Archives for the month of: August, 2011

Online game site / database / blog Giant Bomb has recently gone on a Metagame kick. They have pooled the Metagame cards they collected at GDC this past spring and over the last several days, they have been posting videos of their metagame duels. You can see the videos on their blog page.

What I like even more than the mix of connoisseurship and trash-talking that characterizes their debate style is the way that they are evolving the game design. They have invented their own variation on how to conduct debates, which in the most recent videos combines collaborative selection of a comparison card and completely random selection of each player’s game card. Then they ask people online to vote on the winner.

I’ve said this before on this blog, but I will say it again: the more we play with the Metagame, the more we realize it is not a game, but a game system.¬†Like a set of standard playing cards, you can play a wide variety of games with a Metagame deck. Many of the comments on the Giant Bomb videos point in yet different directions for the game design.

The Metagame is still in pre-release (we just posted an update about our progress on Kickstarter) but it’s so fantastic that people are finding ways to play. It is difficult for me to describe just how exciting it is to see this kind of player creativity bubbling up. The sweetest pleasure for a game designer is seeing your game played in ways that you never anticipated, and Giant Bomb is a whole lotta sugar for me.

Keep up the great work, Giant Bomb!

Online game site 1UP has posted a short piece on the five must-read game design books. I’m proud to see Rules of Play, the book I wrote with the brilliant Katie Salen, at the top of the list. One of the comments under the article disparages Rules of Play because it reads too much like a textbook. Luckily, that’s exactly what it is!

Late-breaking addition to this post: I just found out that Rules of Play – as well as The Game Design Reader, the anthology that Katie Salen and I edited – are among the handful of recommended game books on the Games for Change book resources page. Thanks, G4C!

Two new pieces recently appeared about Starry Heavens, the game installation I created with Nathalie Pozzi for the Museum of Modern Art. The Paris Review’s emphasis on the moral dimensions of games demonstrates more game design smarts than usually appears in mainstream media coverage of games. The Wall Street piece just mentions Starry Heavens in passing but has some nice quotes about the exhibition as a whole.

For those of you who have been requesting Starry Heavens images – I’ll be posting photos and a video soon. Stay tuned!

While Local No. 12 is busy at work designing a new deck of Metagame cards for our Kickstarter supporters this fall, we have already embarked on another edition of the game. The art magazine Esopus has comissioned a version of the Metagame, and for that issue (coming out in January) we are expanding the game. Rather than just debating games, the Esopus edition will be about all kinds of culture from the last 100 years – from art and architecture to film and television to comics and literature.

We’re actively playtesting the new version of the game now, and yesterday John Sharp and I stopped by the Esopus offices for a playtest of the game with about 25 of the magazine’s readers. Learning the game rules were a little bit of a hurdle for these decidedlynon-gamers, but the good news is that once they got the hang of things, they LOVED the game.

The game had a bit of the feeling of the Glass Bead Game from Herman Hesse’s Magister Ludi. Playing the game turns human culture into a playfield, and to do well requires a mix of cultural knowledge, strategic thinking, social psychology smarts, and the ability to articulate your case well.

We’re finding more and more that the Metagame is not just a single game, but a game system (like a deck of cards) that supports multiple different games. We’re going to be publishing two of our parlor game variants in the magazine. Knockout is a highly social game where players debate and vote on the WORST ¬†player’s argument each round. Verdict is a more strategic game that doesn’t have any debating at all.

Esopus has published more pictures of the playtest on their Facebook page. Stay tuned for more Metagame developments…

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