From Alive to Undead and Back Again

This round of Twitter vs Zombies has been different from the two previous. But then again, I reckon the second one was really different from the first.  One of the things I love about the game is that each round is unique…with emergent rules and a vastly different field of players each time, there’s really no way to predict what’s going to happen.  The first time around, I felt like the focus was really on digital literacy, the second time, I felt that the narrative really took precedence.  I think it’s too soon to tell what this round was really about, but for me it’s been endlessly interesting to watch.

I was turned very early on this round…and I was really sad about it.  In reality, I care very little for zombies or really anything supernatural.  I haven’t seen the walking dead or any of what I’m sure are dozens of zombie movies of varying quality. I’m just not interested.  But in the game, it was kind of cool to be a passive zombie.  I never bit anyone, but I was around for a lot of the game.  I would have been happy to trip up a few of my brethren to save my former comrades, but I pretty much just kept to myself.  I can definitely see the draw of being a zombie- it’s freeing in a way.  There’s no more danger, and much more room for really crafting a narrative within the game.  But the humans have done a great job this time around of utilizing the new rules to work their side in as well.  I love the idea of a #safezone roadtrip… it’s pretty clever to literally use the #safezone as a vehicle for narrative.

This time around, I think the game mechanics have been more high profile than in any previous iteration.  We enhanced the community element of the game this time around by adding the G+ space, and I find it fascinating how it turned into a forum for discussing the game.  For good or bad, players this time around have questioned each other’s interpretations of the rules and had lively debates over how best to follow them.  Rather than analyzing any particular dispute, I think the more interesting thing to consider here is what this says about game design and playing in general.

As one of the people who helped write the rules, I’ve wondered more than once this time around what is different than previous runs.  Is it the safe space provided on G+ that lets humans get in on disputes? Is it just that we have a different group playing this time? Are the rules just not written as well as they could be? It could be any one of these, or it could be a combination of all of them.  I’m sure when the game ends we’ll hash it all out, but it’s still interesting to think about in the meantime.  When we design a game, how helpful is it actually to include the players in rule decisions? How do we write rules for #TvsZ that leave room for creativity but are still clearly understood?

These are all great things to think about. But for now, I’m very excited to have a second chance at playing the game.  And I’m guaranteed human till the end, so that’s a pretty awesome feeling.  I will try to do everything I can to protect the humans that saved me and rile a few zombies while I’m at it.  I did always want to be Buffy. Anyway, it feels good to be alive.

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