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Subject: The Thousand Year Game Design Challenge rss

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Daniel Solis
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Hello, all! I'm Daniel Solis, creator of Happy Birthday, Robot! and art director/designer for several indie games, mostly on the RPG side of the hobby.

A new project launched today that's a bit different than anything I've done before. It's kind of an X-Prize for game designers.

The Thousand Year Game Design Challenge is a competition for game designers to create a game to be played and enjoyed from now until 3011. The prize is $1,000, to be awarded on New Year's Day 2012. If you would like to know more, the rules and FAQs can be found at the link below.

http://www.ThousandYearGame.com

Feel free to ask me any questions on this thread, or email gobi81-at-gmail-dot-com, msg me on Twitter @danielsolis, or chat with me on Skype (SolisItalic).

Happy New Year!

-- Daniel
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Nick Hayes
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I thought I was going to read, "The prize is $1,000, to be awarded on New Year's Day 3012."
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Wendell
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I volunteer to stick around till 3011 to see if any of these really are still being played.

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Clay
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Isn't the idea behind most games that we'd like to see them played and enjoyed for as long as possible? It seems like this is just a "design a game" contest (Not that there is anything wrong with that, of course, just seems like an odd prompt).
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Daniel Solis
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@Nick: I wish I would be around that long to do that.

@Wendell: You might want to talk to Nick.

@C D: You're quite right and possibly ahead of the curve here. I also assume every designer and game company would like their game played for a long, long time. I'll try to clear up the motive behind this prompt:

Part of this particular challenge is including longevity and accessibility part of the judgment criteria. That includes how the designer considered the technological, cultural, physical and environmental access the player has in 3011, so that the player would be able to play that game. Does the game require electricity? Does it use special pieces or materials? Do those materials require special manufacturing processes? Does the game assume certain environmental characteristics for the play space? Does the game assume physical capacity for the players?

These kinds of considerations are (I think) unique to this exercise.
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Eric Jome
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It's a charming thought.

Even if we could verify the results, I feel confident in asserting that there is no chance any game played today will enjoy anything other than historical interest. The world will be so different in 1000 years time as to be incomprehensible to people of today... and we mere savages to them. Our most complex will be trivial to posthumans. Our most thematic, antiquated and obscure. Our most traditional, long solved and uninteresting. Our most elemental, uninteresting to people of a different species.

There's real questions whether there even will be human beings in 1000 years.
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cosine wrote:
...I feel confident in asserting that there is no chance any game played today will enjoy anything other than historical interest...

Go is ~3000 years old, Kalah is ~1500, the tafl games (i.e. Hnefatafl) are about the same age, and while Chess is only about 500 years old, it seems likely to survive.
But I agree that we may not be here as species shake
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p55carroll
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The human race does have the power to destroy itself, and I suppose it's possible that an extraterrestrial race might take over and change everything. But if human beings are still around a thousand years from now, I'll bet they won't have changed all that much. Consciousness-wise, the people of 2011 aren't that much different from the people of 1011 as far as I can tell. Those of 3011 will likely be much the same overall, IMO.

Of course, conditions will have changed drastically, at least for many. Maybe not for all. After all, there are places on Earth today where people live much as their ancestors did in 1011.
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Eric Jome
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Ozludo wrote:

Go is ~3000 years old, Kalah is ~1500, the tafl games (i.e. Hnefatafl) are about the same age, and while Chess is only about 500 years old, it seems likely to survive.
But I agree that we may not be here as species shake


I considered this in my response. I was not forgetting Go. Go is of interest to human beings. I'm not sure the posthumans will find Go particularly interesting.

The trend in recent technology has been toward networking and community. It is not outside the realm of belief that all people might have instant access to top tier (perhaps best ever human or better) skills with a thought. Kinda makes a perfect information game dull if I can bring up the skills of the best player ever and use them for myself with no forethought or training...

I'm suggesting that the way things are headed, the new beings that we will become or that will replace us won't find these games interesting anymore. They will remember them. But more likely I think is that they will be interested in virtual realities, not simple games of skill or chance.
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Joe Wasserman
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I don't think he would like that.
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
After all, there are places on Earth today where people live much as their ancestors did in 1011.


There are?
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Eric Jome
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
Consciousness-wise...


We haven't done much to change the nature of the human embodiment experience in the last few thousand years. Because, you know, we couldn't. We were too busy just trying to scrape together enough bread, rags, and mates to make it to the next day.

We're on the verge now of utterly radical shifts. Shifts we could easily see in our lifetimes. Unimaginable what 1000 years might hold.

It is not far outside our power to build self-replicating machines to do all our manual work for us. It is not far outside our power to genetically engineer smarter, faster, stronger, or stranger fellow people to inhabit this earth with us. Artificial life, genetic recombination, nanotechnology, fusion power, quantum computers, human mind machine interface... really, that's just the boring obvious technologies that could wipe away what we know as humans. My saying that is like someone in Da Vinci's time saying "yeah, flying might be useful someday" - and they couldn't conceive of networks, which in the long term will make pointless tech like flying seem baroque and antiquated.

It's fun to think that 1000 years from now, there will still be charming good old us and maybe the most we'll change will be flitting about in little tin cans around the solar system. That's what I'd call a rose tinted delusion lacking imagination though. I'd say it's a lot more likely everything you know and recognize as human will be long gone, either intentionally and happily or accidentally and scarily.

Sorry. Changes are coming. Really. Big. Changes.
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Clay
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gobi wrote:


@C D: You're quite right and possibly ahead of the curve here. I also assume every designer and game company would like their game played for a long, long time. I'll try to clear up the motive behind this prompt:

Part of this particular challenge is including longevity and accessibility part of the judgment criteria. That includes how the designer considered the technological, cultural, physical and environmental access the player has in 3011, so that the player would be able to play that game. Does the game require electricity? Does it use special pieces or materials? Do those materials require special manufacturing processes? Does the game assume certain environmental characteristics for the play space? Does the game assume physical capacity for the players?

These kinds of considerations are (I think) unique to this exercise.


Thank you, that makes far more sense now.

And guys, this tangent would make a great thread (Chit chat or RSP, preferably the latter) but we probably shouldn't clutter the contest thread with it.
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Kai Scheuer
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Alright .. I'm throwing my hat into the ring:

Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm proud to present:

"SURVIVE: IRL"

Survive is a game, that takes on completely new dimensions:
No longer you are limited to a board, the internet or any other kind of medium. Instead, the whole world will be your playground.

The game starts now and ends on the very last day of the year 3011.
Within this timeframe any player may jump in at any point. There is no such thing as a limit for players - any number of players can play at any given time. Once you jump in, however, only your own death will release you from this game, since you will be playing S:I every second of a day.

So, what is this game about?
S:I is a game about creating a family tree.
Whoever jumps in starts by tracing his roots as close to 2011 as possible.
When this work is done, make sure your offsprings and their offsprings and the offsprings of their offsprings (and so on) continue to work on that tree and to keep it growing.
At the very last day of 3011, players tally the points: Gain 1 point for each validated entry in your family tree.
The family with the most points wins - in case of a tie the family with the youngest player wins. If there is still a tie, throw every single one of the winners into a pit and give them exactly one old rusty knife. The last surviver wins.
(The name of that game is there for a reason, you know?)



Whoever finds irony in this post may keep it
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Joe Wasserman
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I don't think he would like that.
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philomars wrote:
Mymil wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
After all, there are places on Earth today where people live much as their ancestors did in 1011.


There are?


sure, there are tribes of people all over, living in huts and drinking stagnant water.
I for one, live in a hut made of my own feces and only get BGG thru a computer made of coconuts and human hair.


Ah, just like your ancestors 1000 years ago.

But on a serious note: superficially similar material culture (which is really very unlikely to actually stay constant for 1000 years, since people are constantly innovating) doesn't entail "living much as their ancestors did."
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Jibbajabbawocky
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Interesting, Intriguing, and probably a few more "I" Words... And now for a completely off-handed comment.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
You know who else wanted to design something that would last 1,000 years?


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Ralph T
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So basically Tic-Tac-Toe.
The best design will be one that can be played with a stick.
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As much as I'm a fan of the timelessness of Go, I don't think it's a very safe bet to assume that it will survive for another 1000 years. Even though computers are currently nowhere near being able to "solve" Go the way they have nearly "solved" chess, in 1000 years it's no longer guaranteed that a zero-randomness game such as Go will continue to be interesting. That is a VERY long time for computer development, considering how far we've come in the last 80 years or so.


My answer to the 1000 year game?


Werewolf.


Werewolf is not limited by any sort of "if then else" tables -- it relies completely on the players for the interesting content. It has very few requirements for gravity or even visual cognition in order to play -- all that matters is that there is a mode of communication between a group of people -- via text, or voice, or telepathic link.

It is forever rethemable according to the winds of the day -- the core tension of loyalty and treachery is tied to every situation where two or more people are working together.

It is the ultimate interpersonal game, and gameplay is limited only by the depth of the human mind. So long as humans can still converse and lie convincingly, this game will continue to survive with compelling mystery and replayability.
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Ralph T
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I don't think an already made game is going to win the challenge.
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Daniel Solis
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I'm loooving the discussion here. You guys are awesome.

Just a head's up: We have the first entry. I encourage you to enter, too.
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Lloyd Krassner
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Immediately made me think of the glass bead game by Herman Hesse.
Still waiting for that to be implemented. goo
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Daniel Solis
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Nice steady progress. Two entries now and another on the way. C'mon, make this a hard decision for us. ^_^
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Daniel, what exactly is supposed to be contained within the 1,000 word text limit? Obviously the rules, and probably all examples of play as well, but what about reasons why you believe your game might still be played in a thousand years, notes on flexibility in the use of alternate components, analysis of strategies and tactics, and other things not generally contained in rulebooks?

For example, could someone submit a game with 500 words of rules, 300 words of examples of play, and then a short essay of perhaps even a few thousand words describing other aspects of the game, such as antecedents and parallels with other games, or possibly even a short discussion of the evolution of technology and how it might impact games in the future?
 
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Daniel Solis
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If all you want to write for your submission is the rules of your game and the examples of play, that's A-Okay. I imagine most of those entries won't go past 500 words. We'll happily play any of those games and include them in the challenge.

If you're looking to completely fill the 1,000-word limit, then you could spend more time talking about the type of world in which you imagine the game being played. That might cover resources, alternate components, technology, predecessors, evolution, etc. I expect these are things you'll think about in the design of your game and I'm definitely very interested to see what your ideas were.

However, the full entry should be no more than 1,000 words. So, an essay of "a few thousand words" wouldn't be an appropriate part of an eligible entry.

My hope is that a thousand words is plenty of room for you to express your ideas while still keeping them in a concise package.
 
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Matt Getzen
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gobi wrote:
However, the full entry should be no more than 1,000 words. So, an essay of "a few thousand words" wouldn't be an appropriate part of an eligible entry.

Thanks. That makes perfect sense. I have a few games I'm working on, so hopefully I'll have something ready I want to submit, but even if not, I think this contest you are running is a really great thing!
 
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Daniel Solis
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Thanks! I look forward to seeing your entry.

If it helps, I just posted 5 tips on elegant board game design.
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