Trade Secrets 2

This post was first published on my Tumblr on Jun 11, 2013, and is now updated with my experiences since then.

I was lying in bed, desperately wanting to fall asleep, but I had just watched several episodes of Lie To Me and my mind was filled with micro expressions, body language and lies.

My train of thought took me to one of my old games I had created; Trade Secrets. After a while, I came up with a few ways to change the game.

I never actually got to play the game or see the game played, but in “hindsight”, I can now foresee several problems with the first version. Reading a lot of articles on Daily MTG about game design has really opened my eyes and improved my understanding.

(a) It took too long. Having the game span over several days would probably make the game feel too drawn out.

(b) It was designed with competitiveness in mind. Even though I had said that the main point of the game was to encourage interaction and communication between people, I now realize that I had subconsciously prioritized deception and winning instead.

(c) There were too many rules. The rules were too strict and bogged people’s minds down. In Magic: The Gathering (MTG), if a mechanic doesn’t do what people expect it to do (i.e. it’s not intuitive), then it’s a badly designed mechanic.

So how the new version of the game works is; starting with one player then going round the table in turns, that player will say two interesting things about themselves. One of these things is true and the other is false. Direct communication between non-active players is prohibited. Instead, they can only ask Yes/No questions to the active player. That player can and must answer only yes or no, but he/she may choose not to answer the question truthfully.

At the end of five minutes, each person writes down the statement which they think is true of the active player and the next player’s turn begins. Once everyone has a turn, each player reveals the true statement he/she made. Players with the most true statements win.

With version 2.0 of this game, I’ve significantly cut down the time to play within, say, a meal session. Of course, this time will increase as the number of players increase. I’ve also totally removed competition. Instead, this version will encourage subtle teamwork, have a certain level of deception, while still maintaining the fun of discovering interesting things about others. A side effect is that these bits of info can turn into subjects for people to talk about, especially useful for initiating conversation.

Bonus: after you play the game, you’ll have an excuse to talk to that pretty girl you saw in your group, as well as topics to talk about.

You’re welcome.

-Jace

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