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.
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.
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.)