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Stanley E. Anderson's
Wine Dark Sea Games
Dionysus, god of wine, in his boat,
by Exekias, circa 540 BC
These game ideas attempt to capture many of my aesthetic, intellectual, and creative enjoyments in a "board game" or "friends sitting around in the living room" format. Most of these games have a goal, scoring method, and winner, but often the play is so much the primary enjoyment that one hardly cares what the score is, or who wins.
I have divided the game ideas into two groups below. "The Playable Ones" vary in development from "essentially complete", to "still undergoing refinement". I am always interested in any improvements and variations for these games and welcome comments.
Ideas for games usually come to me while I am otherwise engaged in some fun activity. I will suddenly get a vague, shadowy feeling that "there's a game idea here somewhere, but I'm not sure what it is". Ideas that are still in this initial "feeling" stage form the second group below, "The Vague Shadowy Feelings".
I confess to that universal game inventor's paranoia and nightmare about having one's ideas stolen and turned, royalty-free and unbeknownst to the inventor, into the next "Pictionary". This fear results in the inventor's intense secrecy about his game ideas (e.g. "I have this great game idea, but if I told you about it, I'd have to shoot you). But I finally overcame this fear, and figured I might as well get the ideas out there for exposure and hope for the best.
As usual in these types of situations, please try them out on a personal level and let me know what you think (firstname.lastname@example.org). I'm like everyone else; I enjoy feedback, but do consider them copyrighted. Give me credit if you tell your friends and don't make that nightmare mentioned above come true.
Stanley on Vancouver Island
- Newest changes:
- 2/8/98 -- added Between This and Thought word game page.
- 10/26/97 -- added new Online game -- Probable Proverbs Online
- 10/19/97 -- added new Online game -- Al Dante: the Divine Comedy Word Game.
- 4/21/97 -- changed graphic on Starry Night page.
- 4/17/97 -- added Cryptic Scripture page.
- Between This and Thought -- Not your standard "Dictionary definition" game. How many words can you come up with that fall between the two first-and-last entry words at the top of a dictionary page?
- Probable Proverbs (parlour game instructions) and the new Probable Proverbs Online version-- "Too many cooks spoil the broth". Re-phrase that, this time with alliteration. Okay, how about "multiple meal-makers mutilate mulligatawny"? I also now have an online version. Check it out and add your own Probable Proverbs to the list! Also, look for the spin-off, Lyric-al-literation.
- Al Dante: The Divine Comedy Word Game -- This is an online poetry/word game based on Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy (you know, Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradisio). If you are capable of writing in iambic pentameter and following a rhyme scheme, you can add your own personal (and possibly humourous) example of something in this world that represents Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven to you.
- Starry Night -- Connect stars into constellations to capture areas of a night sky. This is a great (proud parent, here) pencil-and-graph-paper strategy game for two players. My email correspondent in Denmark, Rasmus Pagh, has also created a Windows computer version that you can download from his home page.
- Jewels in the Sand -- Only the Sultan knows what objects are "jewels". Everything else is sand in the desert. You must devise a "logical" sieve that will sift the jewels from the sand.
- H. M. S. Encyclopedia: The Encyclopedia Lover's Game -- I never find the information I want in an encyclopedia quickly. I always get side-tracked for forty-five minutes looking at all the other interesting entries. Sound familiar? If so, then check this out.
- InVerse: The Poetry Game -- A friend once complained about Scrabble that "the 'quality' of the word doesn't count". In jest, I replied, "The only perfect word game is writing poetry." But then I thought, "Maybe there's a game idea there." The results were surprising.
- Like the Dickens -- What will Charles Dickens say next?
- First Home Memories -- Where was your first Teddy Bear's hiding place? In what corner of the yard was the tree with the rope swing? Find out in "First Home Memories."
- Disneyland -- You can buy this terrific large map of the park there, showing all the rides and lands. To boot, it has wonderful marker spots (drawings of characters) all around the edge, Monopoly board style. I've got this great idea (as they all say), but since I don't work there, I'm sure my chances of doing anything with it are zip-a-dee-doo-dah.
- The Eyes Have It: The Eyewitness Book Game -- The Eyewitness Books, published by Dorling-Kindersley are wonderful children's picture (i.e. photographic) books on various subjects. I've always thought they could be used for some kind of game. Here are a couple of different games that might appeal to children (maybe some of us adults, too!).
- Cryptic Scripture -- This is not a game, but a set of Bible puzzles created for our church newsletter from a few years ago. I tried to avoid the typical Bible crossword-type puzzles.
- Walled Gardens -- All I have so far is the title; but what a perfect title for a game with a medieval atmosphere! It conjures up images of a luxuriant board with playing pieces of walls and weeping willows and roses and secret doors. I don't know what the goal is yet, but I'm intoxicated with this idea.
- Bible Game -- There has to be an idea out there that avoids the "one more trivia game" syndrome. I've drawn a "map" with 66 countries, one for each book of the Bible. You travel from the westernmost country of Genesis through groups of allied countries like the Pentateuch (the five books of Moses), the major and minor Prophets, Histories, Poetic, etc., across the great river dividing the Old and New Testaments, through the Gospels, Acts, Epistles and finally to Revelation on the east coast. But how does one travel in the game? I'm getting close to an idea based on the process outlined in the Disneyland Game page. Stay tuned! This might be workable as an interactive website game.
- Flow Charts -- I don't care what the classes say, I refuse to use flow charts for programming. But they'd make a great strategy game. You stick your last "go to" piece (yes, in this game it's okay to use them) off of the other guy's "yes/no" decision branch and disrupt his entire flow. Now he has to take a different route.
- National Geographic Maps -- I've seen various geography games. None really impress me. But I can unfold a National Geographic map and gaze at it indefinitely. Just think, a new map game board delivered by mail to subscribers every couple of months or so. If only I can figure out what you DO with it, gamewise.
- Roget's Plan -- In the back of my Roget's Thesaurus is "Roget's Plan of Classification". It attempts to organize everything (yes, Everything) into 1000 numbered categories and sub-categories. It is fun to look over and I'm convinced I could make a game out of it.
- Stained Glass Windows -- What beautiful boards the images would make. The dark leading around the shapes of coloured glass form pathways for the tokens to travel along.
- The Object of the Game -- There's this "thing", see, made out of various pieces that connect together. You hold it and turn it over in your hands and study it from all angles to decide where best to add your piece before passing it on to the next player.
- ThatsAllOneWord -- I have no idea. I just like the title. Some kind of word game, obviously.
- Wildflower Game -- Just look through one of the Roger Peterson Wildflower Guide Books, particularly the series of yes/no questions at the beginning that narrow down the identification process. And how about the neat species icons. There's something there. I've almost got a nice board design worked out, using the questions and icons.
- The World Wide Web Board Game -- I don't know what this game is, but it is such a wonderful oxymoron that it begs to be invented.
- House of Mirrors -- Add diagonal mirrors in the room to see who can create the longest path of reflection. Another pencil-and-graph-paper game, but I haven't got a workable process and goal yet.
- Star Maps -- I already have Starry Night (see above), but I want to create a game that uses real star maps; you know, the old-fashioned kind with the pictures of the constellations drawn in the background behind the stars. You hop from star to star along the connections or something. Again, please, not another science/history trivia game (trivia games are okay; there are just too many of them around).
- Islands of the Wine Dark Sea (or) Water of the Wondrous Isles -- This one probably belongs in the other group. I've gotten lots done on this in the past, but it is so involved, with fancy pieces, and initial effort and creative input from the players, that it will probably always just be a dream. It was one of my first serious game ideas and I hold it as a kind of Beatrician Vision in my mind.
In this game each player has an island containing some kind of puzzle to be solved in order to find a treasure. Each player sails to the other player's islands to explore and find the treasures and then return home. The appeal is in the variety of possible islands, puzzles, and treasures.
The phrase "Wine Dark Sea" is a wonderfully evocative image from "The Odyssey" and I've decided to use it as the collective name of my game ideas (happily, my initials are also "SEA"). The other name, "Water of the Wondrous Isles" is an equally evocative title of a William Morris fantasy novel. I could never decide which of the two to use for the title of my ultimate dream game idea. Feel free to send me your vote.
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Created: 10/15/96 Updated: 10/15/96