Tongue Hunter: Pervasive Game Design

Tongue Hunter

By Maurits, JacO & Nita

When our group was thinking of gaming away from a television or computer screen and attempting to make reality as a game, there was one thing we were all sure of, using human behaviors as the core game mechanism. We are studying and living in an international and diverse environment where numerous languages are spoken and communication in and outside of class is a necessity. After discussing in class about the importance of social capital, social networks and group dynamics within games, we agreed upon the game concept involving as much social interaction with as many different people as possible. Not only did we want the players in our game to talk to as many different people as possible, we also wanted them to learn as they played and to use their previously acquired knowledge from the game to make the following steps to progress and achieve as many points as possible.

“Given the deep reliance on social networks to progress, sustained bad player behavior, while it does occur, carries significant costs and is typically weeded out.” (Taylor, pg.36) In the case of our game, we chose our players based on our knowledge of them. We knew that choosing a player with bad or poor behavior would more likely fail in the game because they would possibly not know many AUC people, be impolite whilst asking, and be lazy or cheat whilst playing the game. “This reliance on social networks, or communities, is an intentional aspect of the game design.” (Taylor, ph.38) Here the reliance of social networks for the players is based on the idea that if players have strong social networks, then it would make them better players at the game. They would be better players because they would know more people and be able to pin point which person to approach next with the appropriate language (use less time randomly approaching players). This social network concept is strongly connected to the reputation of the player who is playing the game.

“Reputation plays a significant role in a gamer’s success because at a basic level reputation determines both being able to secure groups over the long term, as well as being admitted into a guild.” (Taylor, pg.43) A larger and more positive reputation along with strong social networks among AUC students in this game can only lead to better results for the player. Players with better reputations and social networks are also more likely to be more social and find it easier to approach people in the game to collect new languages. Mayra (2008) stresses the importance between real-world social life and that of virtual worlds (p.150). These social network connections of our players may have already existed through mediums such as Facebook, however this game forces them to break out of that bubble and make use of the knowledge they have on people’s background, and perhaps pin-point the people that they usually don’t talk to, but have ‘befriended’ on Facebook.

We chose both player #1 and #2 based on our knowledge of them, so that we could achieve optimal results for our game documentation. We wanted these players to be social, have good behavior and know a decent amount of people in AUC. However, with players both in and outside the virtual world there is always something can change whilst playing the game. “Though not condoning cheating per se, he argues that players will always be looking for optimal paths and that when a player cheats in a game, they are choosing a battle field that is broader in context than the game itself.” (Taylor, pg.51) This was able to be seen at multiple moments with our two different players. There is of course the possibility that the rules were not understood completely, but every player is willing to accept a shortcut to success or better results. The concept of cheating can be quite undefined for many players and many could possibly just consider it as a mistake or mishap.

The last thing which was considered whilst creating Tongue Hunter was the idea that we wanted the people who would be interacted with to have to do as little as possible. We wanted the interactions between the player and person to be minimal so that the player could collect as many languages as possible. Asking certain people for a few minutes of their time might lead to rejections to participating in the game. Players approaching people with a simple “How are you?” and 1 or 2 follow up questions requires very little energy from both sides. This was looked by the caster and buffing system explained by Taylor. “It is very unusual for such a request to be turned down as it was typically seen as costing the caster very little.” (Taylor, pg.58)

To conclude,

Extra – It was interesting to see how the players wrote down “How are you” in the different languages they encountered.

Player #1                                          Player #2

How are you                                    How are you

Vie git                                                 Como estas

Ki fuk                                                  Come stai

Go gate                                               Vi get

Vie gatet                                            Como se va

Abaikabar                                         Hoe gaat het

Comes stai                                        Com bai




References Used

Mäyrä, F. (2008). An Introduction to Game Studies: Games in Culture. London: SAGE Publications. Chapter 7.


Taylor, T.L. (2006). Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture. Cambridge: MIT Press, pp. 21- 66. Chapter 2.