Today’s game idea was a suggestion from my girlfriend, Terezie, who not only puts up playing many of my unfinished prototypes, but is also a very talented photographer! The core of the idea is that you and the other players are artistic photographers, trying to capture the most original and beautiful photographs, and then use your skills to develop these negatives in your private darkrooms. Finally you hope to show these off to the world and gain fame and fortune!

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Day 21: Photographs

Each player starts the game with a board in front of them, representing their darkroom. The board is divided into several spaces, onto which tiles representing different bits of equipment that the players can improve their ability to produce fine photographs. There is also a central gameboard representing the city into which you will travel and try and find the best subjects.

The game is divided into several days, and each day you can choose how you will spend blocks of hours (say you get 4 actions each day, so about 4 hours per action). Sample actions are going into the city to take photographs, spending time in your darkroom to develop negatives or to improve the equipment you have there, spending time doing paid work such as wedding photography to simply gain some quick cash.

The way that subjects work is that certain events or people will be drawn from a deck of cards, and placed in a certain part of the city. Each card has a certain type which defines that subject – such as ‘celebration’, ‘cultural’, or ‘quirky’. Each neighbourhood of the city also has a character, as does the time of day (morning, midday, evening and night). When you take a photograph, you are then gaining a specific combination of subject, neighbourhood and time. Some of these combinations are more valuable than others, as determined by some ‘artistic taste’ cards drawn at the start of the game. Each subject card shifts to a new location with each day, therefore the specific combination is only ever available once at that particular point of the game. In this way, players have to carefully choose their time to go and take photographs, and can plan what might be possible in future rounds.

Another feature of the game is the developing mechanism. Once you’ve taken some photos (represented by placing a token on the subject card in the specific neighbourhood where it was taken, with a time marker placed on it as well), you need to come back to your darkroom and actually develop the photo. There is always a risk that you will ruin a negative while trying to develop it, although you can offset this risk by investing in better equipment. When developing a photo, you roll a dice to determine its sucesss, with a 1 being a failure, and a 6 being a especially beautiful result, which is worth more (equipment can let you reroll the dice or alter the score). You can also try a riskier process in the hope of making a particularly unique print, rolling more dice, but this way you also have a greater chance of failure.

Finally, players will be judged at the end of the game by the relative quality of their photographs – how well they match the artistic taste cards, but also how well they fit together into 3 different exhibitions, with photographs in the same exhibition sharing one or more characteristics scoring bonus points.

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This was a particularly ‘Euro’ interpretation of this theme, but perhaps a more ‘take that’ style game could work too – perhaps the players are paparazzo photographers who are trying to get in each others way to be the first to track down celebrities and get the shot that everyone will want to buy. Or maybe the game could even be educational / legacy-esque by including a undeveloped negative and a simple pinhole camera, suggesting to players to take their own photograph to keep with the game forever. What would you do with this theme?