Guided by the game designers Ulrich Blum and Jens Merkl, students of the Interactive Media major developed their own board games. Usually, the teams come together physically to test and experiment with different ideas, and in the end, present a classic, haptic board game. What happens when the immediate coming together, the most important characteristic of the analog game, is not possible due to a worldwide pandemic?
Not only the workshop had to be transferred to virtual space, but also the game ideas themselves had to function entirely without direct social contact. The students had to look for new ways of playing together and identify platforms and channels that could be used with the means of analog games. The focus of the week-long workshop was not on purely digital games, but on the transformation of unfamiliar, non-game media into playful interaction.
Ulrich Blum and Jens Merkl: "The biggest challenge for the participants was developing initial ideas. We know this from our everyday lives as well. It is much easier to make iterative improvements to something that already exists than to come up with entirely new ideas. However, the blockades could be solved by the participants exploring the inherent possibilities of the media in more detail. Since we were not simply developing "classic" board games, but looking for forms of play specific to the medium, the answer was in the advantages and disadvantages of the medium itself. How is this medium normally used and how can we use this in a playful way? This line of questioning ultimately led to exciting solutions for both groups."
In the process, the students benefited from their experiences during the online semester, as participant Clara Deitmar describes: "We now use several online tools simultaneously to make working together in the home office more pleasant. So we've made a virtue out of necessity and just used these as platforms to develop games in." Participant Till Sander-Titgemeyer notes, "Internet connections and Zoom made the teamwork more difficult. However, Ulrich and Jens supported us well in prototyping our game idea through their high-quality feedback. This showed us that fast iterative concept development can also work very well online."
The project teams chose the online whiteboard tool Miro and the messaging service Telegram as platforms for their games. The fact that both games deal with conspiracy theories is a pure coincidence and results from the current global political situation, in which extreme and absurd opinions are getting more and more attention. Both prototypes take a humoristic approach to the topic and confront its players with the most absurd comical theories. And offer a huge amount of gaming fun in the process.
Developed by Clara Deitmar and Eduard Schäfer
Ich sag nur Chemtrails is an online game that uses the cooperative mind-mapping tool Miro as a virtual game table. Players meet on a shared Miro board and string together conspiracy theories, the crazier and more absurd the better. In a jointly created mind map, the hidden connections between the moon landing, 5G and lizard people are invented freely on a whim. Whoever discovers the most original connection or draws the longest chain of reasoning wins points. The game aims to live out the secret joy of absurd theories in familiar company, to laugh heartily at the current state of the world with black humor, and to let conspiracy theories be what they are: an absurd, entangled game.
All you need to play Ich sag nur Chemtrails is a Miro account (free). Follow this Link, duplicate the Miro game board or copy the elements into a new board and start playing! Game instructions will guide you through it step by step.
Developed by Till Sander-Titgemeyer and Malte Hartleb
Gif me the Clue is an online game that uses the messaging service Telegram and is played in groups. The game leader first chats with a secret agent, (the chatbot Gif me the Clue) who, pursued by the government, must pass on secret information. For this reason, he reveals three secret clues about a conspiracy theory to the game leader. Since the conversation is intercepted, it is now the game master's task to pass on this conspiracy theory to the other players via GIFs. Based on the GIFs sent, the other players have to guess which conspiracy theory it is.
Ulrich Blum is a full-time game designer and lives in Cologne. He studied acting at the Theater Hochschule Zürich and worked as an actor for 8 years. In 2009, he won the Game Designer Scholarship of the Spiel des Jahres jury and from then on decided to devote himself entirely to analog games. His publications include several games for the tiptoi pen by Ravensburger, the board game adaptation of the computer game Minecraft (Minecraft Builders & Biomes) and the dice game "Man muss auch Gönnen Können" which he developed together with Jens Merkl. He also worked on various game projects in formats other than the classic board game coming in a box.
The Heidelberg game designer Jens Merkl studied philosophy, journalism and the conception of interactive media (at Filmakademie), he was a rapper, songwriter and producer, and worked as a graphic designer. Today he is a full-time game designer. His publications include 13 releases for tiptoi (Ravensburger), the communication game "Small Talk Bingo" (Moses Verlag), the dice game "Man muss auch gönnen können" (Schmidt Spiele), and the real-time puzzle game "Nine Tiles Panic" (Oink Games). He also searches for new analog game formats outside of board games, developed for museums and designed a street art piece in Luxembourg City that can be played as an analog jump'n'run together with Ulrich Blum, Jean-Claude Pellin and the street artist Alain Welter.