0.6.1 – Game Mechanism test – Primary

Hosted at Primary in Nottingham, this test was played with a group of the resident artists using the latest version of the game.

The game was set up in the reading room with a boom holding a time-lapse camera to record the progress on the board. Lunch was provided and allowed time for introductions and an overview of the game before we started.

With five player,s the table was not overcrowded as now we only need three proposal decks.

The game play sparked some really interesting discussions and the mechanism worked a lot more smoothly. The planning process in pairs worked really well, allowing players to get into detailed one-on-one discussions about the possibilities before presenting them. The clear proposals made it a lot easier to vote on. Having a Facilitator allowed for flexibility and negotiation over what was possible and how much it would cost and create.

However, not enough time had been allowed for. The game only got to fourth year. The play sped up as the players got used to it but it will take 2-3 hours to play a complete game and reach year 8-10. With food, introduction and feedback, another hour should be allowed for as well. In a larger event, different players could take over as the game progresses and still get an idea of whats it is about.

The Score Board was a bit clunky but it worked okay. Having it on a stand on the table would make it easier for players to keep track of.

There had not been enough time to set up the Precariousness Scales previously planned for the Actor Cards before this test. So instead, the players were asked at the beginning of the game to list two or three desires they felt their Actor would want to achieve during or by the end of the 10 years of game play. They would all need to achieve at least one of these by the end of the game for the group to win.

This was a simple solution and got the players thinking carefully about their Actor from the start of the game. The feedback on this element was very positive so it will stay for the next version and series of tests.

One of the key issues was the lack of connection to the site. Partially this was due to the players not being familiar with it but the board and place cards will need to be reworked in the next phase of development to integrate the site further into the game-play.

It also failed to clearly record the progress and decisions made by the players which could then be used to input into real design proposals. This can be addressed as it is reworked. A method of systematically taking design input from the players will need to be looked at too. Alongside this, Facilitator guidelines can be drawn up on how to create new boards for different sites.

The top-down time-lapse camera reveals the limited recording of the progress on the board:

Feedback forms were given out to the players with questions about the game-play but only a few were returned. This is probably due to there being too many questions. I will refine the forms for the next version. Feedback forms will be used as part of actual games as a way of getting further participatory design ideas.

The feedback was all really useful. The key points which will be considered and taken forward are as follows:

  • Renaming the Actor cards to Advocate Cards so they more clearly represent their role in the game.
  • Clearer design of card types so that they can be more easily differentiated. The card deck holders proposed earlier should help with this. The card and board sizes will also be scaled so that they fit together and pack away neatly.

Ideas to be considered in later versions:

  • Die roll for People Power outcomes to introduce realistic variations of success.
  • Allowing players to use their own contacts and resources in the first turn if they relate to the interventions in place of the PP/cost required. To connect people’s personal interests, represent realistic input from founding members and make it faster to get started.
  • Bringing in player and advocate connections – the refined site board and place cards need to be flexible so that players can bring in their own connections.
  • Clear game objectives on the Score Board. These could vary depending on the required output from each game. Options can be outlined in a Facilitator guide.

A number of intervention and wildcard ideas were also given which will appear in later updates.

One key comment which all the changes need to work towards was: “Game strategy and real life strategy don’t always match up, which is both interesting and frustrating”.

Next Steps:

Along with the changes above, the next phase of development will be a major rethink on how the site/board element works. This step will take the game to version 0.7.

A Facilitator’s Guide will be made for setting the game up for a different location. This will be tested by setting up a new version of the game in a neighbourhood in Nottingham.

The original site will be tested with players from the SHU M.Arch course and the Sheffield CLT both familiar and able to give feedback on the content and site.

The changes and testing schedule will be outlined in the next few posts.

Many thanks to the play testers: Adam Grainger, Rebecca Beinart, Theo Reeves-Evison, Roger Suckling and Nathaniel Mann

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