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Cybership 370 BC : Designing a Tabletop Metagame - THATCamp Games 2013
  • Cybership 370 BC : Designing a Tabletop Metagame

    Plato was the first documented author to use the Kybernetes as a metaphor for city-states and humans to make Just laws and decisions.  “Cyber” has become a Modern, mainstream media buzzword, and its Ancient origins may surprise and enlighten you.  “Cybership 370 BC” is currently under development as a Humanities game that teaches “Cyber” etymology and Platonic Philosophy.  The words Cybernetique, Cybernetics, and Cyberspace are each based on only one of three related roles of their namesake: the Ancient Greek Kybernetes.  “Cybership 370 BC” highlights these 3 roles of the Kybernetes; ship Navigator, Commander, and Steersman; along with the study of feedback among these roles and the ship’s crew.

    It is also a meta-game to teach other game designers about the origins of Cybernetics as a study of feedback in systems.  The design choices of Tabletop gameplay and an Ancient Greek naval Trireme ship as the game’s setting reinforce the lesson that concepts such as Cyber-, Cybernetics, and Technology are not dependent on tools, electronics, wires, or gears.  The contrast between the ancient roots and the relatively recent allusion of the game’s title to a futuristic setting, reinforces the irony of misappropriation of “Cyber” in linguistics.  The relationship between people, knowledge, and tools in Technology, Epistemology, and their sources in the Ancient Greek concepts techne and episteme, further shows the common misappropriation and contemporary connotations underlying “Technology” and “Information Technology”.

    The basic goal of the session is communicating the roles of the Kybernetes and feedback among their crew members; presenting the origins of Cybernetics to game scholars and creators.  As a Work-In-Process, potential game mechanics under consideration include dice, cards, board, roleplaying, and turns.

    Ross Bochnek is the first researcher/author to present “Cyber” so holistically, and his paper “The ‘True Pilot’ Of Cybernetics became a resource for American Society for Cybernetics (ASC) 2011 Annual Conference.  You can read it and more via his blog www.rehumanizing.us  Ross will be developing this game and accepting advice about it throughout the weekend.  The possibilities offered by presenting original research, both as in-development and playable games, have their own merits for study in many Education and Communications fields.

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1 Comment

  1. Ross Bochnek says:

    Game Development Update:
    I’m considering creating a mod for the 1980 boardgame Trireme. More rule and resource info on Trireme can be found here: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/1709/trireme

    BoardGameGeek is an amazing site with forums, marketplace, and a ton of other features. They also list several games about the Peloponnesian War with great boards and rules that may provide me with inspiration here:

    Either as a supplement to an existing game or a standalone game, I’ve been brainstorming for game resources including tiles, board, dice, and a few cards.

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