A 4-player board game prototype, where you don’t have to run faster than the horde of zombies, only faster than your friends.
In many instances, games are created with the idea of the winner in their design. Either by luck or skill, one player will be labeled as winner. That is not the case for every game though. There are numerous examples of games that players cooperate, and either win or lose all together, and there is also the concept of a Viking game. A Viking game is a game designed for one player to be designated as a loser, instead of one player being designated as a winner. In order to explore that concept we designed and prototyped the board game The Corridor, a game where 4 players are running in an endless corridor, away from a zombie horde and faster than the other players, since the player to be caught first by the zombie horde is the loser. During their turns, the players can help or backstab each other in order to save themselves from the horde.
It arises naturally from the rules that the players will try and backstab each other to make their opponents lose the game. Our game encourages backstabbing, since it is an interesting mechanic of social interaction. The way the players can backstab their opponents is by using by blocking the escape path and/or using action cards. Each turn a player is given 4 actions to perform which they can use as they see fit. This gives the option to the player to incorporate simple tactics and strategy into their play, and at the same time the rounds are quick and fast, and the cards and tiles are drawn at random, giving an element of Alea to the game. This freedom regarding the actions is offered to the player in order to give them agency and not force them to backstab or help another player without their will. A player always have the option to draw a card, which by itself is a passive move. Players are encouraged to backstab, as most of the time is the only way to pass another player. We deemed this essential, since if the players didn’t see the reason to backstab and only played cooperatively, then the outcome of the game would be statistical and mathematical, while right now social interaction is the main element that decides who is the loser.
One of the possible problems of designing a backstabbing mechanism is how to avoid players attacking the weakest link, thus making the experience of being last much less interesting than the rest. The way we attempted to solve this problem is by the structure of the space of the game. Players have a limited amount of resources – action points – thus they attempt to move as forward as they can. As a result, most of the time players only interact with players that are adjacent to them. This means that 4th player would usually be out of reach of the 1st player and the 2nd player. Therefore, a chain of interaction is created, protecting the last player from being focused and allowing them to recover.
By prototyping the corridor we discovered those interesting dynamics that are created by the one loser concept. Players try to protect themselves and secure their safety rather than trying to reach the first place. In addition, players would try to cooperate in order to secure their position – e.g. 2nd and 3rd player. Those situation would not arise as much inside a one winner type of game since everyone eventually wants to reach that position.