The Thousand Year Game Design Challenge

Daniel Solis has issued a challenge: can you design a game that will still be played in a thousand years? If you think you can, go check out the Thousand Year Game Design Challenge.

Personally, I doubt anyone’s going to succeed, but the constraint is a brilliant one. It forces you to prioritize elegance and simplicity, and to create a game that can resist (or embrace!) variation over time. You also have to think about the way your game will be passed through social institutions. Do parents teach their children? Do children teach each other? Are you relying on a formal social institution, like schools? And if so, what do you think that institution will look like in a thousand years?

I used a variant of this challenge in one of my game design classes a few years ago. I asked my students to propose a game that would be played over the course of a thousand years. I got some great proposals for games in which game position was hereditary; in which a locked vault opened every ten years to allow a new move; in which two foundations were established to competitively play across the generations. I think Daniel’s likely to get submissions that look more like Mancala and less like, well, the awesomely crazy things my students came up with, but I guess we’ll all find out next January!

6 comments

  1. Daniel Solis says:

    Thanks for linking to the challenge! We’re already seeing some very interesting ideas popping up. šŸ™‚

  2. J.B. Mannon says:

    With my own entry, Ha!, I wrote the rules by describeing the process the game went through in design. The rules are simple enough to pe passed on verbaly and play moves quickly. Players who have learned the game can easily pass the rules on to new players with no need for any sort of rules text. I’m really looking forward to what people will do with the game, how the rules might change in the retelling. I am very intersted in how other competitors will approch their designs. What I have seen so far is amazing.

    • Jess says:

      Are people posting their designs online? Or is Daniel collecting them somewhere? I’d love to see what people are doing. (Like, say, you!)

  3. Daniel Solis says:

    All entries are linked in the comments at http://www.thousandyeargame.com. I felt it important that all the entries should be publicly available and playable. First step in playing a game 1,000 years from now is getting it played today.

  4. Daniel Solis says:

    Oh! I also do monthly roundups for each entry from that month.

    January: http://danielsolisblog.blogspot.com/2011/01/thousand-year-game-design-challenge.html

    February: http://danielsolisblog.blogspot.com/2011/03/thousand-year-game-design-challenge.html

    No entries in March, but we already have three for April.

    • Jess says:

      Rock – thanks so much! I didn’t think to look in the comments, but I’m really enjoying your roundup posts. If I didn’t have a dissertation to write, I’d absolutely be putting together an entry of my own. šŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *