29 August 2012

GameTalk - HADR

(re-running this b/c of lack of responses last time)

Gaming HADR - Humanitarian Assistance / Disaster Relief - is a very real problem for the professional wargaming world.
What the important considerations in building a wargame focusing on HADR?
What are the success criteria for the players?

How, if at all, can you commercialize one of these designs in a way that someone like GrogHeads would make a review of it into their cover story?

By: Brant


Jack Nastyface said...

I'm not sure HADR would ever make a popular commerical title unless it was so thoroughly "cartooned" to be humorous or enjoyed as a schadenfraude-esque experience

To wit: disaster response (as opposed to "relief") has appeared in a few computer games (city-builders or G-d games), and those events (earthquake, pestilence, flood, barbarian invasion) often provide enjoyable breaks from standard gameplay where the player a) may delight in the havoc and damage and b) find satisfaction from solving the problem and / or rebuilding.

The only way I can see turning this admittedly sobering subject into a commercial game success would be to create an "up from ashes" scenario. So, instead of starting with nothing (city-builders, G-d games) you start with a large population, limited number of on-board or on-call resources, and a number of random (or predefined) variables (local gangs, cholera out-break, after-shocks, etc) so that your goal is to provide food / water / clothing for many whilst minimizing deaths, criminal behavior, etc.

Using "real-world" avatars, scenarios or situations might be risky in such a game. As a parallel, it is great to fun to build an aerodynamically impossible rocket in "Kerbal Space Project" and watch it blow up on the launch pad (Failure can be fun!) but IMHO it would smack of bad taste to do that in a sim involving astronauts instead of anthromorphosized lizards.

A professional-scale development of this would simply need to include more complex algorithms, using factors such as ethnic / political / inter-necine tensions, graft and corruption, and varying support and aid.

Hmmm...desolate wasteland populated by starving-but-adorable fuzzy animals who will die-off by the droves unless you create food-distribution points and drill for fresh-water? I see a potential iPad game. Concept copy-righted and TM'ed by me as of right now.

Yours in disaster gaming,

Jack Nastyface

Jack Nastyface said...

...well, can't say I didn't TRY to start the dialogue...


Jack Nastyface

Rex Brynen said...

On the HADR issue, we will be restarting the Connections Game Lab discussion on building a Haiti Earthquake HADR game in a couple of months.

In the meantime, the discussions at Connections 2012 have already given rise to a humanitarian coordination card game that Gary Milante designed and recently started using in a World Bank course.