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Dude. MOVE ALREADY.
May 23, 2011 10:45 AM   Subscribe

"Challenge: Create a game. The game can be of any theme or genre you desire, but there is one restriction: You're creating a 'new classic,' like Chess, Tag or card games. So, create a game to be enjoyed by generations of players for a thousand years. Prize: $1,000 to the winning entrant, to be announced and awarded January 1, 2012." Daniel Solis' Thousand-Year Game Design Challenge.

Game entries have been posted in the comments below the rules in the last link.
posted by bayani (61 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
"card games" is a classic?
posted by DU at 10:46 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


A thousand bucks? So a buck a year for an idea that's supposed to be as popular as chess?

I think I'll take my my ideas to Hasbro, dude.
posted by Happy Dave at 10:50 AM on May 23, 2011 [15 favorites]


I've got this great idea for a create-a-game game. The winner gets five hundred bucks.
posted by box at 10:52 AM on May 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


Everybody close your eyes. On the count of three look up and stare at somebody else at the table. If they're also staring at you, you're both out. Last one standing wins. Ties resolved by rock/paper/scissors. Where's my $1,000?

If rocks or scissors don't exist in 3011 then just fight to the death.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:52 AM on May 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


Public Secrets is an interesting twist on Password, and a game you can play right now without buying anything.
posted by Apropos of Something at 10:52 AM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


create a game to be enjoyed by generations of players for a thousand years

I have the winning entry. My game is called "Troll the Future." People will have to play it for a thousand years, because each match actually lasts a thousand years!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:53 AM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, I follow the links in the discussion, find a game that could make money, run out and copyright it, and get rich...that's how this works?

I don't get this, a strange idea poorly executed.
posted by tomswift at 10:56 AM on May 23, 2011


Rights
Entrants keep any and all legal rights to their games. Winning this prize is not a business transaction. You may do with the prize what you wish.
posted by ericb at 10:57 AM on May 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think I'll take my my ideas to Hasbro, dude.

"Rights
Entrants keep any and all legal rights to their games. Winning this prize is not a business transaction. You may do with the prize what you wish."

Hasbro won't give you as good a deal. Basically, the $1000 only major stipulation is that you have a link to the contest. Pretty expensive if the goal was raw advertising.

I know Daniel from online stuff, and presumably he's hoping a) more people will make awesome boardgames and b) maybe take that money and publish the game or more games.
posted by yeloson at 11:00 AM on May 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


D'oh, ericb beat me to it.
posted by yeloson at 11:00 AM on May 23, 2011


You lose.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:01 AM on May 23, 2011


Those who think this is stupid or a way to rip people off, did you actually read the page on the challenge, or is it just more fun to assume this is some sort of lame scheme? Oh wait, that's probably the winning entry right there.

Having actually read the linked page, I think it's a neat contest with an admirable goal, and nothing else. Fun. Remember fun?
posted by Gator at 11:02 AM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, create a game to be enjoyed by generations of players for a thousand years.

1. Throw bird at Morlock
2. If bird hit Morlock, run away
3. If Morlock eat you then you lose the game
4. Sing about bird and smile
posted by Greg Nog at 11:02 AM on May 23, 2011 [16 favorites]


I think I'll take my my ideas to Hasbro, dude.

Hasbro isn't going to give you a red cent for a new abstract strategy game.
posted by Jpfed at 11:05 AM on May 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


The prize money should probably be held in escrow for 1000 years, just to be sure it goes to the right game.
posted by rh at 11:07 AM on May 23, 2011 [13 favorites]


Seriously. I like the idea of creating a game that has to be played out over successive generations. Nothing too elaborate, either. To some extent, the main requirements of the game would be to have a good enough relationship with your family when you die that they'd be willing to pass on your little foolish conceit.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:09 AM on May 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


So, I follow the links in the discussion, find a game that could make money, run out and copyright it, and get rich...that's how this works?

A couple problems with this plan:

1. You are not going to get rich. I don't even think the top game designers these days are rich. People buy a shit-ton of the classic games like Monopoly; as depressing as this is, newer games will never touch that success.

2. You will have a hard time preventing people from making knockoffs of your game. Likewise, you will have a hard time stealing someone's idea and somehow preventing them from making it. IANAL, but as far as I know, game artwork and the wording of the rules etc. is copyrighted, you may be able to register very distinctive terms used in your game ("tapping mana" etc.) as trademarks, but if you want to protect the basic mechanisms of your game, you'd have to patent them. That represents an investment- probably more than the basic mechanisms of the game are actually worth.
posted by Jpfed at 11:21 AM on May 23, 2011


bayani: "Prize: $1,000 to the winning entrant, to be announced and awarded January 1, 2012."

Is this a typo? Shouldn't it be 3011?
posted by Plutor at 11:23 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously. I like the idea of creating a game that has to be played out over successive generations. Nothing too elaborate, either. To some extent, the main requirements of the game would be to have a good enough relationship with your family when you die that they'd be willing to pass on your little foolish conceit.

Wait, isn't that the game most of us are already playing?
posted by Wordwoman at 11:24 AM on May 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


The Wikipedia entry for board game has some interesting history.

Also, Hasbro sucks unless you're a law firm.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:26 AM on May 23, 2011


fuck i just lost the game.
posted by empath at 11:26 AM on May 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


To some extent, the main requirements of the game would be to have a good enough relationship with your family when you die that they'd be willing to pass on your little foolish conceit.

I'm already playing that game, it's called "Don't get written out of grandma's will".
posted by empath at 11:28 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Finally, Corporate Psychopath: The Game will have a home.

*draws a card and reads* "Player must flawlessly do the Huey Lewis bit from American Psycho. If successful, remove one other player from the board."
posted by adipocere at 11:33 AM on May 23, 2011


I'm surprised by the immediately cynical reactions. It's not as if there's even much profit to be made from game ideas - saleability comes from effort put into developing, branding and marketing.

If it is a scam, then Daniel's been playing a long sleeper game. He has a history of positivity in the games community. He also puts his games where his mouth is, describing and developing new game designs publicly.

The "thousand year game" thing is to get people thinking about game design in a different way. Considering why the really old games feel that way and trying to suss how you might make a game with that feel. Longevity and applicability over impact, theme or glitz.

This is a well-intentioned incentive to get people making something cool in a new way. What's not to admire?
posted by Lorc at 11:34 AM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's likely that if there's something in it you need to copyright, it's not going to be around in a thousand years.

Think of mancala. If it's a game you can play with stones and sticks and a patch of earth, then you've probably got a good chance.
posted by no relation at 11:35 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's interesting to think of how one might actually design a game to last 1000 years. One thing not addressed in the challenge is the question of whether or not the game needs to be resilient to changes and mutations over the years. What we think of as Chess today is the result of many different evolving tweaks and rule changes from earlier similar strategy games, enough that it's not really correct to say that someone invented the game hundreds of years ago. A simpler game like tic-tac-toe has a better chance at keeping the same rules, but I wouldn't be surprised if the form we play today is drastically different than the first one played that started the meme originally. The only relatively recently invented game I can think of that has something approaching a 1000 year game feel based on gameplay is Tetris, which would probably perform badly in this competition if it had never been published up until now.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:45 AM on May 23, 2011


You can make money on board games. Settlers of Catan has sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of product in the last ten or fifteen years.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:45 AM on May 23, 2011


Mad Libs: Twilight New Moon
posted by benzenedream at 11:45 AM on May 23, 2011


> What we think of as Chess today is the result of many different evolving tweaks and rule changes from earlier similar strategy games, enough that it's not really correct to say that someone invented the game hundreds of years ago.

Go on the other hand hasn't really changed in a very long time. There were some tiny clarifications to the rules and some variations on the scoring system - but very minor ones that wouldn't affect play one bit in 99% of games.

Go is interesting because it has so very few rules. The chess grandmaster Edward Lasker felt that if aliens played games, they'd certainly play Go, and I agree with him.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:05 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Slightly surprised by the negativity here. It's a competition to get people to think about games design from a different angle, no more or less. It comes from a community with a tradition of challenges like this, with either a particular constraint on design or theme to encourage new ideas. I'm intrigued by what'll get designed.

Also, previously on Metafilter: the ransom model.
posted by MattM at 12:10 PM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


You can make money on board games. Settlers of Catan has sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of product in the last ten or fifteen years.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 13:45 on May 23 [+] [!]


Yes, "you can", in that it is a theoretical possibility that one could make a new game that breaks the top ten. But no, "you can't", because the probability that you will actually make millions of dollars on a game is very small.

In any case, no relation has it exactly right- if people submit competition entries that actually adhere to the spirit of the competition, they won't be worth anything on the market. That's actually part of the point of the competition and $1000 reward.
posted by Jpfed at 12:12 PM on May 23, 2011


> But no, "you can't", because the probability that you will actually make millions of dollars on a game is very small.

Don't listen to this nattering nabob of negativism! It is a surety that someone will again make millions of dollars on a new game in the future, and very few people do actually sit down to write new games. If you have a good idea, let it out!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:17 PM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have an idea for a game. It is called "Game of Thrones" and in it basically everyone is as wretched as they can possibly be until a lot of people die. You get bonus points if you sleep with your sister. Fun for the whole family!
posted by jph at 12:17 PM on May 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


he only relatively recently invented game I can think of that has something approaching a 1000 year game feel based on gameplay is Tetris

Mafia/Werewolf.
posted by empath at 12:19 PM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


You are not going to get rich.

Agreed. As a professor at my school says, you can make HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of dollars making games.

That is to say, you can make (some) money, yes, but that isn't why you do it. You do it because you love it, and because you don't want to do anything else. You'd do it for free. You'd do it even if you did make millions, because the millions don't change how you feel when you're making games. That's how you last in the games industry--because you love it that much.

You kind of have to. The games industry can be harsh.

That said, the contest is a clever one. It's much easier to make a game fun than it is to make it lasting. Having tried to make dice, card, and chalk-based games myself, I can attest that it's a lot harder than you think. I'm excited to see what comes out of it, and might even submit something myself.
posted by erinfern at 12:33 PM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


lupus- of course I want people to make their games, just have a realistic idea of the financial risks and rewards. Make games because you love them, not because you actually expect to make millions of dollars.
posted by Jpfed at 12:37 PM on May 23, 2011


Meanwhile, the computer geeks and posthumansists are wondering what qualities a game would have to have to survive the next 1000 years under the assumption that people have ever more ready access to computerized game aids, augmented memory, and whatever other sci-fi element you want to toss in.

For instance, at least one variant of mancala has been "solved"—that is, it's been determined that in this game optimal play by both players ends in a draw. A future person with easy access to the optimal play sequence would not really be "playing" the game; in a sense it's just a matter of memorization. (but tic tac toe is solved, even fairly young children can be aware of how to play a perfect game, but they will still play it)

In chess, though the full game is not solved, there are catalogs of openings and endgames; a future player with ready access to such databases may find the game substantially less interesting. In fact, Bobby Fischer felt the opening was so boring for a top-notch human player that he invented Chess960, in which one of 960 different starting positions are played. But that only makes the opening 960 times more difficult, something that is surmountable by augmented memory if not by a top human player.

Will the most computationally complex games played today (I don't know whether Go is at the pinnacle or not, but with game complexities up to 10511 on the 19x19 board it's probably in the running) still be unsolved 1000 years in the future? Quite possibly, unless an unexpected shortcut in finding the sequence of best play is found. Assuming it's not, one route to go for a "game for posthumans" is to choose a game where the complexity of the problem is still likely to outstrip the available computational power. Even better if there's an adjustable parameter (such as board size in Go) which can be turned up if players get too powerful.

Other directions for games for posthumans are imperfect knowlege games (think poker), where some elements of play are known only to certain players, or are only revealed after some plays have been made. (incidentally, this leads me to imagine a short story in which the protagonist realizes that he is almost certainly a simulation for the purposes of predicting the outcome of a poker game, and that presumably after going "all in" on his pocket aces the simulation—and therefore his own life—will be ended), or non-computational games like pictionary, nomic, karaoke, or spin the bottle.

Of course, pictionary probably turns out to be a bad example. A computer vision system that can win at guessing pictionary answers doesn't seem particularly far-fetched. An augmented human might have what we would consider superhuman drawing speed and skill, or the practice of drawing at all might disappear from society. Of course a computer-controlled arm could also make excellent sketches. Or both computer and human could use steganographic techniques to embed the answer in an arbitrary drawing according to a pre-agreed scheme (i.e., cheat). And it's a stretch to call karaoke and spin the bottle games in the same sense that chess is a game…

A game that can be played with sticks and dried mud is certainly one direction to go when thinking about the thousand-year game, but for me that implies a certain pessimism about the situation of future humans. The question of the game for posthumans is the more interesting one for me.
posted by jepler at 12:56 PM on May 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


Other directions for games for posthumans are imperfect knowlege games

This is a really great way to explode the search space.

For example, one of my games involves the players taking on roles, alternating between being a "mover" and a "guesser". The guesser makes a secret guess about what piece the mover is going to move. Then the mover gets to go, and the guesser reveals whether they accurately guessed or not (I don't yet have a non-clunky non-computerized scheme for verifying the guesser's claim). If the guesser did accurately guess, they get a bonus when they become the mover.

But more to the point, a computer opponent for this game really has their work cut out for them. If there are A total moves that the mover might make, and B pieces that the guesser might guess, then there is a matrix of A*B possibilities that you must take into account per turn. Determining what a given player must do involves finding the Nash equilibria for this ply, but the payoffs in the matrix aren't really known- you have to recurse until you're deep enough to be comfortable assigning payoffs with a heuristic.
posted by Jpfed at 1:39 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ooh, I got one. Who can make the biggest ball of insects and edible slime mold before hunger forces them to take a bite? Oh wait, for the next thousand years not in a thousand years. Back to the drawing board.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:58 PM on May 23, 2011


I've met some people who swear that Hive has replaced chess for them, but I have yet to try it.
posted by Winnemac at 2:05 PM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've read enough science fiction to know that if I click on that link for "Hive" I'll be assimilated into the borg.
posted by jph at 2:12 PM on May 23, 2011


I think I'll take my my ideas to Hasbro, dude.

Then I look forward to HAPPY'S DAVE'S GAME: POKEMON EDITION sometime ten years from now. Wait, not look forward to. That's the opposite of what I mean.

You are not going to get rich. I don't even think the top game designers these days are rich. People buy a shit-ton of the classic games like Monopoly; as depressing as this is, newer games will never touch that success.

I disagree. I know that I'm doing my part to change this horrible state of affairs; I'm basically an eurogame evangelist here in li'l ol' Brunswick, Georgia. Every person I've ever played a game of Power Grid to has loved it, and nearly everyone loves Puerto Rico, Agricola and Settlers of Catan.

No one pays me for this; I just want them to know there are better things out there than Monopoly and Risk. Multiply me by a thousand and things might well start to change.
posted by JHarris at 3:25 PM on May 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I just uploaded a video of a little girl and our guide playing a game in ancient ruins in Cambodia...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:28 PM on May 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Penny Can, a game for all ages.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:30 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


"The center snaps the ball to the quarterback!"
"No he doesn't!"
"He doesn't?"
"NO! Secretly, he's the quarterback for the other team! He keeps the ball!"
"A traitor!"
"Calvin breaks for the goal."
"Wheeee! He's at the 30... the 20... the 10! Nobody can catch him!"
"Nobody wants to! Your running toward your own goal!"
"Huh?!"
"When I learned that you were a spy, I switched goals. This is your goal and mine's hidden!"
"Hidden?!"
"You'll never find it in a million years!"
"I don't need to find it as a traitor to your team, crossing my goal counts as crossing your goal!"
"Ah, so you might think so..."
"In fact, I know so!"
"But the place I hid my goal is right on top of your goal, so the points will go to me!"
"But the fact is, I'm really a double agent! I'm on your team after all, which means you'll lose points if I cross your goal! Ha ha!"
"But I'm a traitor too, so I'm really on your team! I want you to cross my goal! The points will go to your team, which is really my team!"
"That would be true... if I were a football player!"
"You mean...?"
"I'm actually a badminton player disguised as a double-agent football player!!"
"And I'm actually a volleyball-croquet-polo player!"
"Sooner or later, all our games turn into CalvinBall."
"No cheating!"
posted by AceRock at 3:58 PM on May 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


The Glass Bead Game?
'Fencing' from The Shockwave Rider?
posted by newdaddy at 7:49 PM on May 23, 2011


Kensington was a board game my dad had that took itself (and its ability to be chess-like) very seriously...
posted by rivenwanderer at 8:36 PM on May 23, 2011


Many thanks to everyone who has expressed interest in the challenge! I really look forward to seeing more great entries as we approach the deadline.

As others have noted, my only motive for this challenge is to encourage elegant, long-lasting game design. Potential thousand-year games are created all the time, but rarely get wide distribution or even full development.

There just isn't a strong market incentive to create that kind of product. Granted, a thousand dollars isn't a strong market incentive either, but it's a start. It's enough to making a nice looking prototype or to travel for demos at game conventions.

I just hope to bring some attention to more new, longevity-minded game design.
posted by danielsolis at 4:13 AM on May 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


lupus_yonderboy: "You can make money on board games. Settlers of Catan has sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of product in the last ten or fifteen years."

Settlers is now over 15 years old. Quick, name another "new" board game that has achieved anything close to that level of commercial success. As long as Hasbro is cranking out Yet Another Licensed Version of Risk, or Yet Another Licensed CCG, they'll dominate sales and store shelves.
posted by mkultra at 5:36 AM on May 24, 2011


Dominion.
posted by empath at 6:12 AM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


mkultra: Settlers is now over 15 years old. Quick, name another "new" board game that has achieved anything close to that level of commercial success. As long as Hasbro is cranking out Yet Another Licensed Version of Risk, or Yet Another Licensed CCG, they'll dominate sales and store shelves.

Carcasone is pretty huge.
posted by paisley henosis at 6:26 AM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


What am I going to say next: Sid Hoffman or Sid Frenchman?
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 7:43 AM on May 24, 2011


Drat, I'd guessed "Sid Meier".
posted by jepler at 8:04 AM on May 24, 2011


paisley henosis: "Carcasone is pretty huge."

Apples to Apples, too.

According to Board Game Ratings, both Carcassone and Ticket To Ride are bigger sellers than Catan. But I'm not sure what data they're actually using there. I'm surprised Puerto Rico and Apples to Apples aren't higher up on that list, too (the latter maybe only because there are so many damn editions).
posted by Plutor at 8:35 AM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


The collected games in the Settlers "series" had sold 15 million worldwide as of 2009.

This list on BGG cites sales figures for various games. The threshold for "games non-gamers would recognize" seems to be around 1 million (Carcassonne was at 1.5 million as of 2009).

Monopoly, in contrast, has sold well over a quarter-billion copies.

Plutor: "Apples to Apples, too."

You know, I think this game stands the biggest chance of any of the last few decades' worth of games to have generational staying power. It's a different game each time, the rules are dead simple, it's portable, and you can pretty much make your own copy.
posted by mkultra at 8:54 AM on May 24, 2011


Monopoly, in contrast, has sold well over a quarter-billion copies.

I wonder how many in the last 15 years though.
posted by empath at 8:57 AM on May 24, 2011


Settlers is now over 15 years old. Quick, name another "new" board game that has achieved anything close to that level of commercial success. As long as Hasbro is cranking out Yet Another Licensed Version of Risk, or Yet Another Licensed CCG, they'll dominate sales and store shelves.

You have phrased a bad question -- Settlers of Catan is the game that launched the Eurogame phenomenon in the U.S. Of course it's going to be high on the list, it's had the longest time to do it.

But games with staying power? I personally vouch for Puerto Rico, Agricola, Power Grid (esp. this one; as it's a more straight-forward game without relying on the Magic-style rule hacking mechanism) and, if you're a Lovecraft fan and have time periods along the line of a whole day to devote to a game, Arkham Horror.

Carcassonne isn't bad, I think, but for some reason I've had difficulty introducing it to people around here. Rarely among Eurogames that support many players, it is probably best played with only two. Ticket to Ride is a good introduction game, but once your players learn to master it it's a bit simplistic. (The iPad recreation, however is surprisingly addictive.)

One game I've been wanting to play for a while is the new #1 at BoardGameGeek, Twilight Struggle. Anyone here try it?
posted by JHarris at 1:50 PM on May 24, 2011


JHarris: "But games with staying power? I personally vouch for Puerto Rico, Agricola, Power Grid (esp. this one; as it's a more straight-forward game without relying on the Magic-style rule hacking mechanism) and, if you're a Lovecraft fan and have time periods along the line of a whole day to devote to a game, Arkham Horror."

I'm a fan of those games as well (though the bloom is off the rose for me with Agricola; his follow-up, Le Havre, is more fun and less grueling), but they're simply never going to reach very far beyond the "gamer" market.

JHarris: "One game I've been wanting to play for a while is the new #1 at BoardGameGeek, Twilight Struggle. Anyone here try it?"

Most overrated game in the Top 10, IMO. The idea's neat, but the game balance is completely broken and it just takes too long for what it is. Their follow-up (again with this), 1960, is tighter, more dynamic, and shorter. Plus, I get to roll out my Nixon impression. ;)
posted by mkultra at 2:02 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the top 10 games should be stored with the Clock of the Long Now.

Maybe 11 - one might be kinda lame.

http://longnow.org/
posted by lon_star at 3:08 PM on May 25, 2011


Ooh. I think I'm going to polish up and enter a game that I outlined here over in the green.
So I'm posting this note so I can point to it if it later needs to be seen that I'm the same user. :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 4:32 AM on May 26, 2011


Seven new entries last month!
posted by danielsolis at 6:39 AM on June 3, 2011


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