Print-and-play: 'Operation BP: Bullshit Plug'
The standards that any game idea has to reach are pretty high before we'll even consider it for publication. It has to be right in so many ways that, invariably, many smaller ideas are left on the cutting room floor. But it seems a shame to leave them there, gathering dust, so we thought we should make quick, downloadable games and give them away. This would solve our problem.
So here it is Operation BP: Bullshit Plug: our first print-and-play game. You need nothing else but a printer, some card, some scissors and two pieces to serve as counters - pennies do nicely.
This game is for two players. Each player takes a role - either 'BP' or 'The Public' and each player has two cards that represent two possible strategies. BP is trying to shore up its dwindling share price, while the public just want the leak plugged. Both players pick a strategy and play it face down, simultaneously. These are then revealed and the effects on the share price and the leak are worked out. This action is then repeated until the game ends. It's very simple, takes just a few minutes to play, but is also quite devilish and deceiving.
For the game-design/psychology geeks among you, Operation BP: Bullshit Plug is (as you probably know if you're a game-design/psychology geek) actually a variant of the classic Prisoner's Dilemma. In fact, it's a re-iterative prisoner's dilemma with a non-finite amount of iterations (although the iterations can safely be presumed to be fairly low in number). This makes co-operation in the game rather difficult.
Things to look out for: The game is best played without speaking. Let your actions communicate for you. In this way, co-operating and defecting can be used as both encouragement and punishment respectively. Also be aware for any patterns of tit-for-tat behaviour: these can either spiral out of control or lead to a calm compromise, depending on what behaviour is being mirrored. Above all, watch out for any possible penultimate moves in the game and think carefully about what the other player will likely play in this situation before stating your strategy.
Incidentally, there can be no greater satirical comment on this crisis than browsing the "In pictures: a response" section of the BP website. You can almost hear the grinding of marketing teeth each time they feel they have to stay on just the right side of the reality divide and include a shot of an oiled animal or soiled beach. Even those photos look remarkably clean and not much to worry about. The most incredible thing though is how everything reflects an air of calm, clean, professional control. No animals suffocating in oil, no ruined marshes, not, literally, a cloud in the sky. Now compare these.
Feel free to leave any feedback - we'll certainly do more if this turns out to be a good use for our 'reject' ideas.
Posted by TerrorBull Games on 15 June 2010 - 9 comments
Comments so far:
- Nice! But to actually build the game, I have to cut holes in the main board! Would be nice to have the cards on an extra sheet.Brettspielplatz.de from Germany - 16 June 2010
- Excellent Idea ! great game I can use to teach a bit of english !!Wolf from Perpignan, France - 16 June 2010
- A german translation of the game can be found here: http://bit.ly/aKnx4BBrettspielplatz.de from Germany - 17 June 2010
- Thanks for the little game you've just released! (I've had my course on game theory, so it's not that interesting for me to actually play it, but rather to show off…) I've just downloaded the PDF; now I'm counting the seconds this website will stay online. Thanks even more for the two links at the bottom of the site. Does make you think. So similar and yet…Benjamin from Romania - 17 June 2010
- I almost forgot: Yes, give us more of these!Benjamin from Romania - 17 June 2010
- Brettspielplatz - thanks for your wonderful translation work. I know it's a shame to cut up the board. I was attracted by economy of form. Maybe next time we'll publish cards etc. separately. Cheers for the feedback.TerrorBull Games - 17 June 2010
- Hi, What a funny game, to joke about this problem. But, as I study the prisoner's dilemma, I think that the solution Trust/Fix should be +1/+1 (Share +1, Leak -1). Like that, BP could have interest to make the Fix solution (but it always better to take the PR solution). Thanks for this very funny "serious" game !! Thomas from France - 18 June 2010
- Hi Thomas, thanks for your comment. I think you're right and this isn't a classic prisoner's dilemma set-up. I fiddled with it a bit to avoid a situation where there was any easy, co-operative path to a joint win. I like to think this variant mirrors the real-world events a bit more, since BP quietly getting on and fixing the leak would not lead to a gradual increase in share value, nor a lack of criticism on behalf of the public. Most likely the shareholders would see a lot of money being spent and they'd be unhappy too. But I'd be very interested in any variants that you come up with.TerrorBull Games - 18 June 2010
- I am unable to download this game is it still available?ANIAN from CALIFORNIA - 6 September 2012