Wikipedian Tag

I’ve had the good fortune to be involved with playtesting and contributing to a new game this past month.  While it is played on a computer it is not actually a computer game.  My good friend and fellow game designer Jeremy P. Bushnell has created a new game called Wikipedian Tag.

“It involves using the vast, super-complicated structure of Wikipedia as a play space, an environment through which one player chases another. I like to think of it as a kind of competitive parkour through the architecture of all human knowledge, but calling it “tag” is a little simpler. It’s easy to learn and loads of fun.” – Jeremy

Here is the complete version 1.0 ruleset posted with permission.

WIKIPEDIAN TAG – Version 1.0

OBJECT

Same as regular tag: for one player (“It”) to catch another player.

SETUP

  • Find a free block of time. About an hour is good.
  • Find at least one other player. The game can be played either in the physical presence of the other player(s), or remotely (I’ve played it a number of times using Gchat).
  • Determine one player to be “It” (who I will also refer to as “the chaser”) and one player to be the one who is being chased by it (who I will also refer to as “the runner”)
  • Each player privately selects a page in Wikipedia—any page—to be their starting point. Once both players have made their selections, they reveal their starting points, and the game begins.
  • The chaser goes first.

GAMEPLAY

  • Players take turns.
  • On each turn, a player “moves” by following at least one link that leads from a Wikipedia page to another Wikipedia page.
  • The chaser is faster than the runner, so on each turn the chaser gets to move twice. For instance, if the chaser was on the page for Brooklyn, they could move to the page for Yiddish and then from there to Aramaic. This would constitute a complete turn for the chaser.
  • The runner has the advantage of unpredictable mobility, so s/he is only permitted one move per turn.
  • Each player reports their moves as they make them, so that both players know the location of the other player at all times. The runner may look at the page the chaser is on, and the reverse is also true.
  • If, at any time, the chaser is on the same page as the runner, the runner is “tagged” and the game ends. (In the above example, if the runner was on the “Aramaic” page, s/he would be tagged.)
  • Confused? Check out the sample games below.

A RESTRICTION ON THE RUNNER

  • The nimble runner has one restriction upon her or his mobility: s/he may only follow links that are one word. This means, for example, that s/he cannot follow links to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop or the List of fictional games or even Thomas Jefferson.
  • Note that some one-word links do direct to pages with multi-word titles; these are fair game for the runner. For instance, the runner could reach the Thomas Jefferson page legally if the link read simply “Jefferson.”
  • Acronyms such as IBM count as one word and thus are legal, as do hyphenated words.
  • Note that this restriction can occasionally lead the runner onto a page for which there is no legal escape: in this case the runner must use her or his next turn to “backtrack” to the page they s/he was on previously.

A RESTRICTION ON THE CHASER

  • The relentless chaser also has one restriction upon her or his mobility: s/he may not reduplicate any exact move made by the runner. S/he must find a creative route to where the runner is rather than simply locking in to an earlier point on the runner’s trail and catching up using the brute force of their superior speed.

RESTRICTIONS ON BOTH PLAYERS

  • Neither player may follow a link that will take them outside of Wikipedia. Be especially cautious about accidentally following links that might take you to a Wikipedia “sister project” such as Wiktionary or Wikiquote.
  • Neither player may use the links in the left sidebar, including but not limited to the “What links here” tool in the toolbox.
  • Players must move: neither player may pass a turn or a portion of their turn.
  • While it is legal for players to look at the page their opponent is on, it is considered bad form to look at other pages in Wikipedia during the course of the game, and it is illegal to “peek ahead” to see the content of a page you are thinking about visiting as part of a future move.
  • Despite the occasional strong temptation to do so, neither player may do any editing to Wikipedia during the course of the game.

SOME VARIATIONS

  • Variations for more than two players are simple: you may play a game where there is one runner being pursued by multiple chasers, or a game where one chaser is pursuing multiple runners. In either of these variants, the players who are “multiplied” in this fashion make their moves concurrently.
  • In the basic game, as in real Tag, the game continues until the chaser catches the runner, or until the runner forfeits out of exhaustion. More satisfying end-games can sometimes be generated by an agreement, before starting play, as to how many turns the game will last before the runner will be considered victorious. (I’d recommend 20 turns—20 moves for the runner and 40 for the chaser—although this can be adjusted for the time available or to reflect the relative skills of the players.)

TWO SAMPLE GAMES

GAME ONE
Chaser Runner
Starting point Anasazi Firefly (TV series)
Turn No. 1 »Cowboy Wash
»Molecular biology
»Courtesan
Turn No. 2 »Rockefeller Foundation
»Alfred Kinsey
»Witchcraft
Turn No. 3 »Homosexuality
»Lesbian
»Necromancy
Turn No. 4 »Willow Rosenberg
»Druid
»Chaucer
Turn No. 5 »London
»History of London
»Pseudepigraphy
Turn No. 6 »Protestantism
»Roman Catholic Church
»Tanakh
Turn No. 7 »Old Testament
»Tanakh
TAG
TAGGED
GAME TWO
Chaser Runner
Starting point Weather Probability density function
Turn No. 1 »Predictions
»Probability
»Kurtosis
Turn No. 2 »Probability theory
»List of probability topics
»Parameter
Turn No. 3 »Location parameter
»Statistics
»Dag Prawitz
Turn No. 4 »Mathematics
»Mathematical proof
»Philosopher
Turn No. 5 »Philosopher
TAG
TAGGED

Creative Commons License

Wikipedian Tag, by Jeremy P. Bushnell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Games

3 comments

  1. doches says:

    Pretty fun, indeed. I can’t help but think that, played single-player against a computer runner, it would make an interesting way to read through Wikipedia. Unfortunately your choice of CC license doesn’t allow me to explore that — but I imagine that might be because you intend to explore it yourself…

    Or rather, Jeremy P. Bushnell does. Regardless, very cool game.

  2. Dave "HybridMind" Evans says:

    @jjw: Yeah, it is really fun actually. I should play again sometime soon. You get to learn quite a bit of weird random facts along the way too since you are roaming through Wikipedia.

    @doches: I had done a little thinking about how this game (or a variant) may translate over to the computer realm and I definitely agree with you that a computer runner could be quite fun indeed. I hadn’t looked too closely at the CC license type Jeremy picked but you are right that it would pose certain impediments. You could always drop him an email if you’d like to discuss things with him?

Comments are closed.