Ramblings & ephemera

A game completely controlled by the players

From Ron Dulin’s “A Tale in the Desert“:

A Tale in the Desert is set in ancient Egypt. Very ancient Egypt: The only society to be found is that which has been created by the existing players. Your mentor will show you how to gather materials and show you the basics of learning and construction. These are the primary goals in the game–you learn from academies and universities, and then you use what you’ve learned to build things, such as structures and tools. As your character learns new skills, you can advance. …

Higher-level tests are much more complex and require you to enlist lower-level characters to help you complete them. Players are directly involved in almost all aspects of the game, from the introduction of new technologies to the game’s rules to the landscape itself. With a few exceptions, almost every structure you see in the game was built by a player or group of players. New technologies are introduced through research at universities, which is aided by players’ donations to these institutions. Most interestingly, though, the game rules themselves can be changed through the legal system. If you don’t like a certain aspect of the game, within reason, you can introduce a petition to have it changed. If you get enough signatures on your petition, it will be subject to a general vote. If it passes, it becomes a new law. This system is also used for permanently banning players who have, for some reason or another, made other players’ in-game lives difficult. …

The designers themselves have stated that A Tale in the Desert is about creating a society, and watching the experiment in action is almost as enjoyable as taking part.

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