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How to design a great game
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How to design a great game



Ken Eklund's, creator of World Without Oil, gives a presentation on game design at Planning-ness

Ken Eklund's, creator of World Without Oil, gives a presentation on game design at Planning-ness



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  • Alternate Reality Games are “what if?” games. What if code from the future was blown all the way back to our time, and it tried to reassemble itself on our Internet?
  • You don’t play in a set space. The game could be anywhere - on the web, on the street, in a park, texting your cell phone - anywhere.
  • Well, in real life it had people standing by to answer 400 pay phones all over the country when they all rang simultaneously, in the game I LOVE BEES.
  • What if you could see dead people in an online poker game?
  • You’d find yourself in graveyards, neatening up graves and paying respect to the dead, in LAST CALL POKER.
  • What if you found out a stolen car was headed for your town?
  • You’d be pretty much in the middle of a high-tech spy story – ART OF THE HEIST.
  • So now here’s a new twist. What if we reached the end of cheap oil? Not really a fantasy story, is it?
  • World Without Oil was a serious game for the public good, and instead of telling its story to people, it invited people to come participate in inventing and telling the story.
  • Some background on the game: Independent Television Service presented it - they are a non-profit public media company. The game is part of Independent Lens, known for high-quality documentary films. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting funded it - this is federal money for the public good. And Writerguy produced it - that’s me, I am Writerguy.
  • World Without Oil generated its energy by connecting four different trends. It was an Alternate Reality Game, and a Serious Game, and both of those game areas are growing very fast these days. It connected these two to the whole idea of “Web 2.0” - user-generated, participatory content, And last, World Without Oil also explored an area of alternative futures - or you might say simulations or “Historical Pre-enactments.” Science fiction writers often explore alternative futures in books and films, but this was the first time I know of where an alternative future was imagined and authored by thousands of people via a game.

How to design a great game How to design a great game Presentation Transcript

  • Ken Eklund Writerguy writerguy @ writerguy.com @ writerguygames Making Brands Matter or How Our Audience Saved The World Play Join Quilt Learn Save
  • Play
  • A state of play is the goal; a game is the device Play is common ground Play is personal and social Play is healthy Play is fun
  • WHAT IF ...code fragments of an Artificial Intelligence from the future were blown loose in time and crash-landed on a website on Earth?
  • ILoveBees, 2004 avantgame
  • ILoveBees, 2004
  • WHAT IF ...dead people could appear in online poker games and help you try to solve their murders?
  • Last Call Poker, 2005 avantgame
  • WHAT IF ...some secret plans were hidden in the MP3 player of a stolen car, and you could help find the car before the bad guys did?
  • Art of the Heist, 2005
  • WHAT IF ...people on Earth reached a point where there wasn’t enough oil to meet demand? In other words, what if we reached the end of cheap oil?
  • World Without Oil, 2007 Massively Collaborative Alternate Reality
  • Ruby’s Bequest An alternate reality game exploring the future of caring 2009 http://rubysbequest.org foreversouls
  • Join
  • Alice will teach us to play “ World Without Oil,” an Alternate Reality Game Alice is not a gamer and has no idea what an Alternate Reality Game is ALTERNATE REALITY GAMES Not a ‘virtual world’ Game is embedded in the real world ‘ Augmented Reality’ Collaborative ‘ What if?’ play
  • “ Wow, has the next oil crisis started? Take a look: worldwithoutoil.or g ” Alice is getting “in game”
  • Real life Alternate reality Alice is playing our game
  • Alice sends her story to us We read it and link to it
  • 1500 personal chronicles from all over the globe EASY TO PLAY Just play ‘what if’ Just tell your story Use tools you already know Just join in
  • Quilt
  • Interwoven narrative Player progression The wisdom of crowds Collective imagination Collective intelligence Mythology Citizen journalism Game design makes it active, participatory
  • What people said This experience has been just incredible for me. I've learned so much and started to think about even small things in my daily life in a new way... You show me that many really great people are out there… and that we will lead the way. – Epaxson I really mean it when I say World Without Oil changed my life. My friends, family and coworkers have all noticed the difference. In all seriousness, this entire thing has made me a different person. – FallingIntoSin Here there's no upper limit on the game play. Everyone can have some, and every piece actually matters, because the game play is shaping the story yourself through your writing, and carrying the lessons learned into your life. – KSG Act as if. Live it. Weave us into a possible future, let us picture ourselves in the middle of a plotline, rather than just spout out more statistics in a news item. – Evelyn Rodriguez It was real to me. – OrganizedChaos
  • Learn
  • Big Whiskey
  • By age 21, kids will have spent 5 years of 40-hour workweeks playing games.
  • http://tiny.cc/nytmit by SARA RIMER
  • “ striking change” “ hands-on, interactive, collaborative learning” “ attendance up, failure rate down” “ most students learn more successfully” when interacting and collaborating
  • More people learn better by collaborative, active play
  • My name is Clay Shirky. You’ve read my book, haven’t you?  HERE COMES EVERYBODY ?
  • Jane McGonigal www.avantgame.com Center for the Future of Museums
  • www.herecomeseverybody.org
  • Save
  • What we need is open, massively democratic, social, collaborative, positive and fun collective action Correcting the overshoot Rebooting our operating system Señor Codo
  • Play it – before you live it. “ If you want to change the future, play with it first” Señor Codo
  • Make your brand matter. Play Join Quilt Learn Save
  • Thanks IMAGE CREDITS: Sukanto Debnath, Big Whiskey, New York Times, Norbert Rosing, seq, avantgame, World Without Oil and its players, claygrl, Señor Codo, foreversouls, Joi, Web 2.0, doryexmachina
  • Ken Eklund, writerguy • writer g u y@ writer g u y .com
  • WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?? by Richard Garfield Someone names a category such as “Breakfast Cereals” or “Worst Superheroes” 30 seconds to make a list of up to 5 items that you think people will say belong in that category Everyone reads off their answers in turn You score a point for each other person that listed your answer You resolve ambiguities as a group