The old tabletop games that are the heart of modern gaming played out as epic tales of legends and adventures. Game developer Simon Fox wants players to turn these stories into books, through the collective story telling game, The Written World.

“The idea that a game is something people do alone with a computer is very modern. We’re at a place now where our games can take advantage of the things that computers offer them, and still be utterly social story creating experiences,” Fox said via e-mail.

The Written World is a Web-based game played by two or more people: a Narrator and a Hero. The Narrator controls the story and plot, charting the journey for the Hero. The Hero, meanwhile, creates a character they believe can see the journey through.

“The Written World is a massively multiplayer game—it’s designed to allow a whole community of people to work together on building a world by creating and playing through stories together,” he said.

The massive-multiplayer part comes into play as there will be a large community built around the stories, and players can get feedback, explore each other’s stories, and each story adds to a larger world of fiction.

The team is currently funding the project though Kickstarter, and are trying to get coders, testers, artists, and enough money to pay for a good Web host.

“I think that telling stories is a very natural fit for play,” he said. “When we play together as children we build stories in a free, easy and flowing way—it’s a very co-operative and open sort of play that we’re hoping to mirror with The Written World.”

To make things interesting, the game features cards that affect the story. At the start, the Narrator will lay out cards to map the Mythos—which can be based around the Hero’s Journey (the call, the road, the summit, the return, the end) but with additional things along the way, like encounters.

There is also a “Force” award system that allows players to change the path of the story. Force points are earned by writing well, progressing through stories, and creating great characters and places.

Yet even with all these systems in place, according to Fox, “We have our rewards structures and our game mechanics but at the heart of our game is a a sort of improvisational bit of creativity—it’s an experience I’m excited to offer people.”

Being online takes the game a step deeper, as according to Fox, it means “we can reach a huge audience of people, and give their work visibility and value. We want really successful writers in our game to be building a real audience for their work.”

The idea for the game came from a writing group he used to run, where people created worlds for each other. He said he made several such games, but “Ultimately I wanted to make something that would empower people to put worlds together, and give those worlds some permanence—make them something shared and alive.”

[box_light]Images courtesy of Simon Fox[/box_light]

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