the power to propose. In the game, players must roll the dice to see if a suitor proposes to them, so the outcome is outside the player’s control. However, as Elizabeth demonstrates with Mr. Collins, a lady always has the power to either accept or decline. This holds true in the game as well. Players will likely be faced with the decision of whether to accept an early proposal from a suitor worth fewer points, or decline and take their chances hoping for another proposal down the line.
All of these game mechanics in Marrying Mr. Darcy were chosen to best replicate the experience of being one of these female characters in the book. It is meant to create an immersive experience where players must act with the limited power they have to secure their heroine’s future happiness. The event cards replicate the everyday occurrences of Regency life, as well as the plot of the story itself. Even the choice to make the game playable using cards is meant to replicate the experience of sitting at a card table to entertain your guests after supper as they do so often in Pride and Prejudice.
This edition of Pride and Prejudice is intended to be a companion to the game, Marrying Mr. Darcy. The annotation directs the reader to endnotes, which illustrate how a certain card, strategy, or mechanic in the game was inspired by that particular element in the novel. This highlights some of the stratagems of the various characters as they attempt to secure their own comfort and happiness in the book, as players might attempt to do while playing the game. The names of various cards appear in quotations to separate them from surrounding text.