In MAKE 08: Roachball goes Open Source

I wrote a short piece in the latest version of MAKE (the digital version will be available when the next version comes out). It documents an open source ball game that my friends at Platial were involved in creating. This is an actual outdoor game played with actual balls...nothing digital involved, other than the rules Wiki. Here's a sample of the piece:

They started playing standard kickball on the bocce court, but quickly had to modify the traditional rules. The bocce court was too small for there to be three bases, so they appropriated cricket's two-base system (but kept kickball's baseball-inspired system of strikes, outs and innings). From soccer, they borrowed the idea of throwing the ball back in when it goes out of bounds, and that led another important change. As Wilson says, "you can [really] bean somebody," when you throw a ball in the close quarters of the bocce court, so they introduced rules from dodgeball.

Borrowing ideas and adapting the rules became part of playing the game. With spring, bocce season started and the courts were in use on the weekends, but the bank drive-through wasn't, so it became a legitimate court and the rules changed again to accommodate it. As Wilson puts it, "It was never declared that it was going to have a collaborative rulemaking process, but that's what it was."

The rest of the issue, which focuses on games and toys, is pretty entertaining. Get your copy at the newsstand.

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Ha! Thanks for the pointer. Other than the rule that rules are changeable (which is an idea that goes back to the dadaists, at least, and was a key part of Steve Jackson's original Illuminati card game,, I think that the games are pretty different. Calvinball is more of a metagame that's a commentary on games (and kids and fairness, etc). If everything is changeable by default, then there is kind of no real game, just a game about creating rules. OSBall has actual rules and is an actual game, it's just that the rules open to change.

hey this sport is not new! don't you know calvinball?




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This page contains a single entry by Mike Kuniavsky published on December 5, 2006 2:13 PM.

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