We Are Dancers

In Cybercultures I established a premise or concept for my game project dossier: a Turing Test for people to play with/against each other and determine who among them was a sentient AI pretending to be human. With the help of a friend and former student of Game Cultures, we developed two different game mechanics to explore this idea.

Idea #1:

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This is a conversational card game. There would be 2 combined decks: a human deck (65%) and an AI deck (35%). You would shuffle the decks together and deal each player 2 cards which could be a 2 human, 2 AI or 1 of each. The aim is to guess through conversation who is human and who is AI.

Idea #2:

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This is a slightly more complicated card game involving 3 different decks.

Players are characters in an AI research facility. Due to lack of funding, everyone shares and swaps roles (eg. researcher, engineer, psychologist, etc.)

Deck #1 is a composite of all these different roles and the associated abilities they possess. Included in this deck is 1 of 3 possible AI character cards: benevolent, malignant, indifferent. (Potential for expansion would mean including more of the AI characters.) There is a possibility for swapping roles with the deck/maybe other players. This aspect will rely in part on bluffing and deception for both the humans and AI.

Deck #2 is a large selection of AI attributes and components. Gameplay will begin with each player contributing to the AI building using components based on their roles or swapping roles in order to access other components.

Deck #3 is a timer deck. At some point during a 14 day cycle, players will discover one of the characters was replaced with the AI they were building. The remainder of the gameplay is discerning who is the AI, what do they want and responding accordingly using the abilities from the first deck to dismantle or influence the second deck.

There is opportunity for table talk in this game, which I believe can make for very entertaining and enjoyable gameplay as well as exploration of deeper issues such as the notion of sentient AIs walking among us (in the form of cyborgs as depicted in Terminator, Ex Machina and so on). The influence of The Resistance and Coup can be seen in the concepts of deception and sabotage or ulterior motives executed by the AI during the build portion of gameplay.

Thomas Matthews’ post ‘5 Tips for Teaching Game Design to Non-Gamers’ had two very valuable points that are influencing my process:

2) Reference other media

Graphics, especially in the design and characterisation of the three AIs will be heavily influenced by representations of AI in media, as already mentioned above.

3) Design in reverse

I started with the concept first and, through work-shopping, found some mechanics that reflect the desired effects. The first instance of this Turing Test was imagined as a visual novel played through on a computer. (I’m still not convinced this isn’t a good way to imagine this game being played. It very much reminds me of Emily is Away.)

7 thoughts on “We Are Dancers

  1. Hi Kae,
    I immediately thought of Bladerunner, and how Deckard has a series of questions he asks to determine who is or isn’t a Replicant (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blade_Runner)(in case you haven’t seen it). How would the players determine who the AI is? Do the cards provide them with some clues as to who it is, or does the tabletalk help players to figure it out?
    I like the idea of the tabletalk, where people can discuss and try to determine who is the AI amongst them. This is kind of like the game Mafia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mafia_(party_game)) where a group of people discuss and accuse to try and figure out who the mafia/murders are before everybody in the group is killed. The murders in this game have to be cool in the face of accusation and have to be able to act innocent and pass the blame onto someone else so they are not found out. Would you game have consequences for the players if they cannot figure out who the AI are in a certain timeframe? Would players be killed off, or would the game be over if they cannot identify the AI in a certain amount of time or within a certain amount of turns?

    I like the idea of AI and how it can provide opportunities for discussion and thinking about AI in our lives and the dangers of this advancing technology. I’m keen to see how this turns out 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a really cool idea for a game that I haven’t really seen implemented into anything other than movies and I think that the game is extremely interesting and has a lot of promise. The game reminds me a lot of the movie Ex Machina which you referenced in your post. In that the idea of the movie was that the creator of the fictional Google has created an extremely advanced AI and that he had invited one of his employees in to perform the Turing test to see if it passes as an advanced AI which I believe could become an extremely tense game if implemented well.

    I really love the idea of having being a mainly conversational game where you give most of the playing experience to the people and use conversation as the main playing mechanic which would allow you to create a game which is very simple (in a good way) while also being extremely deep as what is more challenging than having to figure out who is the AI. I would love to play this game. What I was thinking is that

    Like

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