The following is one in a series of game concepts that I thought would be good to get written down for future use or inspiration, either for myself or for anyone else who wants to take the idea further. Be sure to let me know if you make use of it – I’d love to see it fleshed out into a playable game.
I was inspired to jot down this game concept after seeing the way that my mother plans trips with one of her friends over the phone. Each one will open up an internet browser on their respective computers and they will talk back and forth to make sure that they are both looking at the same webpage as they discuss places they can travel to and which hotel looks like the best option.
In fact, they seem to have a lot of fun doing this. From listening to them, I expect that some of this fun is actually coming from the challenge of keeping their browsers in sync while talking to each other. In this process, they are essentially both navigating their way through a maze in which they both must communicate in order to end up at the same goal.
By abstracting this behaviour, I feel that I have discovered something that is instinctively fun that could be effectively implemented into an existing social network infrastructure. Thinking back to when I was first learning to type and communicate effectively through instant messaging software, I actually found that the simple challenge of communicating through text messages to be quite fun. If this instant messaging was coupled with a maze game where both players must ensure that they both end up at the same goal, it could result in a very fun social gaming experience that may be very attractive to players who are new to a given social networking infrastructure and are still captivated by the novelty of communicating with their friends – this game could provide a strong purpose and framework for a fun experience. It may also be perceived to be an attractive social experience for those who are seasoned communicators of these infrastructures.
Some ideas that come to mind could revolve around timers where both players must reach a given area in the maze by a certain point in time. Or, both players cannot be in different rooms for more than a certain time length without repercussions.
Of course, this gameplay mechanic could be applied to a number of different themes. When first thinking about it, a paranormal/ghost theme comes to mind to explain why each player can’t see the other, even though they may exist in the same place. A haunted mansion also makes for the perfect maze environment: Maybe the players, being invisible ghosts, are the ones haunting the mansion?