Over The Wall Backyard Game Rules

Northeastern University

October 17, 2014

Mark Sivak

Professor, Engineering

Northeastern University

Dear Professor Sivak,

I am happy to report our success in completing our minor design project with the creation of our lawn game “Over the Wall.”  This project was about how there is an importance in having more easily played games to make people active as well as being able to be played by all types of people, including the disabled.

The first thing we did was to think of games that we had played previously, or had experience with. We used that as a jumping block for brainstorming ideas of our own.  Once we found a good idea that we like we explored it more and started to come up with a plan.  We then started to gather the materials to make the game and fix any problems that came up. Then we tested it and finalized the rules of the game, to maximize enjoyment.

The game we created is called “Over the Wall.”  It is a throwing game where two teams of two people compete to have the most points. Points are earned by throwing bags of rice over a wall/barrier and having your partner help you aim so as to get the bags of rice in the bins which each have a different points value. Because one of the teammates is only looking and one is only throwing this could be easily played by disabled people who can’t walk, see, throw, or even more.  This report will include the process of creating the game as well as specifics about the game itself.

We look forward to demonstrating Over the Wall.


Rebecca Frank

Nora Callahan

Daniel Bartels








Needs Assessment


The purpose of making a yard game is to make a new way for people to get outside, enjoy fresh air, be healthy and competitive and spend quality time with each other regardless of physical ability. The yard game will ideally be played outdoors in a field or yard. Space required should not be larger than a reasonably sized suburban lawn, as consumers like schools, camps, and families will be the primary beneficiaries of the yard game. Many popular yard games already exists such as, bocce ball, corn hole, and croquet. Most of these, aside from corn hole are individual games and corn hole cannot easily be played by one with limited to no use of his or her upper extremities or a blind person


Our approach to the problem is a game setup that looks like volleyball, but where the net usually is there is an opaque curtain obstructing view from one half of the field to the other. Three targets of varying point values are set up on either side of the tarp for bean bags to be tossed into from the opposite side of the curtain. Two teams of two face off. one player stands behind the endline and in between the sidelines. This is the tosser. The other teammate stands on the sideline and can see where the targets are. This second teammate, the “navigator” gives the first teammate verbal instruction on where to throw the bean bags. The team with the most points at the end of a round wins that round.


Disability Adaptability

Over The Wall is able to be played by anyone, even if a person has a disability that would normally prevent them from playing other games. The gameplay and rules of the game allow all different people to get involved. For example, people with limited use of their lower extremities are able to fully participate in the game. If they are instructing their teammate on where to throw the bean bag, they can sit at the edge of the playing area and see both sides. People with limited use of their lower extremities would also be able to sit in a stationary position on their side of the field while throwing the bean bags into the bins on the other side. Over The Wall is also able to be played in a limited format by people with other disabilities as well. Players with limited use of their upper extremities may not be able to throw the bean bags over the wall, but they will be able to instruct their teammate where to toss the bags. Deaf people will be able to instruct their teammate where to throw the bean bags as well. Even a blind person could participate in the game. Since the teammate throwing the bean bags is not able to see where the bag is supposed to be thrown, the thrower could essentially be blind and still successfully participate in the game. Over The Wall is very accessible to people with disabilities and is meant to be played by people of all different skill levels no matter what their limitations may be.


Problem Formulation


The problem was to create an outdoor game which does not exclude those with physical disabilities and encourages outdoor activity. The constraints were to design a yard game that can be set up easily, played relatively intuitively, and can be adapted for individuals with disabilities. There was a budget of $40 for the purchase of materials. The game must be unique to all existing games, incorporate physical equipment, and have scoring that is readily tracked. There must be some skill involved. It must be playable to win in approximately thirty minutes and not be decided too early by a single front runner. The field will be 12ft x 7.5ft and the space must be able to house an eight foot high curtain and have space above that curtain for bean bags to be thrown over.


Subproblems may include the verbal directions not being as effective as originally thought causing the game to be more dependent on luck that originally intended. A significant problem that came up was how to keep the poles up. Many ideas were thought up and considered but we were limited by cost and the carrying capacity of one person. These ideas included two strings from the top of each pole going down to two stakes in the ground. This idea would be costly. Another idea was to put each pole into a sand or rice filled bucket. two buckets would be hard for one person to carry when they have to carry the poles, tarp and bean bags as well.A third idea was to simply sink the poles, themselves into the ground. We foresee this idea working best in fairly dense or wet sand and in the absence of much wind. Our final idea was to have the navigator (or the teammate on the sideline with full view of the goals giving verbal directions to the tosser) hold up the pole, though this idea limits the navigator’s movement and therefore his or her potential to be optimally effective.  



Abstraction/Synthesis and Analyses of Alternatives


We first came up with games that already existed such as Bocce Ball, Croquet, and bean bag throwing games. We also started thinking about trust exercises where one person can’t see what’s going on and has to rely on their team mate for guidance. Our game was lastly also inspired by net based games, such as volleyball, where it is required for something to go over a net, or in our case a wall.


After all of the brainstorming and throwing ideas around we specifically decided on something where an object is thrown over a wall that blocks view, so they have to rely on their teammate to know where to throw, and how they are doing. We decided to do this because it is optimal for people with limitations, and does not require a lot of skill. Most people can throw, and even if they can’t they can still be the person instructing their teammate on where to throw, hence the two player teams, so that everyone has a way they can participate. In other games this degree of participation was not possible, and that is why those other ideas were rejected.


A big question was deciding what to throw. Bean bags seemed very logical, but were too expensive to buy, as were any other sorts of balls. Our solution was to make our own bean bags out of Ziploc bags of rice. For the problem of the wall, we knew we wanted to use some sort of poles like how nets are set up. The PVC pipes came in ten foot long segments which we got cut into two 4 foot segments, to make it easier to transport. These segments have a connector to make two 8 foot tall poles. The next problem was the actual wall, which needed to be able to block vision. Our solution was to use black trash bags, which opaque would make it so you can’t see the other side.  Another big problem was getting bins of the same size so that the teams have equal footing.  We found pizza boxes which is the medium size, hula hoops to be the largest and easiest, and recycling bins to be the smallest and hardest to get. The harder it is the more points it is worth.


After solving all the physical problems, we next had to figure out the rules system. One idea was to make it a sort of around the world, where you had to make it in the basket from different spots on the field, but this seemed too complicated and not as fun.  We decided on it being a team game, to get people more competitive, and naturally each team must have two people on it for the purpose of the game is one person being able to see and one having to throw. We decided to have four rounds so that each team can equally switch off as to the part they do, although this can easily be altered however people want to play. A big question though, was how play should go during the games. There were many good ideas, which we decided to include as alternative ways to play. We also had to figure out how much points each would be, and decided on 1 for the easiest, 3 for the middle, and 7 points for the hardest one. We almost did 5 points for the hardest but because it is so much harder, we thought that should be reflected in the points.












Materials Amount Cost (in US Dollars)
Poles 2 16
Pole Connectors 2 2
Garbage Bags 9 4
Duct Tape part of a roll 0
Hula Hoops 2 5
Pizza Boxes 2 0
Recycling Bins 2 0
Rice 5 lbs 5
Ziploc Bags 14 0
String roll 3
Pencils 4 0



Implementation/ Final Design Description/ other factors

We used easy to transport materials in our design, so that it can be easily broken down and moved. Although all the materials are light it might be a little hard for one person to carry all the parts by themselves, because of the odd shapes of the objects. However, you need four people to play anyways so it would most likely not be necessary for one person to carry all the materials themselves.

Our final design is that of three sizes of things to aim into and a wall made of bags on pvc poles to throw bags of rice over to attempt to gain points. It is a team building game, where two people have to work together. There are different ways to play so as to make the game fit the players abilities.  For more information about how to play see the official over the wall rule guide. Testing this game helped us to realize different things and to better understand it and fix problems.

I predict that this game will be very enjoyable for all types of people, and will help foster camaraderie among partners as they must learn to effectively work together. Depending on how you play, the game can be laid back or intense which is another strength of the game as it can adapt for different preferences.

This game could be advertised very effectively, however I believe it would do better with a sleeker, classier design then we were able to create. While I think people would enjoy it, it would get in the way if it was just sitting in people’s lawns as it is very tall and in the way. While it has its drawbacks, it could definitely become a very popular game with good marketing.



Score Sheet


Round Team 1 Team 2
1 6 7
2 3 8
3 13 4
4 5 10



Reflections/Lessons Learned


The project was a good way to follow the design cycle, though If there were a few due dates spread out as opposed to one we could have seen clearer distinctions between iterations. We didn’t realize how much thought and engineering went into the creation of simple yard games.


A few lessons were learned as we tested Over The Wall. Sandwich bags will sometimes pop when they hit the ground if there is too much air in them and using two bags is a good idea. It is helpful as the tosser to point an arm in the direction of the throw and ask for confirmation from the navigator. Points can be optimized by placing the 7-point bucket directly in front of the 3-point box, so this should not be done when placing the other team’s goals. If we had more money we’d make sure to use one of our more substantial, stand alone ideas of ways to keep the tarp up, like the stake idea.



Over The Wall Official Rule Guide


  • Game net (two 8’ poles, one 7 1/2’ x 8’ black tarp)
  • Two 1 point hoop targets
  • Two 3 point box targets
  • Two 7 point bin targets
  • 14 bean bags
  • 4 stakes with string to make the field
  • 4 people (teams of 2)


The object of the game is to throw bean bags over the wall to score more points than the other team.


Stick the poles of the wall into the ground. Next, stretch out the string and insert the pencils to create a 7 1/2’ x 6’ field on each side. Use the pencils to mark the corners of the rectangular field. Separate the bean bags so that each team has 7



At the start of each round, one player from each team will be deemed the “thrower” and one the “guide”. The teams will then take time to set up their targets in any formation within their side of the field. Next, the thrower will move to the edge of the field. When the thrower is throwing a bean bag, he/she must remain behind the 6’ line on the field. Finally, the guide will move to to the side of the field so that he/she is easily able to see the other teams field. Gameplay begins. Each thrower will take turns throwing their bean bags over the wall with the help of their guide to tell them where each target is located. After all 7 bean bags have been thrown, the points will be added up and the round will end. When the round is over, teams have the opportunity to rearrange the locations of their targets, and the teammates will switch positions so that the guide is now the thrower and vice versa.



In the recycling bin = 7 points

In the pizza box = 3 points

Inside the Hula Hoop = 1 point`

If the bean bag is on the edge of one of the targets, it still counts for the points of that target


Other Ways to Play

Speed Round

Each round is played within a time limit of 45 seconds. Get as many points as you can within the time slot!

Race To the Finish

There is no time limit on throwing the bean bags, but when one team finishes throwing their bags, the other team must stop throwing theirs as well. Who will throw all of their bags first?


Over The Wall: How


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