EquiSCRIBBLEum – Scribblenauts evil twin (Lesson 6 homeplay)

This is homeplay for Lesson 6 “games as art/art as game” of the free online course “Game Design Concepts”; details available at http://gamedesignconcepts.wordpress.com/

The challenge, in brief was:
“…a choice of designs, based not on experience level… but on area of interest… four options, all inspired by the “non-digital shorts” at the end of the Challenges [course text] chapter [17]:

  1. Option 1 (Creating emotions): Design a non-digital game that introduces children to the concept of grief. Post the rules and required components. If desired, also include commentary on how you approached this problem and why you think your game does (or does not) succeed.
  2. Option 2 (Persuasion): Modify the board game RISK to advocate world peace. Post your changes to the original rules. If desired, also include commentary on what you were trying to do, whether you think you were successful, and why or why not.
  3. Option 3 (Exploring the boundaries of games): Design a game that has intentionally incomplete rules, requiring player authorship of rules during the play of the game in order for it to be playable. Post your (incomplete) rules.
  4. Option 4 (Exploring the nature of the medium): Choose a digital game that you consider to be artistic and inspiring. Create the rules for a non-digital version of it. Note how the difference in medium affects the experience; think about what kinds of artistic ideas are best expressed in digital or non-digital form.”

NOTE: I think this might fit under option 3&4 but have put it here as it does have some structure and was inspired by two actual video games, although one hasn’t bee released yet.

This year’s darling of E3 was the much anticipated “Scribblenauts” by the developers of “Drawn to Life” a favourite of mine. The promised freedom of the new title will revolve around how well pre-conceived interactions between thousands of objects have been implemented. The earlier work was VERY linear, but also gave the illusion of freedom by allowing players to design their own avatars. However, these designs had to fit to specific templates to enable the animations to work. So, both games are limited and limitless in equal turns – DS titles, so forgivable – and do something novel. They also fail to deliver on their promise, as all computer rendered worlds will be. Hence, EquiSCRIBBLEum.

Players: 2+

Lots of scrap paper, coloured beads, paint, pens, crayons. [Optional scanner, digital camera and printer.]

Players take turns creating a character/object interaction; see later for detailed explanation. For the first round, a player is picked randomly. Thereafter, a King of the Hill approach is taken, where other players can challenge the current leader. A successful challenger takes the lead. Unsuccessful challenges mean back to the drawing board – either new object or new ability – before a new challenge is possible. The winner is determined by the current leader after an agreed time or number of turns.

Ok, the gameplay is freeform and totally defined by players, but you should be ok if you’ve followed discussion of Scribblenauts or are familiar with wizard battles:

  1. I’m a cat
  2. I become a dog
  3. I grow spikes
  4. I turn into a lawnmower
  5. I develop a double jump

Players have to represent change/status/animation of their character object using whatever method possible. A flick book stick figure transformation; using beads to make a pixel picture of several frames (hence the optional digitisation) showing a high jump for example.

The winner of each challenge is decided by consensus. Whether opponents represent obstacles, combatants, etc, is entirely up to the players, but it is recommended that some story is evolved during play to help seed ideas. The quality of the art is less important than the mental duel.

The transition to non-digital allows a virtually infinite number of options; far more than will fit on a game cartridge! I could also envisage one or more players setting up an environment (level?) for other(s) to navigate. Bordering on a tabletop RPG but the essential element should remain abstract and symbolic, rather than physical.

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