Designing Games to Be Played Over 25 Years
Katie Salen is a game designer, interactive designer, animator, and design educator. In 2009 she founded the first ever digital school for grades 6-12, Quest 2 Learn (Q2L) in New York. She is the co-author of "Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals," a textbook on game design, as well as the "Game Design Reader." She writes extensively on game design, design education, and game culture.
\r\nKatie Salen: I actually designed a Hobbit board game when I was \r\nprobably eight years old, in my closet because I was slightly \r\nembarrassed at the time. And so I had been reading the Hobbit and I \r\nthink at the time I was less interested in that it was a game and I was \r\nmore interested in drawing the characters and sort of imagining this \r\nincredible world that I’d been reading about. So that was my first game\r\n that I designed way back when.
\r\nThe first sort of digital game I designed was really, back in 2003, and \r\nit was the game called The Big Urban Game, that was commissioned by the \r\nDesign Institute in Minneapolis. And it was a game that used these \r\ngiant inflatable game pieces that people raced around the city over the \r\ncourse of five days as a way to get the people of Minneapolis and St. \r\nPaul to think about the design of their city. And so the digital \r\ncomponent of that game was a kind of Web site where people called in and\r\n voted. And so that was really the first big game that I designed.
\r\nQuestion: What are "slow games?"
\r\nKatie Salen: Metropolis Magazine, which is a design magazine, was\r\n having a 25th anniversary issue a couple of years ago and they asked \r\nmyself and Frank Lance, who I mentioned, and Nick Fortuno, another game \r\ndesigner in New York, to develop a set of games for the magazine. And \r\nso we began to think about, well, "What is an element of games that if \r\nyou modified it in a way, it could have a dramatic affect on how you \r\nthink about games?" And so we just picked the element of time. We \r\nthought, well what if we moved away from this notion, and this was in \r\nmid-2000s when casual games were really blossoming. And so the whole \r\nidea was people playing games in snack-like sizes. So people would have\r\n five minutes, they could play a game, they would have a minute, and so \r\ngame design became about shortening the time it would take to play. And\r\n so we were interested in thinking about, well what would happen if we \r\nelongated that notion of time and it was a game that might take 25 years\r\n to play... What would that game look like? What would that experience \r\nof play look like? How would it change your relationship to the game? \r\nAnd so the notion of "slow games" evolved out of that idea.
\r\nSo we had one game that was call, I think it was called, "The Last \r\nFax." And so the whole game was to be the last person in the world to \r\nsend a fax. We had a game that we registered a product bar code in \r\nadvance of something ever being invented, and the person that invented \r\nthe invention or product that got to use that bar code would win the \r\ngame. So, there was no sense of when that bar code might come up in the\r\n queue of inventions.
\r\nThere was a kind of cross word puzzle game where there was one clue a \r\nyear that was given. And it took 25 years to complete the game. And \r\nthen there was a game that had a drawing of, I think there was a donkey \r\nthat had headphones on and had some kind of crazy backpack. And the \r\nidea was that you would take a piece of paper with that drawing on it \r\nand you would look at it, and then you would put it away and once a \r\nyear, you would take out the folded piece of paper and you would win the\r\n game if you had forgotten what was on the piece of paper.
\r\nSo, we were working with the idea of sort of memory there that there’s \r\nalways these artifacts that are laying around your house and could you \r\ncultivate a game where the goal was to not remember a game piece rather \r\nthan remembering what the kind of answer was?
\r\nQuestion: Are you still playing these games?
\r\nKatie Salen: We are, and there are very few people that are still\r\n playing them. They were really conceptual exercises and not so much \r\nintended to be played, but the fax game still goes on. Faxes, \r\nparticularly in real estate, very popular. And the product code hasn’t \r\nbeen used yet, so that game is still open.
Recorded May 7, 2010
Interviewed by David Hirschman
The game designer was tasked with creating games to be played very, very slowly. When the last fax (ever) is sent, someone will be a big winner.
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What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
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American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
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