Competitive Analysis: ‘Never Have I Ever’

‘Never have I ever’ is a social party game that focuses on conversation and storytelling. The game can be played with as few as three people and its mechanics are simply, yet equally somewhat obscure. It seems that the primary goal of the game is for the participants to learn more about each other by sharing experiences and finding common ground. As such, there is no strict win condition. Because of this, it gives the appearance of shifting between a base state of multilateral competition, to moments of unilateral competition when one person is giving their ‘never have I ever’. Then again, I’m not totally sure if this counts as competition. However, scoring can be introduced, such as by playing a drinking version of the game. 

Similar to our game, ‘Never have I ever’ is primarily limited by the honesty of the players and the topics they choose to discuss. Players may establish ground rules to avoid overly personal conversations, though I’ve never experienced this. The game progresses as players take turns giving their ‘never have I ever’. The conflict and challenge in the game comes from the players thinking of interesting experiences that they (truthfully) have not done, but think that the other players have, so as to make them ‘lose’ the round (by taking a drink, for example).

In regard to game parameters that dictate the direction and level of intimacy in the game, the primary feedback system that can affect these are observing players’ reactions, and the next player is implicitly meant to adjust the topic of their prompt if necessary. This is where issues of abuse and trust come in, as players with varying levels of intimacy could potentially misjudge the comfort levels that the other players have. We will face similar issues but will look to set the tone by including default prompt cards that will be mixed in with those written by players so that there is a baseline established around which the players can build on, ideally in a cohesive way.

We also would like to incorporate mechanics into our game that allow for more strategic angles to be played in each round. In our game, players vote on whether or not they think the person is being honest. We currently have them vote all together but instead might have secret voting take place instead. This would likely create a different dynamic around the voting and the conversations that happen afterwards, as well as creating more opportunities for players to strategise internally, rather than having to come to a conclusion with other players in the group. Though this is not a dilemma that is exactly faced in ‘never have I ever’, the lack of strategy in it is something that can get a little boring if you’re not playing the drinking version, and is an issue we wanted to address in our game.

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