Sometimes at Filament Games we’ll have clients who want us to create a game on a subject we’ve already tackled before. It’s challenging because we don’t want to make the same game twice, so the themes and mechanics should be different. Making multiple games with the same objective is like getting to time travel and go in a completely different direction, answering all those what-ifs that were going through your head the first time around. This is the case with Do I Have a Right and That’s Your Right (the former was made before my time; the latter was designed by yours truly.)
Play Do I Have a Right
Play That’s Your Right
Both these games teach the ten amendments of the Bill of Rights, with DIHAR also teaching some extra amendments. That’s a tough learning objective because all the amendments are different from each other, and there are no obvious systems or mechanics associated with them -- they’re just facts to learn. I’m going to break down some of the differences in the games to show how they each ended up teaching the same thing in their own unique way.
These genres appeal to different kinds of players. DIHAR is a game of juggling client needs and beating the clock, while TYR is about strategy and maximizing your token efficiency. Both games are excellent vehicles for the same learning objective.
DIHAR dives deeper into the amendments than TYR. There are multiple scenarios for each amendment that are fleshed out and come across as conversational. It also has the player analyze the scenario text and identify parts of it that are important in determining the corresponding right. The player can also read up on the amendments their lawyers have in a reference panel. Players will get a very thorough understanding of the amendments, but it comes at the cost of there being more reading to do.
TYR’s approach is shallower, with players not doing as much reading. However, this can make the content easier to digest. Each round only has five amendments at a time that have short, easy-to-read definitions. There are multiple descriptions on cards that go along with each amendment, but they are very short and feel more disconnected from real people. This game feeds the player bite-sized bits of learning and is successful as long as players are able to think about the content themselves in order to determine the correct amendment match.
In both games we found that players are equally encouraged to remember what each amendment stands for and make correct connections as much as possible. DIHAR players can’t win at all if they just pair clients up with lawyers willy nilly, and TYR players will get creamed by their opponent / AI if they don’t power up their cards or attack opponent cards.
Each game has its own special way of dazzling the player and keeping them invested in the gameplay. In DIHAR, players get to purchase new pieces of furniture for their office that make clients wait longer and add upgrades to the lawyers. There’s also a newspaper that’s generated after every round that has a little article about how their business is doing. The player hires more lawyers and has to deal with more amendments at a time, so it becomes vital that they learn what certain amendments are by heart so they can quickly funnel clients to the correct lawyer.
TYR awards players who do well by feeding them more powerful cards over time. The game looks at each player’s progression and the number of cards they’ve correctly powered up to determine the power of cards they draw. It rewards them with special ability cards whenever they make a correct amendment match. The game gets more intense and the stakes get higher.
Both games require that players make an effort to remember what the amendments are in order to have the best experience, but their motivations for doing so are very different. Knowing the amendments becomes a vehicle for the player to do better in both cases.
Which One Did It Best?
And the winner is . . . neither. Or both. It depends! The great thing about having different games / mechanics for the same learning objective is that more players are able to enjoy the learning the content. Some people aren’t into the gameplay DIHAR has and would rather be competing in a card game, while others may be bored with TYR’s battle system and are way more entertained by running around a little law office. Some players need to play both games because they gain a different perspective on the amendments in each one. Games can’t please everyone; they’re just a tool. The more tools and types of media we can provide for learners to take in the same content, the more likely they are to retain and understand it.