Of Game Pieces and Interface

His Master's Voice "is a board game. The players can move semi-autonomous ball robots by making sounds. Form and gravity collude with voice, board and chance. Each ball listens to a certain pitch and starts to move if the right frequency was hummed or sung...The initial setting does not provide rules. The players get involved and slowly experience strategies and goals."

There are several reasons for us to pay particular attention to this "Robotic Board Game." Some of them become more apparent as you look at the video of the game in action. There's something clearly fun, and funny, about moving pieces around a board by making noises at them. Learning how to select and control a particular piece is clearly as much of a challenge as figuring out a game to play, and a strategy for playing it. Learning how to control your voice, especially for the atonal few, is in itself a significant challenge. Playing with pieces that seem to have their own intelligence or character, and don't always do what you want them to do, is an experience that is unique to the digital age, and virtually packed with playworthy potential.

And then there's the part I find especially promising - the part where the designer says: "The initial setting does not provide rules. The players get involved and slowly experience strategies and goals." Promising because somehow the game isn't really designed until it gets played. Which means that it gets redesigned every time it gets played. Which means that it, ultimately, truly belongs to the people who play it.

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