Jason Rohrer's new game is a devilish gamble with real money

Jason Rohrer's games are often somewhat ... unconventional. Passage was a game about growing old, and Sleep is Death required players to constantly be engaged with the story they were creating in order to keep the game alive. Now, Rohrer is developing Cordial Minuet, a gambling game with an occult twist. Another twist: you bet, and play for, real money.

Here's how it works: two players connect to each other via the internet and, after making their bets, are shown a square with a series of numbered tiles. The numbers shown are different each game, but they always add up to 111. There are six rows and six columns. 666.

What one player sees shows up rotated 90 degrees to the other player, so that one player's columns become the other's rows and vice versa. Players each choose two columns, one for themselves and one for their opponent. The idea is that you want the column you choose for yourself and the column your opponent chooses for you to intersect at a high number. On the other side of the scale, you want the column you pick for your opponent and the column they pick for themselves to intersect at a low number. This repeats for several rounds before a winner is declared.

What's interesting about this design choice is that it bumps up against many online gambling laws. "All gambling laws, both federal and local, hinge on whether a game focuses on chance or skill," Rohrer told Kotaku. "Recent federal internet gambling laws apply to any 'game subject to chance.' This squashes the historical 'predominance' test, throwing games like backgammon and poker under the same bus as roulette. I needed to go further to stay away from this new federal law - my game could not be subject to chance at all."

"Playing for real money is the beating heart of my game," Rohrer said.

[Image: Jason Rohrer]