Critical Play: Competitive Analysis — Allie Littleton

I chose to play Manhunt, which is an outdoor physically active game similar in many ways to Capture the Flag. The theme is that all players assume either the role of a criminal or of a cop/manhunt participator. The mechanics are like those of Sardines, in that the criminals are given time to hide before the manhunt begins, and then everyone else goes looking for the criminals. Once a criminal is found, they join the manhunt. However, there is a twist: criminals can move around at will, meaning they can change their hiding spots and even run from cops if found.

This game can promise many different types of fun, depending on the setting and strategy employed. If manhunters decide to team up to find criminals, they can experience Fellowship. If the game is played in a new or unfamiliar place, players will likely experience Discovery as they explore the landscape. For example, my friends and I played this on campus, and a few said they discovered new areas while hiding and searching. Finally, my friends experienced Competition – there were plenty of intense chases and friendly trash-talk once criminals were caught.

The game itself does not handle abuse, but since criminals become hunters once they are caught, there is not much of a risk of abuse. If I were to redesign the game we played, I would make the boundaries smaller on campus – it took a long time for some criminals to be found and seemed to be less fun for those hiding as a result. This is useful information for our Capture the Flag-inspired game – we will be extra considerate of the size of the boundaries and rules regarding hiding the flags, so that teams are not searching for hours to no avail.

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