Testing Revolutionary Games with Verbs
My workshops get better each time I present them, so I’ve decided to try beta testing new sessions. Recently I did a dry run of Making Revolutionary Videogames with Verbs, a workshop I co-designed and will be co-presenting with Paolo Pedercini at the Allied Media Conference in Detroit. Here’s the description:
Want to make a videogame, but don’t know where to begin? Try starting with something we’re all familiar with: verbs! Whether it’s running or collecting, games are driven by verbs. In this session we’ll look at games in terms of actions and explore how these actions express the messages and values of the game creators. We’ll identify the verbs used in popular games and what these verbs say. Then we’ll modify (“mod”) these games, changing the verbs so they express our own messages and values. This is a paper prototyping session — there will be no computers and no programming!
In the modding section, participants (5 adults and 2 kids) were put into groups of three and assigned a videogame to hack. I provided visual assets and dealt out random “issue” cards, asking the teams to use new verbs and rules to redesign the game so it told the story of the issue they were assigned.
The games that came out of the session were pretty impressive:
- Mario used a fishing and delivery mechanic to transport food to hungry neighbours, who would then help you fight Bowser, who was sending out Goombas to destroy the food.
- Pac-Man incorporated RPG elements to tell the story of school bullies. In order to defeat the different types of ghosts/bullies, you needed different skills/fruits such as physical strength, charisma, and empathy.
- Space invaders became a multiplayer game using a Lemmings-like guidance mechanic to infiltrate G20 proceedings. You could play cooperatively or competitively.
The session went much more smoothly than I expected. Based on my observations as well as direct feedback from the participants, Paolo and I will be tweaking the session plan so it’s clearer and more engaging.
If you want to participate in the live version of Making Revolutionary Videogames with Verbs, come to the AMC!