The 2011 Game Design Challenge: “Games as Religion”.
And Jason Rohrer said:
Let There Be Chain World.
And Lo! There was Chain World — !
Rohrer turned out to be the only one of the three competitors who really addressed the theme [of religion] head-on.
How do you make a videogame that, in some sense, is a religion, especially if you’re an atheist? Rohrer began by defining the sort of spiritual practice that interested him, which had to do with the physical mysteries of everyday human experience. Rohrer spoke about his late grandfather, a colorful man who served as mayor of a small town in Ohio and left behind a legacy that soon turned into legends — the house he had built and the interstate whose path he had altered, forcing it to swerve around his town. (“It’s like my grandfather’s dogleg,” Rohrer said, putting up a slide of a bend in I-77.) In Rohrer’s family, these physical places had been turned into shrines of a sort. “We become like gods to those who come after us,” Rohrer told the crowd.
He wanted his game to encourage players to contemplate the monuments of those gods, which meant that he needed an environment where you could build things for future players to stumble across and ponder. He put up a slide of Minecraft, which is like an adventure game crossed with an inexhaustible virtual Lego set …. Chain World, Rohrer explained, was a mod, a customized version of Minecraft and a set of scripts that govern how it’s played. And here was the cool part: It all lived on a single USB memory stick.
Rohrer then dug the hand-painted stick out of his jeans pocket. “This is the only one in the world!” he said. “And here are the rules, the canon law of Chain World.” He outlined his commandments. Erect no signs — your creations must speak for themselves. Play until you die exactly once –no do-overs or restarts. (Zombies and spiders occasionally blink into existence to harry players as they build and explore.) Never talk about what you saw or did. Then pass the memory stick on to “someone who expresses interest.” Rohrer said that he had been player one, the first to leave a mark on Chain World …. “So, someone in the audience is going to get to be player … two,” Rohrer said, holding the stick out …
– Chain World Videogame Was Supposed to be a Religion — not a Holy War by Jason Fagone @ Wired magazine