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Community Game: Anagram

Yesterday, in addition to launching the new site, I also published a quick little collaborative game called Anagram. It’s free, you play it in your browser, and it’s the sort of game you can play on your lunch break.

There are a lot of things about this game I’m excited about, so I’ll break it down.

1. Good Tech

First, the technology for this game is interesting to me. It’s a Google Form that’s been embedded into the web page one field at a time. This means that the form’s fields follow the styling of the rest of the site. When you submit the form, it goes to a Google Sheet, and that Google Sheet is then used to generate the list of responses.

There’s a lot of implications to this. Like, you could create a form that lets people design their own spells or playbooks or setting entries, and then presents the submitted entries directly on the site for anybody to read. If you’re designing a game with templates, that could be a really cool method of engagement with players and designers.

This presents some ethical considerations, of course. Any time you crowdsource content, that content becomes a part of your creation. If you monetize the content, that’s a problem.

For Anagram, I made the game free, and added a tip jar. Tips on Anagram are (hopefully clearly) for the development of the tool, not for the content itself. If that’s not clear enough, if people think I’m the one writing these entries, then it’s on me to make sure that the page clearly communicates what the tips are for.

Anyway if you want to leave a tip, you can do that here too.

Artboard Created with Sketch. Leave a Tip on Ko-Fi

2. A Setting In Discovery

Anagram is a space-fantasy setting that imagines what life would be like in an interstellar society that has no widely available travel options, meaning that although we can communicate with people across the galaxy, we can’t meet them face to face.

When I think about space fantasy or science fiction, usually my mind gravitates toward space flight, interstellar travel, light speed engines, lightsabers… But in reality most of the people in that space setting don’t live their lives on spaceships. We couldn’t afford the fuel, let alone the cost to maintain those vehicles. Most of us would be earthbound, stuck on whatever planet we or our ancestors happened to be on when the FTL engines fell out of public use.

Anagram is about living on one of those planets, meeting people from somewhere else, and wanting to share a piece of your life with them. Sometimes sharing looks like a story. Sometimes it looks like venting about your day. Sometimes it’s just a few words, without context, for those who get the joke.

Much like Mnemonic, Anagram as a project is aimed at letting people tell stories that are personal to them. I have stories I want to tell in this setting, and I probably will tell them at some point. But this game is about that initial question: what do you want people to know about the place you live that they might not realize if they’ve never been there?

3. It’s Free!…?

Yes, this game is free. I built it in about an hour, mostly as an experiment to see if it would work. I do think it’s worth more than free, but for this I want to make sure it’s financially accessible. Because that’s the whole point of Anagram: it’s the remaining method of contact that anyone can access and use.

I hope you’ll check it out. Some really nice and personal stories are being told.

If you think it’s neat, or if you just like the layout of it, maybe consider dropping a couple bucks in the tip jar.