It has not yet been widely recognized, but I believe it to be true: We have much to learn from coaches of large sports teams. Directing live gamers in a pervasive play experience is a skill and art that has much in common with the practice of coaching live sports.
This thought has been simmering in my head for awhile, but a NYT Magazine article about a maverick, extremely playful college football coach, brought it to a boil today.
"There's no such thing as a perfect game in football," Leach says. "I don't even think there's such a thing as the perfect play. You have 11 guys between the ages of 18 and 22 trying to do something violent and fast together, usually in pain. Someone is going to blow an assignment or do something that's not quite right."
Putting literal differences aside, metaphorically this passage speaks volumes to me as a pervasive designer. The Leach's pragmatic mindset is just one example of the benefits of a coach mentality for pervasive game designers. There's no such thing as a perfect play, especially when you get a lot of gamers together, excited, adrenaline rushing over playing in such an unlikely and public space, and the emergent factors associated with Big pervasive games... so how do you prepare the players, and build the live gaming system, to adapt? How do you design for imperfect play?
Last night Kiyash and I went to our friend Zach's birthday party and invented a game called Chicken Soccer Bowling. Designed to be played in hallways. It was a blast. A full report, with photos, rule sets and a starter mod list coming in the next blog post.