Space Game – Blueballs

blueballslogo2
Blueballs
Designed by Jorge Brake, Andrew Cerrito, Yu-Ting Feng, David Rios, and Jing Zhao

Development:

The third major design challenge in Big Games was to design a game around the characteristics and constraints of a particular space (in our case, the blocks immediately west of ITP, up to and including Washington Square Park). From the start, our team gravitated towards a more active or sport-like game. We also were intrigued with the idea of using the streets in active gameplay – partly due to the taboo/danger factor of playing in the streets being exciting, and partly because the structured grid system of the streets would be easy for players to navigate.

We began by thinking about other games on structured grid systems (like the old Nokia cellphone game Snake) and also traditional sporty, sort of rough-and-tumble games like Capture the Flag. We thought that it might be an interesting mechanic to have a game similar to capture the flag, but with the ability for a team to block the routes of the other team by creating obstructions in the street grid. We ran in that direction for awhile, thinking teams could block each other by drawing chalk barriers in the streets, but we were never able to form a solid game system around that mechanic.

From there, we knew we wanted to keep the streets as an obstacle to be overcome, and our final game began to take shape when we discovered some giant blue inflatable yoga balls at the nearby K-Mart. We decided that players would have to carry these giant balls around the street grid to take them to a base, but that they were not allowed to carry them across any street intersection. Instead, they must be thrown or bounced across the street, at which point they are vulnerable to interception from the other team.

Rules:

1. Two teams compete to score the most points in 30 minutes.
2. There’s a total of 4 balls. One ball = One point.
3. You score points by dropping off balls in your base. You can bring balls dropped off at the enemy team’s base back into play.
4. Both teams start in the middle of the map, with bases in opposite corners of the map.
5. The game starts with two balls in each team’s base.
6. Players can move freely across the map but balls cannot be carried across the street.
7. Balls can only cross the streets by being thrown or bounced across the street.
8. No passing diagonally across intersections. Lateral passes only.
9. Balls can not be thrown/bounced at or anywhere near vehicles.
9a. Don’t be an idiot. Don’t run into traffic!!!!
10. Players from the opposing team can attempt to intercept the ball at throwing points. Once someone possesses a ball, you can’t smack it from their grip.

The play area with team bases:

Playtest Impressions:

Our team was spread thin during the actual execution of the game. 2 of us were stationed at the bases, 2 of us were running around taking pictures, and one of us was guarding people’s bags and personal items at the center of the grid. Because of this, none of us could really act as referees, so some rules were broken during play. We would need a larger game team if we were to ever run this game again. Players also reported that the grid was maybe a little too big, making it hard to meet up with other team members and successfully score. Other than these two setbacks, players seemed to really enjoy the game. Just watching from one of the bases made me kind of jealous that I couldn’t play as well!