This was quite possibly one of my most daunting projects through the first year of my undergraduate design studies at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bengaluru.
It was done during my Performance of Understanding for the first semester in a period of two weeks.
Abstract of the Course (By facilitator – Arvind Venkatadri) :
Why and when do we play?Childhood usually meant a lot of play. We engage in games and sports for a variety of reasons and abandon them for a variety of reasons.
This project will explore the impact games may have had on our lives, their necessity, their process and possibilities, to come up with a game or translate this understanding into other creative forms of representation.
In this unit, we were expected to employ our learnings from our previous courses and come up with a project in sync with the above extract. During my “Space and Place” course, we had studied a lot about “the non-human lenses” and “correlations and connections between elements of our system” and hence the core was to somehow employ these understandings in the form of an indoor board game.
I took inspiration from our charette activity during the ‘Space and Place’ course to design a fictitious sustainable system; and started designing a game where each player assumed the role of a different element in a system and contributed in making the system with his principles in mind; and the actions of each player affected the other players and finally all the players had to work in harmony and depend on each other to reach their individual goals.
So the outcome of it all was this game called ‘Their part of the land’.
We need atleast 3 players to play the game. Each of these player will assume the role of three different kinds of wellwishers; the romantic economist (one who cares about economic development with the misconception that resources are unlimited), the romantic environmentalist (one who only wishes to preserve the diversity in nature as is without any scientific or economic growth), the romantic ethnicist (one who is the wellwisher of the village/tribal people).
The players have to design an entire system in the form of a single 3-D map (square surface) of 4*4 tiles (each tile is a square of side 6 inch, and each tile is further made up of 16 smaller squares of side 1.5 inches). They have to make addition/constructions/infrastructures/facilities to the map. Each addition will cost certain resources (money, food, wood, stone, water and energy). There will be infrastructures to generate these resources and these resources can be traded within the players for other resources. Each addition will carry certain credits for factors that determine success in the game (development, diversity and delight); these credits will be added to the player who made it. Each player’s score will be calculated differently based on a fixed ratio of the three factors. Thus the choices each player makes about an addition will be dependent on the credits it offers for different factors. The additions can be made by the player within his “part of the land” that is chosen in the beginning of the game, there are multiple ways to expand a player’s territory as the game progresses. The game is somewhat infinite, it can be ended once the entire empty space in the map has been used up and the scores can be calculated; but can also go on and on as the players wish to make changes to their territories by selling some additions (and thereby retaining (and reusing) some resources used after a certain deduction), upgrade or relocate some additions, or simply for the will of gathering more resources!
Addition categories linked to score categories:
Addition categories linked to resource categories:
I then developed a detailed catalog having all the resource requirements an resource yields and credit weight-age; and a self calculating excel sheet with a ‘MakeMove’ button for the scoring system. These two were the areas of stark shortcomings. the catalog had too much detail and the scoring system was complex. But given the small period of execution of our project, I decided to tend to them sometime later.
Catalog and autonomous scoring system :
Then before actually developing the game I did a few test rounds with my friends on a whiteboard to cross check how the resource and score allocation was working and if it was fair to all three roles in the game.
Having assured myself that all the numerals were now adjusted, I started the hands on development.
The charrette activity that inspired me to make the game was aimed at giving us a deeper sense of the complexities that arise while we attempt to execute the fancy concept of a sustainable system. It is a very similar objective that the game aims to achieve through a fun process.
The other foundation principle that was kept in mind while designing was to inculcate in the players the teaching that “Gaining comes only after giving and with mutual growth”, so the rules of the game have been laid out in a manner that to achieve the individual goals one will be obligated collaborate, share and even beg at times.
Also the game teaches core values of planning, strategy and farsightedness, as the players will have to envision right at the beginning of the game their territories and accordingly lay out the finite resources (river and mountains).
Finally the game also manages to foster latent importance of ‘change’ itself. As the players will constantly relocate, sell, upgrade and establish additions, they will learn a lot about the significance of keeping up with the changing conditions and working your way up.
After thoughts :
This was quite possibly the most enjoyable time from my first year. I was quite proud of the level of contextual integrity I managed to achieve in my game. At the same time, I acknowledge the shortcomings and challenges of the game. It definitely wasn’t a playable game at the end of it.
I remember sleeping only for three hours a day for five straight days to complete the project, so I guess it’s mostly because of this that it’ll always be a memorable one. 🙂