Culture games week 3

This week we presented our ideas to the class. These included our meme-Dixit game, a new version of the tile games that has triangular shaped pieces and plays like Triple Triad from the Final Fantasy series, and the ‘Meme Wars’ role play game.

Out of these I think the most successful was the Dixit game, for similar reasons as last week. I think it was the only one of our games that really worked in the way we were hoping it to. The triple triad one had many flaws, including the fact that the cards were transparent and therefore flipping them was useless, and also that it simply wasn’t fun to play. It didn’t seem to have much relevance to the original idea we had about the relationship between creators, consumers and trolls/flamers either, so once again I think we lost sight of what we were trying to achieve with our game.

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Triple triad meme game pieces. Trolls (trollface) beat creators (doge), creators beat lurkers (chrome incognito symbol), lurkers beat trolls.

The game itself became spectacularly over-complicated due to the fact that instead of just beating a piece by putting one of your pieces next to it (eg. put a piece with a trollface next to a piece with a doge), you would then have to swap the piece you beat for one of your own that not only beat the other pieces it was attached to, but also your piece. So each turn would require 2 pieces, which had to beat up to 4 symbols including one that you would be placing that turn.

Similarly, the ‘Meme Wars’ (as the group dubbed it) game failed for reasons I speculated about last time, but also because the people from outside our group who joined in to the play test didn’t really understand what was going on, and weren’t as familiar with our cards as we were.

Again, this does kind of show the way that people who join into an ‘internet phenomena’ part way through may not always understand what is going on, or why and how it became like this. While the game seemed to be really cool for people in our group, it fell a bit flat with others, and trying to enforce more structure on it, to make it more understandable for them, just made it less interesting in my opinion.

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Our rules and initial portraits

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Gameplay rules: Arrow keys to walk; player talks with other characters and can affect their mood with the conversation choices; a key can be pressed to open the phone menu. – by me

We created a simple, visual representation of the rules in our game. Because it is mostly driven by the narrative and dialogue choices, our game does not have many rules to it.

The keys I have shown in this poster are simply an example – it is possible they will be changed by the time we complete our final build.

I have also been considering ideas for character  to fill the roles of other ‘safe people’, if we were to expand our game to a full version.

Culture games week 2

The group continued making various different games and play testing them. We came up with several ideas, some better than others. We continued with our game-style theme of cards, but branched out to different sizes and shapes instead of just traditional playing cards.

These two games involved a simple paper-scissors-rock mechanic, where troll beats meme, meme beats lurker and lurker beats troll. The logic behind it is that a troll harasses a contributor (‘meme creator’ or just ‘meme’ for short), a contributor draws out a lurker from their hiding space, and a lurker is untouchable by a troll because trolls cant harass what isn’t there.

The first game simply involved two players (pink and blue) taking turns playing pieces next to a piece they could beat. The previous piece is then flipped to their colour, and the person with the most pieces in their colour when they ran out of pieces to play, would win. We quickly realised this game had several flaws, one of the main ones being the fact that the players were completely balanced, so whoever played first would inevitably lose.

The second game was similar, but with octagonal pieces that had some sides with meme, lurk and troll, and back sides that have skulls on them instead of a different colour/word.

Our third and fourth games used the same deck of ‘meme’ cards, which simply consisted of memes and funny pictures we found on the internet.

The first game we created was based on Ben’s suggestion of making something like Dixit. One player chooses a card from their hand of 5, says something they think some people will relate to the card, and then places it face down on the table. The other players each choose a card from their hand that they think might confuse the issue (or just a random card), and also places it face down. The cards are all shuffled together, and flipped face up. The players then vote on which card they think is the first player’s, and points are awarded depending on how the votes are placed. The original player gets points based on the number of votes they got, but none if everyone voted for them. The other players can get points for the latter condition, if the first player got no votes, or if they were voted for.

I find this game to be the most interesting so far, and possibly the most successful in that it centers around the idea of memes as funny, but also things that people know about and can relate to each other through – or not. I think it worked very well, because there were always some people who understood what other’s were referencing and some who didn’t, which is exactly what you aim for in Dixit. In a way, it reflects our information age culture, where people make references to other things all the time, and in order to understand them, you either have to be in the know, or good at guessing.

The last ‘game’ we made was more of a freestyle role play, where the cards served as the base you created your action from – for example, using the Phoenix Wright ‘Objection’ card to dispute the previous player’s actions, or the ‘This is fine’ card to shrug them off. While it was an interesting idea, I think it worked better when we originally came up with it, as a purely spontaneous thing. The second round, where we tried to do it on purpose seemed a lot more forced and unnatural, and several players did almost nothing because they weren’t really sure what to do.

On one hand, I think this is a great demonstration of how things on the internet can spontaneously spawn into something awesome, and possibly even reflects how a meme is created – one person says it, other people think it’s cool and copy them, and then it becomes a big thing, but also possibly looses some of the ‘magic’ it had the first time, and it then starts loosing interest. On the other hand, it’s very hard to bring this type of thing to present it, because the energy and excitement of the first version isn’t there. For that reason, I don’t really think we should present this one, despite what the rest of the group thinks.

Rules

Today we looked at the rules behind the game of Pac Man.

In order to visually describe how the rules around Ghost Behaviour and Death work in Pac Man, we made a simple maze area, and several puppets similar to what we used in our paper prototype. We then demonstrated the different ghost behaviours as follows:

  • Blinky, the red ghost, chases the player
  • Pinky, the pink ghost, goes around and ambushes the player
  • Inky, the blue ghost, has a ‘fickle’ mood, which translates to him aiming for a spot twice as far away as Blinky is from the point two places in front of the player
  • Clyde, the orange ghost, will chase the player until he gets close, then he will run to the bottom left corner of the map

We also demonstrated the ghosts turning dark blue and running away when the player gets a power pellet, and that they can kill the player if they catch up.

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Culture games week 1

My group has decided tentatively on ‘internet culture’ as our theme. We are looking at different types of games related to the sort of social environment that exists online, and also the idea that people use different personas when they are online.

Our first game idea (courtesy of Toby) is a card game similar to spoons where you are trying to make a set of 5 of the same ‘identity’ card suits – based on a few common ‘people’ stereotypes: hipster, gangster, white girl and weaboo. (These were not in any way supposed to encompass every person, or even most people’s identities.)

During our two playtests, we found that there were several rules that we had to add or remove to make the game work better. Our original idea had been more aimed at negotiation where the point was to try and trade cards with each other to get the set you wanted, which would have required the players hands to be visible to other players. There was also a rule that as you played the game, if someone could figure out what identity you were collecting, they could call you out on it and you would be out of the game (round?). When we switched to a game where the players hands were not public knowledge, several of our other rules had to be removed as well. 

While I think the game we ended the session with is better than what we started with, I feel like we may have lost some of our core ideas about Internet stereotypes in our quest to make it playable.

Paper Prototype

We created a paper prototype version of our game, and then filmed ourselves moving the parts to simulate what the gameplay of our final project might be like.

Here are some of the paper ‘assets’ we used:

Edit: This is the video.