This post was a long time coming. About a half a year ago, a group of us decided to create the worst game ever. It (the game) was terrible, so I guess we succeeded.
During the emerging scholars meeting, a couple of people talked about using some of the time to create a tangible product. The first idea was a game jam, but people didn’t seem particularly thrilled to try and create a game (from to start to finish) in about 2 hours. Making a good game from scratch in such a short amount of time was definitely a lofty goal, so instead we created the first Worst Game Ever Jam.
Knowing that we were making the worst game ever worked well for two reasons. First, because we weren’t worried about making a “good game” we were able to create something quickly without worrying about quality. Second, because it our goal was to make a terrible game, we had plenty of ideas.
We used the KJ technique to brainstorm what makes a terrible game. By the way, I highly recommend the KJ technique to anyone trying reach a consensus quickly. It’s worked very well in several occasions. Here are some topics that came up:
Liver! The game (my favorite)
Exploring body functions
Water Treatment plant: an epic saga
Bodily functions: exploring the inner body
Watching paint dry.
unwinnable (It’s a word)
Tutorials for everything
Too little instruction (Not knowing how to play, or what the controls are)
Moving makes your character die
Require math problems (have math problems give a wrong answer).
Spamming social networks (Tweets, friend requests)
Collects player data
The game makes you feel bad for failing
A lot of NPC conversations
Assigns a grade at the end
Everything is orange!
After wading through the suggestions, we decided to make an educational game using LOL cats, micro transactions, and incoherent instructions.
We decided to give our project a title. I forget what the original title was, but after we put it through Bable Fish a couple of times we ended up with “You can play a role in reshaping the beautiful”. Pure gibberish. It was perfect.
We then split up the work load in a way that everyone could contribute. We needed art, narrative, design, music, and coding. I can’t stress how much dropbox helped to coordinate this. Once everyone had a way to contribute, we set out to create an abomination.
After 2 hours of talking about what makes a terrible game, we ended up with this. Play it at your own risk. We’re currently trying to sell it to Zynga.
(The ‘kickin’ sound track, by Osvaldo Jimenez, is set to drop NEVER. Maybe we’ll put it up on soundcloud.)
As Jim Gee, a co-author of the game, pointed out, thinking about what makes a terrible game was actually a great way to avoid those pitfalls in the future. I think this is terribly important for game designers (and people who work with games, but havent tried to create one themselves). Bottom line, making a terrible game forces you to think about why a game is terrible and lets you work towards fixing those problems. It’s also a good way to get out those frustrations. I plan on doing another Worst Game Ever jam in the future.
Have an opinion about what makes a terrible game? Leave it in the comments.