I think before approaching the systems game, I assumed we would end up with a game like Pandemic or Root, where the complexity is captured in the fact that there a lot of rules, a lot of pieces, a lot of physical space is taken up, and the game takes a long time. I think it was really fun to instead work on capturing a system that’s a little more emergent and subjective in its complexity. While the game begins with players defining some key traits, it’s the moments where they’re forced to create and role-play scenarios in which the complexity really comes into play, because the truth is that it’s hard to make this decision, hard to balance and find reasons to either stay or move, and this mechanic of the scenarios aims to capture that.
It was also interested to think about the kinds of emergent relationships happen between players. In the phase of the scenarios, players are able to be exposed to a wide variety of reasons that might inform a student’s decision to move or stay after college since there’s usually some variety in decisions after chapter 1. Whether or not the students are planning on staying or moving in real life, the game provides a space to explore in a concrete and low-stakes way what might inform one’s decision in either direction, building empathy both for themselves and other students.
My team ended up having an interesting discussion about how the game could be expanded away from role-play and into more of a teaching tool or exercise. The question of whether or not to use the players’ real traits was a question throughout the design process, but in the end a game with judgements and dice rolls and point allocations, potentially happening with strangers, was better suited for something more low-stakes. If it was adapted to use real player traits, those mechanics would probable have to go and be replaced by something else, but we think there’s a lot of potential to use this as a space for students to feel more in control of their futures and their decisions.
Overall, I learned about capturing complexity through simplicity, and I’m excited to see where this game/concept might go in the future!