Blog Post

"Breakthru" game template sketch for DIGW

The idea behind DIGW games is that they should be fairly easy to set up and play, while at the same time using data (especially data related to the Millenium Development Goals) in ways that are integral to the play of the game and not just "add-ons."  Users can then create instantiations of games by entering data into game templates.

The current game template in DIGW is based on a game Fred invented a while back which he called "Pic-Tac-Toe" -- it's 4x4 tic-tac-toe, but instead of placing marks directly on the board, you place them by "picking" one of two items that appear randomly at the top, and your mark goes to the square that is associated with that item.

We chose that game to start because it is relatively straightforward to play and to implement, but our plan is to have other kinds of game templates, and Fred has been working on some sketches.  Here's one:

The game is called "Breakthru," and the object is simple: Move your pieces to the other side of the board, while blocking your opponent who is trying to do the same thing but perpendicular to you.  There are two twists: (1) there is a "neutral" piece which either side can move for purposes of blocking, and (2) you can "jump" another piece (straight or diagonally), *if* your piece has a higher value than the one you want to jump.  The values are where the data come in -- imagine a game based on, say, median per capita income in various countries.  Each piece would have the name of a country and carry the corresponding value.  (The value could be displayed on all pieces for "easy" play, or hidden by default and revealed only at certain points -- for example, when a jump is attempted.)

(Larger image here)

As always, in terms of learning through interaction with DIGW, playing these games is important, but not nearly as important as making them (i.e., coming up with accurate and interesting sets of data to populate the template).

We'll be posting more of these ideas as time goes on...



The data that leaps to mind for a game of Breakthrough? The periodic table. Atomic numbers and/or weights provide the pieces' values. In either case, it's useful for a budding chemist to either memorize these numbers, or at least have an idea of what they represent. Just a suggestion, but one I wouldn't mind seeing implemented.


What a neat idea!  Certainly, any kind of ordinal data could be used....