Cruel2BeKind is a game where random acts of kindness kill through benevolent assassination. One of the core dynamics is the anonymity among players which encourages players to do more acts of kindness to figure out who their targets are.
I iterated on Cruel2BeKind by modifying the weapons and instructions to make the game practical to play for 1 day in the rainy weather at Stanford. I had 6 participants, who all started as 1-person teams. The six participants did not know who was playing, but they were all part of a larger friend group of both players and non-players in EVGR. The three weapons that I had were:
- Give your target a hand-picked flower
- Give your target a handwritten note
- Draw a picture of your target
I allowed players to steal members of different teams to encourage more competition in the game by using their weapons against other teams. While this did increase fellowship in the game, it was confusing as a mechanic because players weren’t sure how they could steal team members (“Do we kill them again if they’re already ‘dead’?”). Thus, in a future iteration, I would improve the stealing mechanic, making the rules clear to players before they start the game.
Another modification I made was to introduce creativity into the game as a form of fun. To do so, I made a rule that if two teams used the same weapon, whoever’s weapon was more elaborate won, judged by me through photo evidence. This introduced more elaborate gestures between players in the game.
Players found creative ways to express their attacks – one player used paper airplanes to deliver handwritten notes safely from a distance to increase their team size.
Humorously, another player decided to interpret their weapon of hand-picked flowers by making a large flower out of post-it notes on their target’s door – the idea being that the post-its were hand-picked!
The original game of Cruel2BeKind is not well-designed to be played with a smaller group. The game relies heavily on a mix of non-players and players to interact for it to be successful in its objective of spreading more kindness into the world. Additionally, the game can suffer from a lack of balance depending on the weapons you choose. Some players commented that certain weapons felt weaker or stronger than others. The game ended when one player with Weapon A targeted the rest of the players who were all using Weapon B and had no means to fight back. If I had a chance to rework this game, I would play this game in a larger group of players in an outdoor setting when it’s not raining, and I would also make sure that the weapons were balanced. Another concern was that these weapons could be interpreted maliciously – for example, drawing an unflattering version of someone for Weapon B. To guard against malicious intent, I would replace Weapon B with something more innocuous to protect the goal of the game.