A deadly infection has overtaken the world! Infections are spreading like wildfire, your goal: cure the infected before they infect you!
For BCM300, the game I have created is called Infection. It is a card game similar to Mafia, Ultimate Werewolf (2008) and Love Letter (2012), where players embody a character which they must keep hidden, and try to survive till the end of the game, by either ‘curing’ or ‘infecting’ everyone. I have also used mechanics similar to Monopoly (1933) and Hearthstone (2014), by implementing item cards, each with their own abilities, and money cards to purchase more cards or trade with other players.
The theme of the game is that of a disease outbreak and participants play as either an Infected character or a Healthy character. At the beginning of the game, character cards and item cards are shuffled and handed out to all players along with $10. The Infected team must infect all other players whilst the healthy team tries to find out who is infected and cure them by sending them to the Hospital. To differentiate Infection from other games such as Love Letter, where players are killed or eliminated, the inclusion of the Hospital is there to keep players in the game. One of the biggest criticisms of social deduction games is that players killed in the first few rounds are no longer able to participate, as demonstrated by this article (Kotaku.com, 2017). Therefore, I have included the hospital to combat this criticism, differentiate from other games and hopefully appeal to more people.
I believe that Infection falls into Roger Caillois’ category “Mimicry” (Imitation) from his book ‘Man, Play and Games’ (1958), as the game places a large emphasis on role-playing as the character you are given. However, it also fits into “Alea” (Chance), as the cards you’re given are determined at random.
Furthermore, Infection also reflects his definition of paidia as the game is open to negotiation and is more free-form in terms of play when compared to games such as Monopoly. This does not mean it doesn’t reflect ludus however, as the game does still have winners and losers as well as a clear objective. Jensen (2013) defines paidia as to ‘incorporate rules, but not one that “define a winner or loser”‘. During the playtesting stage of the game, paidia is especially evident as the game’s rules are constantly being changed, removed or added in a spontaneous manner.
Since my last post, I was given feedback by my Tutor, and from this I have devised the Hospital (see above) and created my prototype character and item cards, and received some feedback regarding these. One piece of feedback for the game was that rather than someone having to volunteer to be the moderator, have it as a character card and shuffle it in to have a random moderator, however, introverted people may find this daunting. Originally I had planned on having players stay in the Hospital for 3 rounds, and any Infected people in there would infect the others, however after showing my family and talking about my game, one person pointed out that this would stop the Healthy team from winning, because there will always be people in the Hospital, so any Infected people would never be cured.
Therefore, I am going to test a number of different options to see how this can be worked around, such as:
- Have no one get infected in Hospital
- Have a coin flip/card draw to decide what players leave as infected/cured
The cards I have created are a very rough prototype, and I am planning on sticking with these 16 cards during playtesting, especially with the restrictions in place due to COVID-19 currently, preventing me from testing with larger groups. However, I would like to create more character and item cards should the opportunity arise for me to test more.
Another piece of feedback I was given was that when creating my cards, try not to use images of people, instead, use art and illustrations to avoid copyright infringement. For the prototypes I have not done this, but for further changes I will.
One student also suggested adding a character card called “Pathogen”, which is only able to infect people directly to the left and right of them, which I feel could be very interesting mechanic to introduce. Additional feedback was given such as lessening the amount of rounds spent in the Hospital to 2.
I also gained feedback from other students, who suggested that I include some more negative cards which effect players differently to the other cards, and will allow for more interesting scenarios as players work together/against each other with these new challenges, and hopefully I will be able to include more ability cards that provide even more scenarios. I have also made some changes in the rule book to make the game easier to understand, as pointed out by someone else.
As part of my Digital Artefact, I also helped other students by providing feedback on their games. I commented on Nathan Sullivan, Julia Belikova and Nicole Papadimas’ games and hopefully provided some invaluable feedback for them (see below).
You can also view the feedback I was given below.
Moving forward, I will be playtesting my game with family, friends and my partner. I aim to receive feedback which will help me improve Infection, either by changing the theme, mechanics, adding new cards, etc. or leaving it how it is. I am also hoping to find the right solution for the Hospital, and will test both options discussed above, as well as any others I think of or are suggested.
Caillois, R 1958, Man, Play and Games, viewed 15th May 2020
Jensen, G 2013, Making Sense of Play in Video Games: Ludus, Paidia and Possibility Spaces, Eludamos. Journal for Computer Game Culture, pp.69-80, accessed 15th May 2020, https://www.eludamos.org/index.php/eludamos/article/view/vol7no1-4/7-1-4-html
Un, H 2017, Why I’ll Never Play Werewolf Again, Kotaku.com, accessed 12th May 2020, https://www.kotaku.com.au/2017/10/why-ill-never-play-werewolf-again/