In my living room sit several boxes of LEGOs awaiting desecration. Over the weekend, I must find a way to contain the cheerful, rainbow-colored dust that this gruesome operation yields.
I have decided to give my game the working title “Deme.” I feel the word more or less sums up what the game is about, and I felt the need to call my project something other than “the game.” It feels more real, and real is what it will have to be before terribly long.
A sticking point in the concept is how we should handle mating and aggression. My instinct is to portray these things as they are, to the best of my ability. I have a couple of reasons. First, wild animals are not subject to our cultural notions of propriety. Second, these things are kind of what the game is about. It would feel weird blotting them out.
However, Deme is going to be available to a general audience. For an age bracket that might not know the ins and outs of reproduction (so to speak), these elements will need careful presentation. Unplanned family discussions about where babies come from are not among my learning goals.
A child might play the game, with the guidance of a parent or teacher, to learn why elk are important. An adult might play to see if she can breed a super-squirrel or beat her personal record for screech owl polyamory. Both learners have different goals and perhaps very different approaches to games in general.
The experience of playing a given game differs from person to person, and from instance to instance. Players can define their own roles and experiences within the rules of the game. This may make our work easier in some ways and harder in others.
Some of these issues can’t be addressed realistically until we get into technical details, but it’s worth starting the conversation now.