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9:00pm on Thursday, 26th November, 2009:

Conference Game


Suppose you were to go to an academic or business conference or show, and were told it had a game running. You don't have to play if you don't want to, and it's drop-in, drop out. The rules are as follows:

The idea is to collect business cards of conference participants. At the end of the conference, you go to the game's operators with a stack of cards and get a score. The highest scores get a prize. The stack you get scored can consist of up to 26 business cards, one for each letter of the alphabet. The letter that a card stands for is either the first or last letter of the name on the card (your choice). Each card is worth one point with a bonus point for each of the following criteria that the card satisfies: it is printed on both sides; it has 3 or more colours (ie. the card stock plus two ink colours); it has 4 or more contact details.

Would you play the game? Would you pretend to play the game, just so you had a magic-circle excuse to talk to someone you wanted to talk to (or at least to get their card)? Would you hand your business card out to people whom you suspected were going to trade it for the one you really wanted? Would you be angry because your surname starts or ends with X and people keep coming up asking for your business card? Would it depend on the conference — yes if it were a games conference, no if it were a business show?

The rules outlined above are what one group of my students came up with in class this afternoon (team green; we didn't have time to see what teams red and blue designed). These rules are after playtesting, which consisted of my giving students 15 cards taken at random from my vast collection and letting them trade with each other. The highest score was 63, assuming it was added up correctly; most people got in the 50s, with the lowest at 44.

There were some problems, for example cards with names in Chinese or Greek, or which were printed on transparent plastic, but most were easy enough to score.

Not a bad effort, I thought.

The premise was mine, by the way, so feel free to use it next time you're setting up a conference...

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Copyright © 2009 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).