Wednesday, February 6, 2008

My 8x8 Ideas

Today students were asked to develop an 8x8 game. I decided to take on the challenge myself. Though I've previously developed a chess variant called Dracula Chess, I wanted to do something more accessible and interesting for our class. Originally I thought of just simplifying the Dracula Chess concept and incorporating cards (along the lines of Knightmare Chess). But it still seemed like a rather esoteric game that required people basically to know chess to a significant depth to appreciate. I also wanted to take on the challenge of developing a game that used all four of Roger Caillois's fundamental categories of play: strategic competition, luck, role play (mimicry), and physical activity.

Initially I played around with a number of ideas, including dice to decide battles (on the model of Risk), various card schemes (including one where you could plant mines on certain squares in your territory -- with the proviso that you could not occupy that square yourself without being blown up, which could give away their location to an observant opponent with a good memory), and various interesting movements of the checkers (including having them jump over each other like "chinese checkers" with the goal of reaching the other side of the board).

As I thought about these ideas over Super Bowl weekend, it suddenly dawned on me that a good role play "back story" would be football. Football would provide roles, and would also impose its own rules, which you could try to mimic in a checkers-like setting. What I came up with was Rutgers Football: The Board Game. It still needs quite a bit of work, and would obviously work best on a bigger board (probably 10x10, plus endzones), but I like the basic concept and (based on my research so far) it appears to be original.

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