Archives for category: Local No.12


At the Different Games Conference this past spring, Colleen Macklin and I ran a workshop session called Queering The Metagame. Using Merritt Kopas’ “Queer Mechanics” design model (which we lifted from her essay Interrupting Play: Queer Games and Futurity), we encouraged players to hack into The Metagame and create their own cards, rules, and play rituals. 

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In just a few weeks, Local No. 12 (the game collective that consists of Colleen Macklin, John Sharp, and myself) will be unveiling the next phase of our culture-jamming card game the Metagame. Meanwhile, the earlier version of the game has been getting a nice amount of attention online. So feel free to kill time until the next Metagame drops with these articles and podcasts.

Indiecade, that quintessential festival of independent games, is happening in just about a month. And it’s going to be a very busy few days for me.

Two of my games – Interference and Armada d6 – were selected as finalists and will be on exhibit there. Another project I helped design, Local No.12’s Metagame, is an Official Selection and will be available to play throughout the festival. I’m also giving a talk about the act of *being* a game designer and I’ll be interviewing the amazing Bernie DeKoven for one of the keynote sessions.

There are many incredible games being presented this year and it’s an honor being part of the festival. Plus it’s a great excuse to spend a few days in California wandering among the games and talks with other independent developers.

See you in Culver City.

Just a quick note to recognize Jeff Rubin’s recent podcast that focuses entirely on discussions around the Metagame.

I’m listening to it as I write this post, but what I love about the podcast so far is the way that Jeff and his two competitors Adam Conover and Jared Logan immediately begin redesigning the rules. About 10 minutes in, and they have made modifications to judging, player rotation, debating time, and scoring.

The Metagame is meant to be more of a “tennis ball” than a single designed game (to use designer Charles Pratt’s term for games that encourage open play). Players always end up modifying the Metagame to suit their own needs – in this case, a version that works well as a highly entertaining podcast.

Far from “spoiling” the design of the game, this is the design of the game. And in any case, players doing things that you didn’t anticipate is the sweetest pleasure a game designer can experience.

The busiest week of my life every year, the Game Developers Conference 2012 was no exception. Even if I wasn’t giving a full slate of talks and panels, and organizing a conference-wide game, I’d still have my schedule full of meetings, conference sessions, and late-night socializing.

Overall, I was happy with my sessions. Richard LeMarchand came out on top of the Game Design Challenge, which this year was “Upgrade Humanity in 60 Seconds or Less” – design a game to improve people’s lives that took a minute or less to play. Constance Steinkhuler, a close friend and the current White House Czar on games, was on hand to deliver the prizes. Here’s a nice writeup on Jason Rorher’s entry – a game that involved tearing US currency into pieces.

The annual Rant Session blazed forward as well, themed on game developer parents holding forth on whatever they wanted. A personal highlight for me was seeing Frank Lantz and his game designer son James rant back to back – surely the start of a game industry dynasty. My own lecture, Let the Games be Games, was a theoretical dive into game design and aesthetics. I was happy with how it came out, but you can view it on the GDC Vault for yourself and let me know what you think.

Lastly, the Metagame returned for year two of massively multiplayer debating about videogames. GDC is surely one of the perfect contexts for the game – and we had more than 3,000 players arguing about games for the week of GDC. Special thanks to our sponsors BBC, Loot Drop, Microsoft, Parsons, and IGDA who made the game happen. And a big acknowledgement to iam8bit, who sold hundreds of Metagame decks and expansion sets in their bookstore booth.

I’m a glutton for punishment, and I have already begun thinking about next year’s conference. It will be the 10th anniversary of the Game Design Challenge, and I only promise that it is going to be a very different session next year… more to come.

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