This page is presented to further games as a means of learning and exploration.

Abstract Games

Explore topology, construction, game play,
and other concepts.

System Models …

of ecology, society, economy,
and other real situations.

Social Explorations…
(this page)

of peoples’ thoughts, attitudes
and interactions.

“Drama arouses our emotions; it captivates and actuates a response. Drama is play and all playing is dramatic. Absence of drama means dullness, boredom, absence of vital interest and lastly, of the life dynamic itself.

We experience as dramatic any pattern of order or meaning that stirs us emotionally… and upsets an otherwise static balance. Drama issues a challenge to restore balance or risk disintegration.”
— Edward C. Whitmont, M.D., in The Alchemy of Healing, Psyche and Soma

Copyright Notice
All the games shown below are copyright © 2007-2019 by Lincoln Stoller, except where otherwise noted.

A Pirate’s Life for Me

Summary: A short game demonstrating the the trade-off between serving one’s own interests versus collaboration in a game where winning requires both.

Pieces: A 10×10 playing map of the ocean that includes 8 small islands and pirate harbors at the map’s four corners. Two ships, three dice (6-, 8-, and 10-sided), and four coins.

Players: 3 or 4 players, ages 10 and up, requiring some intuition for numbers.

Playing Time: Time : 30 to 45 minutes.

Concept: APLfM extends the famous Prisoner’s Dilemma to 3 or 4 players to demonstrate that acting in one’s immediate self-interest can negatively impact one’s long-term gain.

Description: There are two ships and two teams, one team on each ship. One team is the human game-playing pirates, the other team is the pirate’s cyborg adversaries. The game proceeds by the ships taking turns to move around the board fighting each other and fighting for jewels.

prisoners dilemma game business cooperation competition

The Golden Hinde has a crew of cyborgs (equal to the number of players) whose only objective is to kill all the pirates. The Golden Hinde moves according to its program of attacking the Black Pearl at every opportunity and does not require a player to control it.

The players are the pirates who are the crew of the Black Pearl. Each pirate’s objective is to get as many jewels as possible without being killed and return to one of the four pirate harbors. The Black Pearl heads where ever its captain commands, which is usually either toward islands with jewels or away from the Golden Hinde. The captain can also sail the ship to a pirate’s harbor to end the game. The captain is the richest pirate, but the crew can mutiny to redirect the ship if they challenge the captain and win a dice roll.

prisoners dilemma game business cooperation competition

Each pirate has two health points so that each pirate can lose one battle without dying. Any pirate who loses two health points dies and is removed from the game. Pirates can recover their health when the Black Pearl is sailed back to any of the pirate harbors. Cyborgs have four health points. Cyborgs cannot be healed.

Each pirate has one coin that they use to declare whether they are going to fight or hide in each battle. If a pirate places their coin heads up they will fight. If they place their coin heads down they will hide. It is an essential part of the game-play that all players simultaneously place their coins heads up or heads down without knowing ahead of time what the other players will do.

Players consult a Fight Success sheet to know the chance of success in fighting for a jewel winning against a cyborg according to the number of pirates fighting. The more pirates who choose to fight, the better are each pirates chances of winning. Pirates who choose to hide lower the chance of success for those who fight, but raise their own chances of survival.

When a pirate wins against a cyborg the cyborg takes one damage. When a pirate wins a battle for a jewel the pirate wins the jewel. Any pirate who loses a battle for a jewel or against a cyborg takes one damage. In the case of a draw there is no damage and no reward.

By fighting and winning pirates win jewels, and the pirate with the most jewels when the Black Pearl returns to any of the pirate harbors is the winner. If no pirate survives then no one wins.

Bad Neighborhood

Summary: A short game demonstrating the need for some players to collaborate in order to eliminate other players, and then stop collaborating to win.

Pieces: Four identical player boards. A number of identical pawns (gems) equal to four times the number of players. An object that’s rotated to indicate which player starts each turn.

Players: 4 or more people, ages 10 and up, requiring some intuition for numbers.

Playing Time: Time : 10 to 15 minutes.

Concept: A game whose strategy is unclear and whose instability leads to unexpected results.

Description: Each player has a player board with a Home circle and a Car circle. The players sit around the table with their player boards in front of them. Each player starts with a certain number of gems in their Home circle. The winner is the player who acquires all the gems.

Play proceeds in rounds that consist of a placement phase and a distribution phase. The placement phase represents daytime during which players can move their assets (gems) to any cars in the neighborhood. The distribution phase represents the night when thieves rob the car with the most gems as well as the house behind it.

In the placement phase, an initial player is given the Starting Player Key indicating they take the first turn. That player can take 1 gem and move it to any of the player’s cars, including their own. Players go around the circle having the option of moving one of their gems to any player’s car or folding. They fold when they choose not to move a gem. Once they’ve folded, they cannot move any more gems in this round.

In the distribution phase, thieves steal the gems from the car with the most gems as well as whatever gems remain in the house behind this car. The gems that are taken are distributed evenly among the other neighbors. If there is any remainder, it is returned to the house of the player from whom it was robbed.

In the event that there are two or more cars with an equal number of gems, then each is robbed in turn along with those gems in the house behind it. The gems taken are divided equally among the neighbors not robbed in each case, with the remainder going back to the player that was robbed.

At the end the distribution phase, the gems in the other cars are taken into the homes behind them. That is, players keep whatever gems were placed in their cars if their cars are not robbed.

If, at the end of a distribution phase a player has no gems then that player moves out of the neighborhood, and is out of the game.

The Starting Player Key is passed to the next remaining player in the neighborhood. The Key is passed at the beginning of each subsequent placement phase.

All distribution phases proceed in the same manner. As players are eliminated from the game they no longer get a share of the stolen gems, their cars cannot receive gems, as they are removed from the neighborhood.

The player that accumulates all of the gems wins.

Marathon

Summary: This fast and strenuous game requires 4 people to run around a table, without bumping into one another, while moving sets of swinging arms using nothing but their breath.

Pieces: A central tower with 4 independently gimbled sections supporting 4 independently balanced and differently colored, freely tipping 3-foot beams. From either end of each beam dangles a foot covered with velcro pile. A circular board with an annular region divided into quadrants whose colors match the beams. 4 velcro pile covered strips in each of the 4 colors. 4 sets of 6 round, velcro hook covered wooden disks, one set in each of the 4 colors. 4 differently color drinking straws with elbows. 2 foam blocks to act as obstacles to the rotating beams.

Players: 4 people, ages 5 and up, excluding those who are motor or respiratory impaired.
Playing Time : 5 to 10 minutes
Concept: a game that is sculptural, kinetic, and physically engaging.

Description:
Each player associates him or her self with one of the 4 colors and stands in front of the symmetrically arranged “home strips” of that color, moving their beam and leveling it above their strip. The round, hook-covered, colored disks are placed symmetrically in the quadrants of their color. Each player holds a drinking straw in their mouth.

Players simultaneously race around the table moving their balance arms only using the air blown through their straws. Each player tries to be the first to pick up a chip of each of the 4 colors and bring it back to their home strip.

Chips are picked up by blowing the beam’s velcro foot down to touch and attach to the velcroed chips. The beams are then blown back to deposit the chips on the player’s home strip.

Players must not touch the beams, except to disengage chips from them, and players must not jostle or elbow each other.

The first player to gather all four color chips on their home strip is the winner.

Hate

Summary: This noncompetitive, group dialog explores what people mean by “hate,” how the term is used, what personal hateful experiences players can share, and how others understand those experiences.

Pieces: A deck of 100 4″x5″ note cards. 20 green chips or cards, 20 red chips or cards. 30, 60 and 90 second sand timers or a stop watch. A computer and projector to display the two short movies attached here.

Players: 6 to 30 people, ages 14+

Playing Time : 30 to 120 minutes.

Concept: The word “hate” is frequently used yet so poorly understood that it’s not clear what we mean, or what is communicated.

Here we draw equally from all participants to demonstrate both how widely the term is misunderstood, and how few people recognize or explore its meanings.

Description Part I: Before the game begins the 5 minute video Hate: Part I presents a montage of generally light-hearted hateful images. Each person in the group is then assigned a number at random and given a note card. Each person is asked to write short definitions of hate on their card.

The cards are collected, shuffled, and drawn at random by the people assigned numbers 1 to 10, or the people in the first half of the group if there are less than 20 people playing. Each person is given 90 seconds in which to provide their own explanation of the definition written on the card they have drawn.

Those people who are not reading definitions are each given a green and a red card. After each definition is presented, players can “cash in” their green card and present no more than 30 seconds of support, or cash-in their red card and present up to 30 seconds of disagreement. Once commentators have used up their green and red cards they cannot comment further in Part 1. Part 1 continues until all the definitions have been read.

Description Part II: In the second part of the game everyone is asked to write a paragraph describing something hateful they did. These are collected, the insubstantial stories are culled out, and the remaining stories are redistributed at random to people other than those who authored them. Those who did not present a definition in Part 1 are asked to present the story they picked in 120 seconds or less, out loud, as if it was their story. The person to their left is then asked to spend 30 seconds describing how they would feel if they were the victim of this action, and the person to their right is given 30 seconds to review the event from the point of view of an observer. Story presentations continue as long as there are interesting stories to present.

The game concludes with the 12 minute video Hate: Part II (download .MOV file) which presents a montage of dark-hearted, hateful still images. The first 2 minutes of this video can be viewed online here: Hate: Part II(excerpt) Warning: this video contains graphic, violent, and disturbing images. Young people under 14 or sensitive people should either avoid this video, or watch it with someone who can help them understand the meaning of these images.

“Hate” was created as a collaboration with Joy Chiu.

Orgy of Moderation

Summary: 4 naked people, two male and two female, strive to make each others acquaintance in the biblical sense. Body parts disassociate in the endeavor to match one’s units with those of another. The object is to avoid being in the extreme when the score is settled.

Pieces: 4 players, each of a different race, are represented by 9 magnetized pieces : 2 eyes, 2 breasts, 2 hands, lips, genitals and a pair of buttocks. The pieces are loosely attached to a metal hoop marked off like a ladder into 36 spaces. The game starts with each player’s pieces naturally ordered.

Play takes place on all sides of the hoop. Players must spin the suggestively undulating hoop to see who’s monkeying around on the other side. Score is kept by moving pegs whose color matches the players skin. Over-intellectualizing is prevented through the use of a 30-second timer.

Players: 4 people, ages 7+

Playing Time: 30 to 50 minutes

Concept: A pure strategy game that highlights the essential question of gaming: “Where does a game’s meaning come from?”

Description:
Anatomically correct players move their disconnected parts around a 1-dimensional world trying to conjugate.

Co-genital pairings gain both players 4 points; other pairs score less. A third player can win points by adding their eye to a couple’s intimacies. One can lower one’s score by “slapping” an other’s part in non-amorous contact. And one can even score alone by paring one’s own hand and genitals, but this results in the loss of an eye.

The game ends when the sum of all players’ points reaches 40. The player with the highest points is a loser because, as we all learn sooner or later, there is more to life. The lowest scoring player looses for Darwinian reasons. The two middle-scoring players win by virtue of their moderation.

Your Life Set To Music

Summary: Unprepared speakers and untrained musicians interact through word and sound.

Pieces: Speakers select a topic from a deck of 56 topic cards, whose topics include:

Being naked;
A love story;
Happy childhood event;
Something you stole;
Your worst outfit;
A story about birth or creation.

Players: 4 to 40 people, ages 14+

Playing Time: 20 to 60 minutes.

Concept: How is the speaker influenced by the musician, or the musician by the speaker? How are you influenced as a listener? What will you remember?

Description:
The group is divide into speakers and musicians. The speakers examine and then select a topic from the deck of topic cards. Each speaker is to recall or invent a 2 minute story related to this topic. Speakers should avoid their familiar stories and find new and uncertain stories that may be affected by the music and the audience.

One person, designated as the host, has the job of cueing the next pair of performers, and alerting each speaker when their two minutes are up. Speakers present their topics one after the other, without break or interruption.

Musicians accompany speakers by inventing a rhythm on the Zoundz to match the story being told. Each of the Zoundz’s sculptures triggers one of three prerecorded rhythms of a type specific to that sculpture. For example there is a strings sculpture, a percussion sculpture, a bass, and so on.

Lift a sculpture from a site and its rhythm fades away. Brush a sculpture over a site and a single beat is played. Continuously add, remove, or replace sculptures in any fashion to create a sound scape for your speaker’s story.

When speakers and musicians listen to each other something new and unexpected can be created.