Developer buries game in desert he doesn't want played for 2,700 years

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Mar 29, 2013, 4:40 PM EDT (Updated)

 If any of you tabletop game enthusiasts are looking for a treasure-hunting project, we've got a quest for you.

Game designer Jason Rohrer is known for getting experimental with his games, but this time the creator of The Castle DoctrineDiamond Trust of London and Passage took things to another level: He designed a game that no one living now is meant to play. 

Rohrer presented his game, called A Game for Someone, this week at the 10th and final Game Design Challenge hosted by the annual Game Developers Conference. The 2013 challenge theme was "Humanity's Last Game," so Rohrer decided to design and build a game that's not to meant to be played until centuries from now. According to Rohrer, no one -- not even him -- has played A Game for Someone, and in theory no one will until nearly 3,000 years from now. 

Rohrer took inspiration from Mancala and other ancient games, and also drew on the ideas of architects and builders who spend decades and even centuries building cathedrals and other massive buildings, knowing full well they themselves will never see them finished. After designing the game, he had to find a way to playtest without actually playing it (which would ruin his "no one living now has played this" idea). To achieve this, he first built a virtual version of A Game for Someone (which he showed in a limited form during his presentation, leaving out certain things so no one could reverse-engineer the design) and put the rules into a "black box" program, allowing AI to test the rules, find problems and solve them. 

From there it was time to build the physical game. Because he intends it to be around for thousands of years, Rohrer couldn't use traditional tabletop game materials like wood and plastic. Instead he built the pieces of A Game for Someone out of titanium. He printed the rules on acid-free paper, sealed them in a glass tube and placed that inside a titanium cylinder. From there, it was time to bury it.

Rohrier chose a remote location in the Nevada desert, went there alone and buried A Game for Someone himself. Only Rohrier knows the exact GPS location of the game, but he has given the world a way to find it. 

When his presentation began at the Game Design Challenge, guests found a envelopes placed on the seats, each labeled "Please do not open yet." After presenting the game, Rohrer asked the audience to open the envelopes. Inside each envelope was a sheet of paper with 900 different GPS coordinates on it. Rohrer gave his audience more than 1 million unique coordinates in those envelopes, and he estimates that if one person tries one coordinate each day, the game will be found in 1 million days, or about 2,700 years. 

Of course, someone could get lucky and find the game tomorrow, but it's very likely that A Game for Someone will stay buried for a very, very long time. Perhaps forever. We have no idea what the game is like, no one does, but maybe someday a future gamer will have a lot of fun with it.

(Polygon via Ars Technica)

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