This page is presented to further the design & development of games as a means of exploration.
I am receptive to ideas from game designers, publishers, educators and explorers.

explore topology, construction, game play,
and other concepts.
of ecology, society, economy, and other real situations.
of peoples' thoughts, attitudes and interactions.

Index of Games
Chinese Bridges
Coral Polyps and the Budding Reef Band
Color Chess
Global Warning
Life of Dreams
Soar Plane Racing
Orgy of Moderation
Robin Hood & The Sheriff of Nottingham
The Mating Game
Your Life Set to Music
The Trouble With Physics
Chinese, Buddhists & Aliens
Game Out of Balance
The Fruits of Plumbing

"To be playful is not to be trivial or frivolous, or to act as though nothing of consequence will happen. On the contrary, when we are playful with each other we relate as free persons, and the relationship is open to surprise; everything that happens is of consequence."

— James Carse, in Finite and Infinite Games: a vision of life as play and possibility

Copyright Notice
All the games shown below are copyright © 2007-2009 by Lincoln Stoller, except where otherwise noted.

Chinese Bridges
Summary: A game of weighted probability, tri-inked strategies, and spatial perception.

Players construct and then vie for ownership of overlapping triangles in an effort to own a set of triangles that form a bridge from one side of the board to the other.

Each player chooses one of each triangles' three vertices by placing a peg in the board. Players use their "money" to "purchase" faces of the die and thereby weight their chances of winning ownership of the triangle. The die is thrown and whom ever owns the die's top face wins the triangle.

The winner encircles the triangle's three pegs with a rubber band of their color. When a set of overlapping triangles of one color spans the board, the player associated with that color wins.

Pieces: 1 wooden peg board, 1 wooden "barter" board, 6 money tokens, 1 die, 40 metal pegs, 3 sets of colored rubber bands.
Players: 2 or 3 people, all ages
Playing time: 20 to 40 minutes
Concept: The game appears unpredicable and can be played by young children as a surprising tug-of-war. In fact it's highly strategic. Its difficulty lies in preceiving opportunity and in figuring out who's winning.


Summary: The classic strategy game cast on a field where color saturation equals power, and the substance of one's strategy is recognized by the patterns that the pieces "paint" on the board.

In COLORCHESS the opposing sides are blue and red, and the tactical value of each piece is keyed to its saturation of color. Thus the pawns are the lightest tint and the kings and queens the most vivid.

Being of uniform size, with subtle differences in shape to aid recognition, color becomes the major distinguishing characteristic.

Set agaist the board's neutral grid, the colored pieces create changing patterns as the game progresses.

The open spaces and clusters of color become descriptive diagrams of the action.

Pieces: 1 wooden board, 32 wooden chess pieces.
Players: 2 people, 7+ years
Playing time: 20 to 40 minutes
Concept: Chess for the color-enhanced mind.

Copyright © 2006, Evan Stoller 


Life of Dreams
Summary: In this combination word game, Role Playing Game, and puzzle one writes one's own life story, striving to assemble it in the most positive manner.

Players choose their avatar and place it on one of the 4 "birth" spaces at the center of the board. In the "conscious" part of each round players move their avatars in steps from the inner rings outward, choosing one of the 3 paths available to them at any space. Once they've chosen a new space, players write down the sentence written on the space and mark the positive and negative attributes embedded in it.

In the "dream" part of each round players chose to enter either the intellectual or the emotional dream maze. They locate one of their negative character traits in the maze of their choice and then start the timer.

Each player has 30 seconds to move away from this negative trait, past sentence fragments and images, to reach some other trait. Whatever trait they reach is exchanged for the negative trait from which they started. Each player must then write a sentence describing this transformation using the sentence fragments they've encountered in their passage through the maze.

Players' lives end after 5 rounds. They're scored according to how successfully they've transformed negative into positive attributes. The winning player is the one who has most improved him or her self.

Pieces: A large round board composed of 6 concentric rings of spaces. Each space carries a one-sentence story characterized by one positive and one negative adjective that conveys a personal attribute. Each space is connected to 3 spaces in the next larger ring. 4 character trait score cards are each divided into 5 positive attributes and 5 negative attributes. 4 sets of 5 counters with which players track their character traits by placing them on their character trait score cards. 4 player tokens in the shapes of bhudda, skull, cat, and raven. A reference sheet that defines the 324 character attributes and locates each of these traits on the playing mazes. One playing maze for intellectual dreams, and one playing maze for emotional dreams. 8 slip-in word cards, each fitting into either of the two playing mazes. One 30-second timer.
Players: 2 to 4 people, ages 10+
Playing time: 30 to 60 minutes.

Concept: Text authors inflexably engage readers because readers' power to reinterpret the text is limited to nonexistent. How can we enable the reader to write their own story without abandoning or coercing them? Since readers generally do not know how to create a story how do we faciliate the creation of their journey? This game suggests an answer.


Robin Hood & The Sheriff of Nottingham
Summary: A simple, fast-playing shooting game in which one player's move overlaps the move of the next player, and in which no one can seem to get away from anyone else.

Players choose to join Robin Hood, the Sheriff of Nottingham, the Noblemen, or the Fairies. They position their actors symmetrically on the board and place the arrows on certain unoccupied spaces.

Players take turns moving two of their pieces one space each in a race to pick up fallen arrows, carry them to judicious locations, and fire them at their adversaries.

The arrows continue flying around the board while other players take their turns, trying to pick up fallen arrows while avoiding those in flight. When an actor is hit by an arrow they're sent to nirvana. The arrow that dispatched them falls to the ground to be picked up by whomever gets to it first.

The last player to remain on the board wins.

Pieces: 1 board with 10 differently colored closed paths. 4 different colored "actors". 12 "arrows" that either lie on the ground, are carried by the actors, or fly through the air.
Players: 2 to 4 people, ages 5+
Playing time: 10 to 20 minutes
Concept: the board is an unfolded dodecahedron so that, appearances aside, all locations are symmetric. The game play was inspired by "Maze Wars" which, in 1974, was the first computer networked, 3D, multi-user, first-person shooter game.


Summary: A complex capture strategy game in which the players' pieces move in groups, and the power of one's group is determined by the powers of individual pieces which vary by location.

Red and the green players arrange their pieces symmetrically in 4 of the star's 5 legs. Each space carries between 1 and 5 symbols. Pieces move in different manners according to their shape.

A piece's power is determined by whether the symbol that it carries matches any of the symbols printed on the space it occupies. A player's total power on a space is the sum of the powers of their pieces.

Players move their pieces in and between groups in an attempt to overpower and remove the opposing player's pieces. The surviving player wins.

Pieces: 1 star-shaped board composed of 40 triangular spaces and a pentagon. 2 sets of wooden pieces, one set red and the other set green. Each piece is one of 4 different shapes, triangle, diamond, circle or star, and each piece carries one of 9 different celestial symbols.
Players: 2 people, ages 10+
Playing time: 40 to 60 minutes
Concept: the board is a 2-dimensional projection of a 5-dimensional potential surface, forcing players to think in 5-dimesnions.


Summary: A simple, fast-playing shooting game in which players moves overlap, and in which no one can seem to get away from anyone else. Similar to "Robin Hood" above, but built on a different topology.

Players position their actors symmetrically around the corners of planet Ugluk, placing the arrows on pegs at certain unoccupied vertices of the colored paths.

Players take turns moving two of their pieces in a race to pick up fallen arrows, carry them to judicious locations, and fire them at their adversaries.

The arrows continue flying around the globe while other players take their turns, trying to pick up fallen arrows while avoiding those in flight.

When an actor is hit by an arrow they're sent to nirvana and the arrow falls to the ground to be picked up by whomever gets to it first.

On this surface the geodesics change direction in odd ways as they cross surface boundaries, so the problem is to figure out how the arrows will fly, and how to sneak up on other players without being noticed.

The last player to remain on the board wins.

Pieces: A 3-dimensional, perforated globe that's crisscrossed by a lattice of paths of 3 colors. 2 or 3 different colored "actors" affix themselves to holes in the board using pegs. 12 "arrows" that are either pegged to unoccupied holes, are carried by the actors, or are sent flying along the paths.
Players: 2 to 3 people, ages 5+
Playing time: 20 minutes

Concept: the board is a 6 sided, non-Platonic solid whose surface is covered by 3 mutually and multiply intersecting paths. This shape is mounted on a wooden pole and can be spun around its axis.

The game developed when my brother looked at "Robin Hood," shown above, and asked, "Why is it flat?"


Game Out of Balance
This strange strategy game begins without goals or rules. On each turn a type of movement, kind of interaction, or instruction for scoring is added from each players' hand of cards and the game proceeds according to these rules. The winner is the player who best manages their hand, using the emerging rules to accomplish the emerging goals.

Game Out of Balance

Players begin with an empty board, 10 red or 10 black chips, and a hand of 4 cards consisting of one Start, Movement, Interaction, and Score card that were dealt to them from shuffled decks of each of these types of cards.

The players play their Start card and place their pieces on the board according to its instruction. Players then take turns playing one card per turn. The card they play either adds a rule of movement, interaction, or score to the game, or can be used to override a rule of movement, interaction, or score that was played before.

After playing a card each player moves their pieces according to one of the Movement rules in play, and has their pieces interact with their opponent's pieces according to one of the Interaction rules in play.

After each turn the players replenish their hand by drawing a card from their choice of Movement, Interaction, or Score card decks.

After 8 rounds players calculate their score according to the Score cards they have put into play. The player with the highest score wins.

Pieces: A 10x10 square grid board divided into 5x5 and 3x3 quadrants. 10 black and 10 red chips. 8 Start, 12 Movement, 12 Intereaction, and 12 Score cards. One D6 die.
Players: 2 people, ages 12+
Playing time: 30 minutes

Concept: This game started as a test of James Carse's philosophical idea that life is an "infinite game" without intrinsic goals or rules*. Starting with a blank board and asking players to take turns creating rules and goals I discovered that such a game is practically impossible because without goals people cannot focus, and without rules they cannot discriminate. I continued adding structure until the game became engaging, and this is the result. From this experiment I conclude that life without goals or rules is not a game that humans can play.

* James P. Carse, "Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility" (Ballantine, 1987)

Dedicated to James P. Carse