[Renga]

by Bernard De Koven on October 11, 2012

[Renga] is, in all likelihood, the “world’s first 100-player laser game.” Perhaps we should let the [Renga]-makers explain: “Renga,” they say, “is a massive co-operative game for 100 simultaneous players that combines strategic conquest elements from games such as Civilisation with action phases inspired by old-school arcade classics such as Defender.”

“Ah,” you say, “cool. A game that 100 people can play together.” Wait, there’s more

The unique hour-long experience had players battling to grow their colony while simultaneously protecting against incoming invasions. Once the colony has grown to a sufficient size, players can use it to fight the final boss, Renga. At Gamecity6, players lost twice to Renga, each time being forced to retreat, repair and rebuild. Different strategies were formulated with the audience developing different colony arrangements before trying once again to defeat the boss. On their third attempt, using an advanced colony layout with a spike attack, the audience successfully defeated Renga. The crowd went crazy as with laser pointers being shone around on the ceiling in a frenzied euphoria.

Here was one specific insight into the game that I found particularly worthy of hopeful note: “What’s interesting about Renga is without any verbal communication players, for the most part, got better at working together.

Of no small significance, [Renga] is what one might call a “facilitated” game, like the chess-playing Mechanical Turk of yore was facilitated by a live human hidden in the machinery. There are equally live humans constantly tuning the game in response to the audience, acting like the New Games referee, also of yore, to keep the game fun. [Renga] is as much of a performance as it is a game – a kind of computer-augmented, audience participation puppet show.

I think what we’re witnessing here is the evolution of something very fun and very deep, and, in addition to the technological wonder, wonderfully human.


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