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High Treason: The Trial of Louis Riel» Forums » News

Subject: WORLD ON TRIAL "dibs" rss

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Alan Emrich
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High Treason: The Trial of Louis Riel is the first in what we hope will grow into a World on Trial(TM) series of games, as mentioned at the very end of the rulesbook where we suggest many trials from history that might make great games.

There are games subjects where a designer has declared "dibs" on that trial:

Impeachment: The Trial of Andrew Johnson (designer Alex Berry)

War Crimes: The Nuremberg Trials (designer Alex Berry)

J'accuse: The Dreyfus Affair (designer Lance McMillan)

Boston Massacre: The Trial of Captain Thomas Preston (designers LiHao Zhang and Anton Kulikov)

Nothing happens quickly, in the justice system or in game publishing, but nonetheless, this is how things look at the starting gate for a few more games in this potential series.

Any other takers out there?

Alan Emrich
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Michael McLean
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I know you've already done Hero of Weehawken, but a separate game based on the trial itself might be interesting.

That's Aaron Burr, for those not familiar with the Hero of Weehawken game.

Not that I'd be the person to design it, but I'd certainly play it.
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Definitely welcome new series!
VPG creativity, always good stuff
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Alan Emrich
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And another one... John Longstreet is starting to block out ideas for...

OK Corral: The Earp Inquest

That should be interesting, as both sides are just trying to sway Judge Spicer!

Alan Emrich
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Nick M.
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OJ. If the glove doesn't fit you must acquit
 
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Ben Wickens
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Would love to do something like this and with my legal training and love of CDGs that is a good start. Cannot see me ever having the time and energy, let alone the skill to make a game like one for this series though.

I do think Witch trials would be a good option - scope also to go in different directions (solo - I think there is an untapped solo CDG market, coop/semi coop) with the interesting potential for accusing other players of being witches, or getting a lesser score /victory if it is off the back of sending someone innocent to a similar fate. Not sure many people would be drawn to play the prosecutor. Salem is probably the most bankable but witch trials existed in many countries and some others are in my view more interesting simply for being less well known.
 
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Bryan McNeely
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If the world were on trial, would the moon be a witness for the prosecution?

"Yeah, I have seen it all. Earth is a bad dude. It has even sent some if its lifeforms up to me! They leave their $#|+ behind, too. Golf balls, flags, etc. Enough of the Earth's shenanigans, throw it in cosmic prison!" -the moon
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Sara McNeely
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I would like to work on the British trial of Dr. Buck Ruxton from 1936 if no one else is working on it. While not a landmark legal case per se, it was a conviction using early fingerprinting and forensic facial reconstruction of the victims. These were new to police at the time and it wasn't readily believed that the jury would buy these techniques as grounds for identifying remains.

Also, I loved playing the game! It's so fun and the theme is so strong. I can't wait to play more cases.
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Alan Emrich
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That sounds very interesting. If you want to email me privately to discuss, I have some questions about the case and how to present it as a great game! Let's work together to make it a winner!

Alan Emrich
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Jerry Schippa
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Occupy Boardwalk wrote:
If the world were on trial, would the moon be a witness for the prosecution?

"Yeah, I have seen it all. Earth is a bad dude. It has even sent some if its lifeforms up to me! They leave their $#|+ behind, too. Golf balls, flags, etc. Enough of the Earth's shenanigans, throw it in cosmic prison!" -the moon


I read the first part in a Will Farrel -
Harry Carey voice. People on the bus looked at me funny when I busted out laughing.
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Stephen O'Connor
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I am not a games designer - so just a thought:

A 'What If' Trial (Custer).

A good read on the theme:

'The Court-Martial of George Armstrong Custer'

by Douglas C. Jones.
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Logan Sullivan
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I have one that I've been kicking around some ideas for, I have some background on the topic and I'm starting to do research, but I'd hesitate to call 'dibs' cause I have no game design experience and I'm not sure if it will pan out. Nobody else has mentioned it yet though, so that's a plus.

Maybe when I figure out how the mechanics need to be tweaked to become a metaphor for the theme of the trial, I'll be able to get a rough draft version together and figure out if it's fun, then I can start talking about calling dibs
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Alan Emrich
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Fair enough, Logan. Do keep us posted, and if you need some design/development advice, write to me: alanemrich[at]victorypointgames.com
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Logan Sullivan
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(This might deserve its own post somewhere, but I figured I'd start here since this thread contains the target audience)

With all the discussion and work surrounding potential new entries in the World on Trial series, I started asking myself, what makes this series unique? What are the essential qualities of a World on Trial game? What boundaries can be pushed and still retain the feel of High Treason?

There's a great video I watched recently asking the same question of video game genres, how we go from a unique idea with creative new mechanics to a genre that captures the spirit that made the original fun while allowing enough creativity and exploration to do new things.

So, my questions is, what are the identifiers of High Treason? What parts of that feel important to the genre and what parts are unique to that entry (the video does a great job at listing a bunch of features, then paring that down to a few that are really the core)

I don't want to box anyone into a corner by implying some parts of the design are untouchable or not key enough to keep around, but some pretty high powered design thinkers will read this (including the 'genre originators') and it seems like at least a good start to pick everyone's brains. And, if the video has anything to say, it could help me avoid some 'clones/failed attempts' when I'm trying to contribute to the series.

Video reference below, I think it provides some good arguments to why defining a genre helps people use the best parts of a new idea.
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Ben Wickens
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I am exploring ideas with the Penn/ Mead trial on 1670 known sometimes as Bushell's Case - Although at times the importance of the case is maybe overstated it brings in Jury Nullification, Freedom of assembly and religion, Jury protection and much else besides.

The judge was so unhappy with the decision the jury made that they were sent back several times and threatened with prison, fines and deprived of food and water till they came back with a verdict that pleased the court.

Several written accounts of the trial exist and it is full of excellent oration and memorably dramatic quotes from both sides.

Then there is the drama of both defendants getting sent to the bail dock (where their ability to participate in the trial was greatly reduced) during proceedings.

The jury had already sat on a dozen or so cases before the Penn/Mead case and jury selection does not seem to have been a part of the trial (although the judges worked to fix the jury for following cases of others involved in the incident that led to the trial) but there are plenty of other interesting elements to the case in terms of potential mechanics such as post deliberation phases.

Dont know how far I will get with it as game design all seems fairly daunting and complex but it is interesting to read up on the trial in depth in any case.
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Alan Emrich
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Ohhh.... that does sound interesting.
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Martin Sharman
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A trial that interests me particularly is that of Jomo Kenyatta, the first President of Kenya (from 1964-1978).

In 1952 the British were struggling to suppress the Mau Mau insurrection in Kenya Colony. There are no accurate data, but it seems likely that the British killed or injured many tens of thousands of Africans during the insurrection. On handing over the colony to self-government a decade later, the British destroyed most of the government records. Recently some of the remaining archives have been released.

Lawyers were complicit in the brutality and murder. Attorney General Eric Griffith-Jones wrote, “If we are going to sin, we must sin quietly.” He gave instructions that Mau Mau suspects must be beaten mainly on their upper body, instructions that were taken as well-meaning but rather silly suggestions by the individuals who meeted out the punishments.

For no good reason, the British believed that Jomo Kenyatta was one of the ringleaders of the Mau Mau. They arrested him and charged him with "managing and being a member" of Mau Mau.

It quickly became clear that there was no evidence in any of his papers to suggest that he had any link with the movement. In fact, it quickly became clear that there was no evidence of any subversive activity at all. Probably out of concern for losing face, the British decided nevertheless to go to trial.

Since they had no evidence that might conceivably convict him, they did the only sensible thing they could: they rigged the trial.

The law of the colony stated that the trial should take place where the accused was arrested. They had arrested Kenyatta in Nairobi, but feared the attentions of journalists - and perhaps the mob - so they took Kenyatta some 400km north to Kapenguria, a remote settlement near the Uganda border. They officially released him there, and immediately re-arrested him, making it "legal" to try him in a hamlet in the middle of a vast and at that time almost entirely uninhabited plateau.

To keep matters private, the court house was surrounded by soldiers and a couple of armoured cars were parked conveniently nearby.

On hearing of his arrest, several lawyers of international renown came to Kenyatta’s aid.

The judge, Ransley Thacker, was brought out of retirement for this trial. It later transpired that Baring, the Governor of Kenya, gave Thacker a very large sum of money shortly after the trial. It need hardly be said that this handsome gift, which came out of the blue, was entirely unrelated to the case.

Kenyatta refused to speak English during the trial. Not because he couldn't - he was fluent in the language - but as an act of defiance and of disgust at the manner of his treatment. The British arranged for the famous palaeontologist, L.S.B. Leakey, to interpret for him. Leakey and Kenyatta had been at odds for years, and the relationship quickly broke down. Kenyatta's counsel repeatedly challenged Leakey's interpretations. Leakey, known for his short temper, resigned. He was replaced by a far more sympathetic individual, the Scottish missionary Robert Anderson Philip.

Given the complete lack of evidence, the prosecution case depended entirely on witness statements. At least one of them, Rawson Macharia, was given a "stipend" - a rather handsome one, relative to workman's wages of the time - to "allow him to testify". Macharia and others claimed that Kenyatta presided over the Mau Mau oathing ceremony. Macharia also claimed Kenyatta forced him to take the Mau Mau oath.

The entire trial was characterised by an "atmosphere of suspicion, intrigue, intimidation and fear” according to Kenyatta's biographer Murray-Brown.

Intrigue? In such a tiny settlement, it was of course to be expected that at the close of play each day the judge and the prosecution would go off for a gin and tonic together. The frequent consultations between Baring and Thackery were equally innocent; just friends chatting.

Intimidation? Each of Kenyatta's counsel were threatened and harassed. Kenyatta's main lawyer, D. N. Pritt, QC, was charged with contempt of court for objecting to being permitted only ten minutes before the trial to confer with his client.

There was never any doubt in anyone's mind what the verdict would be. In April 1953, the judge condemned Kenyatta to seven years' hard labour. Kenyatta was about 60, and the judge presumably intended to condemn him to death. Kenyatta never in fact did any hard labour, unlike the men sentenced with him, and served his sentence as a cook for the others until his release 6 years later.

I don't have any idea at the moment how to turn this exhibit of brutal power into a game. No jury to sway, and a corrupt prosecution, does not really fit the mould of the World on Trial games. But I'd very much like to discuss it with you.
 
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Alan Emrich
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Quote:
I don't have any idea at the moment how to turn this exhibit of brutal power into a game. No jury to sway, and a corrupt prosecution, does not really fit the mould of the World on Trial games. But I'd very much like to discuss it with you.

You're right, it does not sound like a COMPETITIVE game at all but would make a hell of a good SOLITAIRE game.

Pick either side and build a game around it. I might pick where the player is the defense and the deck just keeps punishing you and punishing you and your goal is to achieve the best possible outcome for your client.

Of course, you could design the game in the reverse, and try to play the prosecution toppling the defense deck, it I think it would be more fun to play the hopeless cause!

Essentially, the player would have a hand of cards to play to counter the Government/Prosecution (maybe even advance the cause of the Defense/Defendant, but that seems very hard). Each turn, you would reveal a certain number of prosecution cards and those you could not get around would hinder you from that point forward. After 3 rounds of that, you figure the Prosecution's score and see how the Defendant fared.

Something like that could make a great little quick-playing solitaire card game.
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Martin Sharman
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Yes, thanks for that idea.

I think that the first thing to do is to try to find some solid accounts of the trial. There seems to be remarkably little in the public domain, considering that the accused and condemned man went on to be the President of an independent country. (In which office, it has to be said, he enriched himself handsomely. By the time of his death, he was said to be one of the richest landowners in the UK. I don't know whether that's true.)
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