Delicious Game Design

Posted on May 31, 2017 By

Cannibalism makes for some great game ideas.

Previously, I wrote about my obsession with interest in Alfred Packer, the sole survivor of an 1874 expedition that ended in death and cannibalism. While pondering the story of this infamously well-fed man, I’ve realized that it would make a great basis for a game. After all, it has elements of:

  • Push Your Luck Games: This is a classic game mechanic, and one that cost the Packer expedition their lives. “Should we listen to the natives who say we should stay out of the mountains during snow season, or press onward in hopes of getting more gold?”
  • Cooperative Games with a Traitor: In games like Battlestar Galactica and Shadows Over Camelot, the players are all working together to beat the game… but one or more players are secretly working towards their own personal victory. While we don’t know exactly how the expedition came its grisly end in 1874, it’s safe to say its members were all working together–until they weren’t.
  • Strategic Tension: Games often have a tension between multiple strategies. Any of them can win you the game, but if you embrace any single strategy too tightly, it might actually cost you the game. In a brutal “eat or be eaten” survival scenario, there can be tension between eating enough to keep up your strength vs. making yourself a target vs. keeping your head down and waiting for the aggressors to finish each other off.

As a game designer and armchair historian, I’ve mulled over these elements for years, but they didn’t really come together until the spring of this year, when a trip into the mountains went horribly wrong.*

Next: Road trip of death!


* Okay, it wasn’t horribly wrong. I mean, no one got eaten. But it could have gone better.


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