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I'm currently working on a DPhil in HCT at the University of Sussex. This section of the website is for an on-going 'learning diary', for me to write my thoughts and notes on various courses and my thesis.

Entries in game mechanism (1)

Friday
Apr012011

Ownership

I've been playing Glitch as part of the alpha test, so there are quite long periods between games. Gives me a chance to peruse the forums etc. There are a couple of bits and pieces I've found that are relevant to my looking at rules, ownership, social norms etc. 

A big one is houses. We've been thinking about our African farmers and how they will need a shared home, but also that we need to make it possible for other people to pick up and use some of their stuff. This is really to allow the possibility of things that can happen in a board game, like someone sneaking some of your money off the table, or maybe 'donating' you some extra things. Also it would facilitate things like helping a neighbour with their planting, etc. Houses in Glitch are owned by a single person, and can be used to store extra bits and pieces. If someone else knocks on the door while the owner is online (anywhere in the world), the owner can give the other person permission to enter. Once they have entered, the player is free to pick up and abscond with any of the items that the owner has carefully stashed in their house. Nice mechanism!

(Also, interesting bit here about moving house and needing help from neighbours to carry everything...)

A new bit of functionality that is being tested today is 'community gardens'. These are basically streets in each area that have a whole load of ready-to-plant beds. You put seeds in them (available from the gardening vendor, or piggies poo them out too), water them, and they slowly grow. There's a forum discussion about them here, and there's a really interesting question at the bottom. "Can we walk off and leave the stuff we planted in Community Gardens without it being harvested by someone else?" (PittyPat) The response was no, they are communal gardens. 

The plants grow so slowly it just isn't really practical to stand next to your plant and wait. I was wondering around today, and a couple of times was running rather low on energy and harvested some of the community garden plants. I actually felt really guilty. Like I'd taken someone else's hard-earned stuff. I think this is a really interesting idea - communal gardens for anyone to plant in, but equally, anyone can harvest. I'll have to keep an eye on them and see if they are well used or become bones of contention!