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Jason Rohrer wins GDC's last ever Game Design Challenge

Jason Rohrer wins GDC's last ever Game Design Challenge

March 28, 2013 | By Simon Parkin

March 28, 2013 | By Simon Parkin
More: Indie, Serious, Design, GDC

Independent game designer Jason Rohrer won the tenth Game Design Challenge Championship at this year’s GDC, winning an acre of land on the moon as his prize.

The challenge for this year's group of luminary game designer contestants was to create ‘Humanity’s Last Game.' Hosted by independent game designer Eric Zimmerman, the winner of the competition was voted for via text message by session attendees after a short presentation from each contestant in which they pitched their game.

Rohrer’s game, titled A Game For Someone, was a board game that he secreted in a titanium tube and buried at an unspecified location in the Nevada Desert. Every attendee to the session was given a unique sheet of paper in an envelope listing 900 different GPS co-ordinates.

Only one co-ordinate in one of the envelopes reveals the location of the boardgame. Rohrer estimated that if one person visits a GPS location each day with a metal detector, the game will be unearthed within the next million days. He said that he hopes he will die with the mystery of the game's location remaining unsolved.

Other contestants included Richard Lemarchand, Erin Robinson, Harvey Smith, Will Wright and Steve Meretzky, all of whom presented their own intriguing, idiosyncratic take on the challenge.

Will Wright’s game aimed to disentangle meaningful memories from mundane ones on social networks, while Steve Meretzky, VP of Game Design at Playdom, designed a reality TV game show called No Survivor, in which hacker contestants competed to be the first to break into a nuclear weapon facility and launch a nuke. The winner would be the player that caused the "most megadeaths," he said.

Harvey Smith, co-creative director, Arkane Studios proposed a game written in the DNA code of meerkat-like animals called Fleetings, a game designed to outlast humanity’s collapse.

Contestant Richard Lemarchand, ex-Naughty Dog designer and associate professor of Interactive Media Division at USC, described the contest as "the GDC session most responsible for progress in game design over the past decade." Zimmerman described the session as "thoughtful, humorous, philosophical and mind-blowing."

"My vision for games is that nothing should be off-limits," he said. "Every game we make should be a game design challenge: amazing, thought-provoking. This session exists to inspire us to make a world a better place through play."

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