Game Design Friday

Game Design Friday
You Have to Lock the Entry!

Scott Jon Siegel | 30 May 2008 21:15
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Designing You Have to Lock the Entry!


The internet is a playful space, and the most successful websites take advantage of this playful nature. In a way, we play games with the internet, and we're constantly playing with the other net-denizens with whom we share the space. It's not a major logical leap, then, to build a game based around a particular website. It is, however, damn fun.

Wikipedia's mass appeal, and ambiguous notions of "authority" make it an interesting focal point for a game. In my design, I wanted to concentrate on the secret battles that occur on the site, accessible on any article by clicking the "history" or "discussion" tabs.


The decision to build a card game came from my desire to have objects representative of articles on the website. Rather than designing play materials from scratch, it seemed easier to build from the tropes of playing cards.

The basic action of the game was easy to replicate with cards. I wanted players creating and editing Wikipedia entries, while deleting the edits made by their peers. Turn-based gameplay was eschewed in favor of a real-time, rapid-fire play style, reminiscent of the popular card game Nertz. The simultaneity more closely resembles the chaotic nature of the internet, and I was stubborn to retain it through the game's iterations.

As always, the biggest issue throughout the design process was reconciling the gameplay mechanics with my own adherence to the game's fiction. For the sake of rule-comprehension (and fun), I like my games to be as cohesive as possible, in terms of narrative. In the end, certain aspects of the game had to be altered. Unlike Wikipedia, players must justify every deletion with their own addition, preventing mass content deletions and general jerk-ness. The fiction suffers somewhat for this, but the gameplay wins out in the end.


Iterative playtesting was key to this design. The game evolved rapidly through multiple rounds of testing, and many of the rules were designed mid-play -- cards in one hand and pen in the other. The game met my expectations in terms of fast-paced entertainment: not a terribly deep experience, but an enjoyable one for the time it lasts. At the very least, it serves as a reminder of the internet's more playful side.

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