Language as a mechanic in Games– Src:Card puzzled over, but not reviewed [Kickstarter incoming]


And now for something completely different, well, maybe not that different, but at least a little unusual.

I heard about SRC: CARD recently when someone (well, the designer) emailed me about it out of the blue.  SRC: CARD is an interesting idea for a tabletop game.  From the promo blurbs:

Src:Card is a standalone 2 player (2-4 with expansion) card game that challenges players to build their own super robot core while attacking their opponent by writing code.  Make your robot core as formidable as possible while creating code to attack and anticipate changes to your opponent’s robot brain. Src:Card incorporates real coding concepts that are challenging for experts and easy to learn for beginners. Anyone can learn the game in 15 minutes.

The robot fighting part?  Eh, that sounds like a tacked on theme to me.  I’ve played Robot Fighting games before, including the famous one.. you’ve heard of Robo-Rally, surely.  The interesting part?  The description of the key mechanic of this game.  You are programming in a language will launch attacks against an enemy computer core.  I don’t have a copy of this game in front of me and I’ll be honest– I’ve never played it.  It doesn’t really exist yet.  However, from the demo I saw on the Kickstarter Page, I was sufficiently intrigued to be interested.  You see, I like linguistic style games with a clearly defined ruleset and consistent, ironbound internal logic.   Somewhat like computer programming, come to think of it.   SRC:CARD is purporting to use a type of language as the means in which to play.  From what I’m seeing, the language is created by playing cards that represent either computer cores or programming statements.  The impetus is on the player to continue playing the statements to form conditional loops, if statements and variables to attack the enemy computer core before the either card “bootup” limit suddenly happens.  Honestly, I’m not sure how it would play– the vibe I’m getting is ERGO, from Catalyst Games, with maybe a little Robo-Rally thrown in.  That could be a good thing.  The only tabletop game that I know of that relies on a learned language to play would be Ergo, though there might be others.  In Ergo’s case, it’s the language of Logic Proofs, in the more abstract form.  Sadly this doesn’t seem to be a concept that attracts potential players– I’ve yet to play Ergo (which I own) with anyone but myself.

I think what might set SRC:CARD apart from earlier attempts at Linguistic Games like Ergo is the Win/Lose conditions of “killing the other robot”. With a simple goal like that, I think people might be willing to give the programming element a try. Let’s face it; either you like programming or you don’t– it’s not a pure sex and free beer kind of occupation. So anything that makes the subject less daunting and more valuable will have value.

In any event, give the KS Video a look and make up your own minds.

Kickstarter Link for SRC:CARD

Likely this will be a niche demand game, but I think there’s a lot of appeal there for the right geeky kind of person.

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