January 24, 2007

Turning the Horde Inside Out

hodscreenshot3.jpgHorde of Directors is a game by Ian Bogost & T. Michael Keesey is based on THEY RULE . The player tries to convince a corporate board about some activist agenda (apparently some general anticapitalist babble) by buttonholing directors at a party. Each time a director is convinced you also have to convince the other directors at the boards they share. Apparently directors are rather unassertive people who need comfirmation from each other.

It is a well done game and a great way of using the data, although gameplay becomes pretty boring after a while. That is, I believe, the point: the game is futile since more and more directors are introduced all the time. I guess the moral is that changing the minds of directors is pointless because they all form a huge self-reinforcing matrix.

But this seems to be entirely the wrong conclusion. Assuming that the network really is a social influence network (as I argued before, this might not be entirely true), then it would be a good thing to influence a director sitting on several boards.

Maybe the problem with the game is the activist standpoint it is based in. Activism is it is commonly used is about protest, and this is both what the game and the context around THEY RULE do. But in its true sense activism is about changing minds. The babble used in the game is simply generic rather than a specific issue, and hence there is no reason for any director to change their mind. But imagine spreading an idea that would appeal to the directors ("what if we launched fair trade software?! We would earn $$$ and do something good!") instead. They would become allies rather than problems.

Perhaps it is possible to turn the game inside out. Instead of randomly trying to accost all directors of a particular board, the challenge becomes to find the directors that hold the strategic positions in the network to get a maximal amount of change done in the core area. To make it more exciting there could be other players or computer players lobbying for other things turning them back. I actually think a lobbying game would be more interesting than just a demonstration of futility.

Posted by Anders3 at January 24, 2007 11:16 PM