Recess! is a correspondence series with personal ruminations on games.
Dear Alper and Niels,
This morning I read the news that Jason Rohrer has won the final game design challenge at GDC. A Game For Someone is amazing—a boardgame buried in the Nevada desert, intended to be played in a few thousand years by those who finally find it after working down a humongous list of GPS coordinates. The game has never been played, it’s been designed using genetic algorithms. It’s made from incredibly durable materials.
I find it ironic that a boardgame wins a game design contest at an event whose attendants also drool over technofetishistic nonsense such as Oculus Rift.
And I love boardgames. I love playing big tactical shouty competitive ones at my house with friends on Saturday evenings. Or small, slow meditative strategic ones with my fiance on Sunday afternoons. I love their physicality, the shared nature of playing.
I also love them for the inspiration they offer me. Their inner workings are exposed. They’re a bit like the engines in those old cars I see some of neighbours work on every weekend, just for fun. It’s so easy to pick out mechanics, study them and see how they may be of use to my own projects.
I recently sat down to revisit the game Cuba, because our own work on KAIGARA involved an engine building mechanic and Cuba does this really well. KAIGARA doesn’t involve any cardboard, but that doesn’t mean we can’t draw inspiration from it. On the contrary. It’s like James Wallis recently said in an interview at BoardGameGeek:
“My games collection isn’t a library, it’s a toolkit.”