The annual Game Design Challenge is our favorite part every year of the Game Developers Conference ... and thanks to errors in understanding our Google calendar, we missed it. (Note to self: remember time zone differences when adding events.) Fortunately, Gamasutra attended and wrote up the session for us to peruse.
This year's theme was to create an inter-species game, one that could be played by another creature. Last year's winner Alexey Pajitnov design Dolphin Ride, a shooting hybrid of the virtual and real worlds that has players working co-operatively with the dolphins. Brenda Braithwaite designed OneHundredDogs, a series of games for dogs (and their owners) to play with and against one another centered around a Facebook-style website.
The winner of this year's challenge was Steve Meretzky, creator of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the game). Meretzky decided to expand his potential audience early by targeting the largest demographic: bacteria. Thus he created TrayStation, where millions of bacteria in a petri dish will have to fight off "defence microwaves." Those that don't perish would "level up." Said Meretzky, "It's the game that makes germ warfare available to the whole family, the game that puts the fun back into fungicide."