Something that’s important when creating games for buildings is the question of identity. Identity – registering a person, linking the state of a game to a person, tracking essential data – is fundamental to a satisfying game experience. Imagine if Blizzard’s World of Warcraft servers just forgot you, and your Level 82 Rogue disappeared… We expect that a game will remember where we were up to, and pick up exactly where we left off, and we expect that to be seamless and instantaneous.
In a public cultural space, we have some severe limitations around the tracking of identity through digital means. Not only is it pretty much impossible to enforce sign-up – we’d have to hide the entire show behind a sign-up process, which would be pretty dull – but also we shouldn’t expect players to have smartphones (thus ruling out QR code-type solutions), and we rejected systems like RFID on the basis of cost and reliability. Yet we wanted a video game-type feel of identity tracking – that a player’s actions would stack up and be recorded by the game.
The answer, in the end, was the simplest one. The building displays a visual readout for each player at the end of each game. Each player is responsible for logging their own scores on a specially designed and printed scorecard. At the end of the experience, the player enters those details into the game, and discovers their result. This is how golf works – and, as in golf, we’re relying on a player’s innate sense of fairness, and the likelihood that they will be playing with others who will keep them honest.