I love making games for any occasion. Figment is a game I designed for a book.

When friends and colleagues Thom Bartscherer and Roderick Coover approached me to contribute something to their book Switching Codes, I told them as a game designer I’d rather make a game than write an essay. Switching Codes is a book from the University of Chicago Press about dialogs between technologists, artists, and scholars, and I decided to make a game that literally re-mixes the interdisciplinary discourse of the book.

Figment takes the form of cards that you cut out of the book (or you can download the PDF and rules here if you want to keep your volume intact). Each card has a snippet of text taken from one of the essays in the book, and by playing your cards in combination, you make statements alternately profound and absurd. Players must follow the rules of grammar while also making statements that other players deem as genuinely insightful. The first one to play all their cards wins.

Part Apples to Apples and part Exquisite Corpse, Figment always seems to inspire both deep philosophical conversations as well as hysterical laughing fits. I like the way that Figment intervenes playfully in the rest of the book, using unsuspecting essays as its raw material and encouraging readers to deface the object they just purchased. And the rules of Figment don’t have to be applied just to Switching Codes – with the properly chosen source texts, Figment is a process that could be applied to other documents as well.

I’d love to hear from you if you play the game! Post here on my blog or drop me an email at e @ ericzimmerman.com.