This could be humanity’s final game
One of the highlights of the Game Developer’s Conference, which takes place annually in San Francisco, is the Game Design Challenge. Every year, illustrious panelists try to design the best game concepts on a variety of themes, ranging from a game that could win the Nobel Peace Prize, to a game involving real-world permadeath, to a game designed to be bigger than Jesus, to interspecies gaming. The tenth and final challenge, presented at GDC last week, asked six different game designers (all past challenge winners) to imagine “the last game that humanity will ever play.”
Will Wright, co-founder of Maxis and designer of SimCity and The Sims, came up with a massively collaborative social game designed to preserve the most significant memories of all of humanity so that it could be later experienced by aliens. Steve Meretzky, who worked at Infocom in the 1980s and collaborated with Douglas Adams on the interactive fiction version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, imagined a game that set teams of hackers against each other to see who could commandeer and launch the most nuclear weapons first, with the score measured in “megadeaths.” But the winner, by a huge margin, was an independent game designer named Jason Rohrer.
Rather than just coming up with a concept, Rohrer designed an actual physical game. And not just any game, but a game that was designed not to be played for two thousand years, made out of solid titanium and buried in the Nevada desert. How will it be found? Rohrer revealed its exact GPS coordinates to one lucky GDC attendee, but that attendee doesn’t even know, and it will take a collaborative effort of everyone who witnessed Rohrer’s talk a million days to discover where the game is located.