2019-02-02 Operation Counter Intelligence

Voyage to the games of an alternate Earth through a matrix of possibilities

Date/Time: 19 January 2019, 18:00-21:45
Location: Home (Kent, WA)
Players: Ron
Games played: Matrix Game (Consensus Fantasy)
Game number: 1 of 10 (see ScoreBoard)
Winner: n/a

One of the 327 or so ideas I like to spread is matrix games. Matrix games were invented by Chris Engle in 1988 and are a little like board games and a lot like roleplaying games — but more flexible and powerful. Matrix games have few rules but rich play. You might think of them as the RPG equivalent of Go in that respect. In short, players don't usually roleplay a particular character, but collaborate in saying how a game world develops. I appreciate matrix games so much, I started the Matrix Games Wiki as a central place to discuss and contribute matrix game material.

Recently, because I had an idea for my book in progress, and as part of my 10x10 game challenge (in this case, to play 10 matrix games in 2019), I spent three hours playing a solo matrix game to develop that idea for my book, Parallel Pastimes, a collection of reviews of imaginary games from a parallel world.

I intended to explore and develop my parallel world of Counter, and specifically Counter's imaginary game with the working title of The Gamer's I Ching. This book/game is modeled on the real-life Solo System (and even in a way the Matrix Game), but rather than being an artificial opponent or gamemaster, it's a player's advisor of a kind called an oracle. On Counter, players consult oracles during multiplayer game play and often take their advice on the game situation and the next move.


I'd like to give a complete report of my expedition to Counter, but I must keep some of it to myself while I continue to work on my book, so what follows is more summary or condensation than "actual play". Meanwhile, I'll just say that this entire scenario was developed on the fly with the help of the Matrix Game. It's a worthwhile writer's tool and also fun to use. Of course it's fun — it's a game.

GigaMesh gossip had it that the game that famous game critic Ludic Flâneur was about to playtest was an improved oracle designed by AI. He did not himself know where the improvements lay. He took the book to a secret game night where all the players of the evening's board game were running (or being run by?) other oracles.

Although LF went to the party to playtest his oracle-on-loan, he found himself far more intrigued by the game on which he was testing it. This was Little Lands of Opportunity, a financial game about crowdfunding competing micronations. He found it so intriguing that (just this once?) he lost all his critical integrity and became an unreliable narrator and Little Lands forever fan.

The Ludic Flâneur's review of the oracle became instead a review of Little Lands of Opportunity, about which there was nothing objectively special as a game in Counter's game-rich environment. But why?

All will be explained. Soon, soon... I hope.

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