By Melanie Kim

PonGnoP is a pong palindrome. The idea was to start out with something completely basic and throw it out of whack to replace the original goal of Pong with that of cooperative exploration by messing with borders, scoreboard, etc.


you only LIFE once – melanie, ralph, sylvia

YOLO is a modded version of The game of LIFE. It is a card game that requires resource management of personal values in order to have the most fulfilling life and has optional improvisational storytelling mechanic. The instruction can be found here.

Iterations and goals.

  1. Personal values were introduced to the original board game. Non-normative career cards were added (religious official, revolutionary, Übermensch, etc.), each with their own benefits. Our core theme was non-normativeness and a kind of pointlessness to what appeared to be significant in one’s life.
  2. Branching paths were introduced to #1. Interesting narrative arcs were suggested as the main mechanic. The player should feel like he or she is not playing a game but is in fact participating in life itself.
  3. As we kept adding in card mechanics to the board game, we realized this game could be simplified and be better as a card game. We changed #2 to a card game and tried to adjust appropriately, mainly using resource management. Personal values as a mechanic were fully integrated by this point, and the chaining system as a narrative arc was introduced.
  4. YOLO system was introduced when we thought of what would count as the “win” condition while keeping in line with our core theme. The cash in and chaining systems were finalized with the YOLO points.
  5. Balancing, lots and lots of balancing. Play testing and tweaking numbers, optimizing for three players.
  6. Our final iteration: encouraging players to accumulate but ultimately throw away their personal values for that big moment of living life to the fullest, having only those carpe diem moments matter in the end, while admitting that these moments can only happen when players have something to lose. Storytelling element was for people who wanted to immerse themselves in the life revolving around those YOLO moments, to create meaning out of an otherwise meaningless life.




melanie – best game fest

3:10 to Nashville (I wrote out the basic rules here)

This two-stage game is cumbersome to explain but quite easy to get used to. The last stage has more fun elements, like the regular players can still participate in the final shootout if they still have their own cards remaining from the shootouts of the previous stage–they can use the cards to “deflect” enemy cards if they are the same numbers. It was fun to play, for sure; there were different ways of interacting with the players, such as screaming across the street to challenge the other player while cars were passing by or sneaking around opponents. We even found deceitful strategies, such as having only one card on hand and still engaging in a duel, so even when you lose, the opponent has not only wasted a card but also cannot win a card at all from you. There was also a safe strategy to stick to: using your highest card in every duel so that the enemy can’t win it in the random pick even if he/she wins.

However, the game could be more complex by utilizing more of the face cards (maybe kings having different powers from queens, jokers being wild cards) and being less dependent on randomness (e.g. some players had a lot of high number cards, thus dominating the duels). Maybe face cards can even be used in duels for more complexity, and the factions could be defined by wearable props (hats!!).

Turtle Wushu (rules here)

It was impossible to not think about Joust while playing this game. Admittedly, Turtle Wushu is arguably easier and more active because the turtle is free to vibrate on your hand as long as it doesn’t fall. We later found out that it was (kind of) important which turtle you chose too–tortoises had a very slight advantage because of their footing. I wanted the game to have more relevance to its name though other than the turtle figures you would play with; Joust was okay because the name of the game implies some sort of arena and people battling it out among themselves. Couldn’t the disqualified players of Turtle Wushu do something more, like slowly moving around the playing field like a turtle and interfering with the players still in the game? It would bring elements of revenge (“you just knocked my turtle away so I’ll help in knocking away yours!”) and more engagement from disqualified players, as I noticed they would just idly stand by and become uninterested in the end. Some didn’t even notice who the winner was.

subversive play – tetris

I misplayed tetris in two parts.

1) Cinematic viewing of tetris: I would watch the tetris blocks from various versions of the game fall down until the game “ends.”

2) Drawing in tetoris (provided to me by Paolo), the most inefficient and unfun tetris game ever.

The process for both were incredibly boring. I was so used to tetris being fast-paced that waiting for the blocks to fall down or trying to assemble them in an aesthetic way was tedious. But the goal was to completely go against the scoring system of tetris (erasing lines), which encourages an efficient playstyle, and I’ve succeeded on that account (score of 0 + completely inefficient way of playing tetris).