Designer Leaves Board Game in Desert for Future Players

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Designer Leaves Board Game in Desert for Future Players


Jason Rohrer's A Game for Someone isn't meant to be played by anyone for at least 2000 years.

One of the hardest things about game unveilings is that you'll usually wait a year or two before you can finally play the thing. Anyone who anxiously counts down the weeks before a pre-order arrives understands this feeling, but that wait is a cakewalk compared to Jason Rohrer's timeframe. The designer behind Passage, The Castle Doctrine, and Diamond Trust of London has crafted a very special board game whose intended audience won't exist for at least 2000 years. And to ensure that nobody finds it before he's good and ready, Rohrer has buried the game and its rules in the Nevada Desert where even an organized search could take lifetimes.

Rohrer's A Game for Someone was designed for the final Game Design Challenge at GDC 2013. Using the theme of "Humanity's Last Game", Rohrer was inspired by cathedral architects whose projects wouldn't be completed until long after their lives ended. For that reason, Rohrer has done everything humanly possible to ensure that his game won't be played for generations, going so far as to bury it away from roads and populated areas. According to Rohrer, the location is so indistinguishable from its surroundings that even he isn't sure how he could find it again.

Since traditional playtesting wasn't an option, Rohrer built a digital version of the game to be completed by AI. This version was the one presented at GDC, with key features blocked out to prevent anyone from reproducing its mechanics. After the AI rooted out any imbalances, Rohrer produced the game using 30 pounds of titanium, including an 18 x 18 inch board and pieces. He also included rule diagrams printed on archival paper, sealed in a glass tube, and sealed again in titanium before burying it all in the desert.

While no one but Rohrer knows how the game is played, he's still giving players a sporting chance to find it. Rohrer has distributed over 900 sets of GPS coordinates to each person at the presentation, coming to over a million possible locations. Mathematically speaking, if one person were to visit a location each day with a metal detector, the game would be unearthed sometime within the next 2700 years. Short of a massive concentrated effort to find it this generation, it's far more likely that a scavenger or technology-laden futurist will stumble across the game when they least expect it. The only question is whether A Game for Someone, now a GDC award-winner, can live up to over 2000 years of hype.

Source: Polygon, via Joystiq
Image: Wikipedia


Oh man, can't wait for the release date.

Bet it'll be found by the end of the week.

And then it turns out this game he created is shit, and laughed at by those Year 4000-ians.

I suppose he won't have to deal with any of the mocking I suppose.

Wait, it won an award and no one knows what it is about? That doesnt make much sense


this doesn't seem right

on topic: god I hope it lives up to the hype : D!
and I'd really like to see it (the physical case and everything), because the description makes it sound pretty cool.

What do you think it's worth in caps?

I need a flying saucer and a a way to produce an incredibly powerful magnetic field...
Something strong enough to attract every piece of titanium on the planet...

Maybe the real game is finding it...



this doesn't seem right

on topic: god I hope it lives up to the hype : D!
and I'd really like to see it (the physical case and everything), because the description makes it sound pretty cool.

Spotted that one myself. Thanks though!

Where do I pre-order? I don't care how long it'll take, take my moneys!!

I really hate this modern art crap.
How is this art? You can't appreciate it, for all we know it's a game of snakes and ladders with a different name.

Captcha: Lardy-Dardy
Yes, that's exactly modern art.

Wait, it won an award and no one knows what it is about? That doesnt make much sense

The article on Polygon mentioned that it won the award based on audience voting. He must have had a very good presentation.

He grossly underestimates the Internet. The only thing the Internet loves more than cats are treasure hunts [citation needed].

...and inside the game will there be additional instructions on where the DLC is buried?

Just wait until they make the gritty remake of this! They'll stash it away underwater or at the peak of a mountain.

People will forget about this game, no one is going to dig in the desert for one stupid game.

Have they found where ET was burried? That was burried in the Nevada desert too.

well this is awesome im just imaging some archeologist in the future accidently digging this one up.

i meant way in the future if we still exist, still its one hell of a dream.

And in a future reincarnation of Time Team, archaeologists will surmise that this will have been buried on a sacred site during a religious ceremony to honour the god of ... ... ... Oh bollocks to it - I can't even bring myself to finish my own snarky comment. Cool enough idea on the face of it, but in the overall scheme of things it accomplishes slightly less than fuck all.

How do we even know he made the game?

Like, what if it's just Half life 3?

Dammit, what joke are we all supposed to use now that Duke Nukem: Forever has been released!
This humor used to be so easy!

whats even worse is when the release date gets pushed back.

A Game for Someone, also known as Kingdom Hearts 3.

But really, I don't know if this is a good idea at all. Who's gonna care about a game in about 2000 years for now? Heck, who's gonna bother to try and find a game when it's gonna take at least 20 lifetimes to find it. What, is it made of gold and unicorns? Does it contain the secrets of the universe? I don't think so. So instead, I'll just go to GS and preorder Battlefield 4 or something, wait a couple of months and play it. THAT I can handle.

Wait, what if someone creates a device in the next couple of years to find it in less than 2000 years?


If a tree falls...

I'd just say I did that without actually doing it; who would know any different?

what the is the point of making a game if this was what the person was going to do with it? the game is probably crappy any way; so hypothetically it no big loss if it's never found.

What do you think it's worth in caps?

probably 7 caps at most.

He's also assuming that the people who potentially dig it up in centuries from now will still know what board games are or be able to speak and/or read English.

How big is this desert it was buried in? I say we lead an Escapist-only expedition to find it.

Yes I've wanted to use this in a relevant context for ages:

That felt good OT: meh if the game isn't meant to be played for 2000 years then I just won't care about it

Okay, tell us the truth. It's not a new game, is it? It's something ancient and evil that you tried to get rid of it because it ate your best friend and unleashed horrifying animals onto your home town, isn't it?

Ir's probably buried next to the capsule with Megaman X.

Robin Williams is going to find it, and he'll discover this isn't your ordinary game.
*Que drum noises*

Sadly, odds are whoever finds it sells it for scrap value.

The Hungry Samurai:
Bet it'll be found by the end of the week.

oh i'm sure it could, just give the right person a "challenge accepted" moment and they'll get that shit. hell if they had access to satellite footage i'm sure they could find him in the desert when he planted the damn thing, if he didn't plant it by normal roads/populated areas, it shouldn't be hard to find his blip on a video, he didn't just magically teleport there and back.

plus, 2700 years? you know how organized and efficient nerds can be? this shit will be found in less than 10 years, i reckon.

So the best way to find it, as I see it, is find out how he got to the location. It isn't likely he walked, though if he did, that doesn't leave us in the cold. We just have to get the GPS records for his sat-nav, or his phone, which I imagine he had with him, and find the one instance he decided a trip to the Nevada desert would be fun. It's just getting those records.

I just don't know how you'd get those records. Having the sat-nav or the phone would be a good start. Someone who works for the company that houses the records, or alternatively, the police, would be best placed to make these inquiries. Hopefully someone in the CIA loves boardgames, and doesn't have a lot of regard for "proper protocol" and "privacy laws".

...and inside the game will there be additional instructions on where the DLC is buried?

nope, you gotta pay for that to unlock a code, and that code will give you a season pass for when the DLC comes 3000 years.

I'm kinda depressed I'll probably never get to see this story play out...
Or ever get to play it...

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