LINKS AND DOWNLOADS
CONTEXTanalog version: class project for board game design workshop | digital version: class project for video game design workshop
MEDIUMAnalog: Wood Digital: Unity
CREDITSHeather Penn : Game Designer
This board game is based on the short story Stone Animals by Kelly Link. In this story, the strange occurrences in the house are perhaps metaphors for a family that is breaking apart, but after further review I believe Stone Animals draws from something even more ingrained in the human mind, which is the phenomenology of a house. The most typical house is divided into three areas, the attic, the main floor, and the cellar. Philosopher Gaston Bachelard says that “for the cellar, we shall no doubt find uses for it. It will be rationalized and its uses enumerated. But it is first and foremost the dark entity of the house, the one that partakes of subterranean forces. When we dream there we are in harmony with the irrationality of the depths.”
For many of us the cellar represents the roots of the house, the connection to the earth, but also a mysterious and nightmarish place. In Stone Animals, the haunting of the house stems from the lack of a cellar, or rather, the roots of the house do not belong to the family, but a horde of rabbits, and the cosmic balance of the house is disturbed. Henry says the house doesn’t have a basement yet in a dream someone informs him “Like your house. Which is really just the tip of the iceberg lettuce, so to speak. You’ve probably got seventy, eighty stories underground.” Is this the fear of the unknown? A lack of connection? Or perhaps he knows that it is the truth because the rabbits keep coming to the surface – a testament to their underground maze and the shaky foundation on which his family sits.
The game runs in cycles of day and night. During the day, the humans move on the surface level and drop haunted objects through holes to the rabbits; at night, the rabbits move underground to build tunnels, collect the objects, and inflict haunting on other players. As player become more haunted and draw closer to insanity (and being out of the game), they become more powerful and receive more special abilities, so that the most powerful player is the one closest to losing. Each human is a character from Stone Animals and has his or her own unique abilities based on the character’s roles and actions in the story.
The board game was adapted into video game form with some changes (for example: the three layers of the board game are placed by two layers in the video game; the giant stone rabbits are also removed from the video game).