This week, the GDC Vault has debuted a free video of GDC 2011's Game Design Challenge, which saw the rise of the unorthodox multiplayer title Chain World.
This session, officially dubbed, "The Game Design Challenge 2011: Bigger than Jesus," tasked developers with creating a game that also served a religion, and this premise spawned some very interesting results.
The August 2011 issue of Wired magazine recently ran an in-depth feature discussing the challenge, titled 'Chain World Videogame Was Supposed to be a Religion - Not a Holy War.' The article, which is also available online, offers a fascinating look at this standout session from GDC 2011, and provides a look at what happened afterward.
As author Jason Fagone explains in the introduction, independent game designer and IGF Nuovo award winner Jason Rohrer (Between, Passage) created an unusual game based on a USB memory stick and Mojang's hit indie game Minecraft.
Fagone writes, "According to a set of rules defined by Rohrer, only one person on earth could play the game at a time. The player would modify the game's environment as they moved through it. Then, after the player died in the game, they would pass the memory stick to the next person, who would play in the digital terrain altered by their predecessor -- and on and on for years, decades, generations, epochs.
In Rohrer's mind, his game would share many qualities with religion -- a holy ark, a set of commandments, a sense of secrecy and mortality and mystical anticipation. This was the idea, anyway, before things started to get weird. Before Chain World, like religion itself, mutated out of control."