Last week was busy for those attending both the SSP Board meeting and IN conference. The Board considered broad industry topics, one of those being, “How do we work with a new cast of characters, including competitors and collaborators, in the scholarly information space?” Immediately thereafter, we swiveled to grapple with interactive learning, serious gaming, and product innovation at IN.
Enter The Scholarly Tycoon, loosely modeled on the AppleIIe game Lemonade Stand and the more recent Lemonade Tycoon (with a little Magic: the Gathering thrown in for good measure), which takes a lighter-side look at using gaming models to get comfortable with new players, business relationships, and outcomes in a postapocalyptic digital information landscape.
You lead a team of specialists navigating uncharted territory. There are unparalleled opportunities for success, but the terrain is riddled with traps and karmic zingers. It takes courage, discernment, agility, and persistence to reach digital Valhalla.
Progression of Play:
Each player or team blindly selects eight virtual asset “cards” consisting of four character cards and four tool cards. A description of character, tool, and other cards in the deck follows.
Players choose paths to follow as they explore an ever-evolving landscape. They achieve success by reaching new levels of play, maximizing and winning encounters with other characters and external forces, and accruing new tools along the way. Chutes and Ladders style, they experience near-disastrous setbacks and discover shortcuts that speed them to next levels. If alert, they may uncover disguised assets to add to their decks along the way.
Players build or lose points by challenging or partnering with other characters and external forces in the field of play. Wins and losses depend on the assets that are held in the player’s hand, which can be spent to overcome the challenges of each encounter. Players receive bonus points for each new encounter, even when the outcome is not positive. Players draw new cards after each engagement.
The deck is also interspersed with unexpected karmic zingers (discussed below), which may have positive or negative results.
Characters, Tools, and External Forces in the Deck:
Karmic Zingers and Point/Category Impacts: (examples)
- Accept a bogus research article: -4 Reputation
- Develop a sub-disciplinary taxonomy: +4 Breakthrough
- Competitor beats you to market: -3 Energy
- Offshore select editorial production work: +3 Energy
- Your sister marries Mark Zuckerberg: Lose all reputation points but win the game
- Your favorite technology vendor is acquired by a commercial competitor: -5 Energy
- Develop an app-based mechanism for ILL: + 5 Breakthrough
- Present at TED: +6 Reputation
- Find an error in your semantic search algorithm: -3 Breakthrough
The game exists within a time- and resource-delimited framework in which players can collect and play asset cards and score points based on engagement outcomes and karmic surprises. When playing time expires, the system generates a cumulative mission impact score, which is algorithmically generated on the basis of:
- Levels attained
- Number of meetings/collaborations
- Points in four categories: Revenue, Energy, Reputation, and Breakthroughs
If you’d like to play this game, stop reading now and get back to work.