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Seen@GDC: Playground games


Die Gute Fabrik lead designer Douglas Wilson is comfortable asking people to make fools of themselves, as he demonstrated during his panel at GDC on Friday, "Three Folk Games To Inspire Radical New Video Games." Wilson emphasized the impact that physical, playground games can have on modern video game development, bringing players together outside of the screen. They certainly influenced Wilson's convention-famous motion game, Johann Sebastian Joust.

Wilson asked for volunteers from the audience to step on stage and play three games that influenced Joust: Standoff, Listelanse and the Danish Clapping Game. See a handful of eager audience members hitting themselves and dueling with wooden spoons in the gallery below, and read more about each game after the break.

Gallery: Die Gute Fabrik (GDC 2013) | 12 Photos

Standoff: This one doesn't have an official name, but Wilson and his friends have taken to calling it "Standoff," since it deals with Western-inspired shootouts among 3 - 20 people. It's a variant of Rock, Paper, Scissors, optimized for groups: Players stand in a circle and, on the count, make one quick move to shoot a finger gun at a friend, at their own heads, or straight into the air. Standoff involves a ruleset of what each movement means, including deflection tactics and suicides that actually save your life.

Listelanse: In Danish, "listelanse" means "sneaky lance," and it's actually a dirty phrase if said in the wrong context or to the right crowd, so tread carefully. Listelanse was the main inspiration behind Joust, mainly because "moving in slow mo is really dope," Wilson said. Two players wear blindfolds and hold wooden spoons, and after being spun around a few times, they move in slow motion to find the other player. The first person hit with a wooden spoon loses. On top of that, Wilson recommends playing loud party music over this game to further disorient the players and make them really feel that they're in an action movie.

Danish Clapping Game: Introduced as a school game from Denmark, the Danish Clapping Game is for 2 - 7 players – ideally ones with good rhythm. Players stand facing each other (or in a circle) and slap their thighs, and then they have three options for movement: arms straight up, to the left or to the right. Right after each movement, players have to slap their thighs and go directly to the next move. If the players facing each other make a mirror image, after the thigh slap they have to throw in a double high-five, and then back to the rhythm. The first person to mess up loses.

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