I’ve been following the Origins Game Fair 2016 preview and realizing just how often games just recycle the same themes. How many of the games we play involve space battles, farming in medieval Europe, high fantasy settings, or ancient ruins? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I love playing games that introduce an entirely new idea. The Gallerist may have been a difficult slog, but I’ve never played a game about managing an art gallery before! Games like Arboretum and Kodama: The Tree Spirits appeal to me because they’re entirely different in both theme and mechanics than anything else I’m familiar with. AndPandemic, a game about being disease control specialists, is one of my favorites (or it was until I burned out after 18 games ofPandemic Legacy).
So here’s my idea. Take the most boring job/setting/concept you can think of, and turn it into a game. Coin collecting (my numismatist father would be sad if he saw me writing that). Waste water treatment. Telemarketing. Watching paint dry.
One of my nightmare jobs would be telemarketing. So here’s my pitch. The game is called “Cold Calling: The Fascinating World of Telephone Marketing.” You have a quota of marketing calls you have to make each day. But standing in your way are lots of different kinds of difficult people: people who lead you on for the sole purpose of wasting your time. People who argue and curse at you, lowering your morale. People who hang up quickly might actually benefit you, since you’d be able to get more calls in that day. Actually selling them a thing is just a bonus – your main goal is to meet and exceed your quota. If you fail to meet your quota three times in a row, you lose. Who can be the most successful telemarketer and get themselves promoted to Senior Cold Caller?
Now it’s your turn! Pick a boring theme you’ve never played or even seen a game about, and invent a game! Doesn’t need to be a good game, or even something you actually would want to play.