Jason Rohrer wins GDC “Bigger Than Jesus” competition with “Chain World”

I don’t know how much you guys follow the gaming conference circuit. Despite the fact that I write for a gaming blog, its pretty rare that I’m shocked by anything coming out of the various conferences throughout the year. Most of the larger developers like to save their major announcements for a day that they will be the only developer making noise. Still, the annual development competition at GDC caught my eye this year, mostly because it involves Minecraft.

Every year at GDC, a pool of developers is asked to design a game for a specific challenge. This year’s theme was “Bigger Than Jesus,” tasking designers with creating a religion/religious experience within a game. The winner, Jason Rohrer, came up with something truly awesome. His game is called Chain World and it’s designed to mimic the way we experience powerful people and ideas that we have no carnal attachment to.

As an example, Rohrer cited his own family, which had built up a sort of mythos around Jason’s grandfather. Though Jason didn’t really know him, he still retold his grandfather’s stories, traveled to places his grandfather had lived and so on, all because of his devotion to this idea of a person. Chain World recreates that devotion by giving the player a world populated with structures and places without a real explanation of where their origins.

The twist is that only one person is playing Chain World anywhere in the world at a time. Chain World is a Minecraft world on a thumb drive. When you die, you take the thumb drive and give it to someone new, who then goes and plays the game until he dies, and so on. It’s an interesting concept, one I can hardly give due justice. The video above is long, but it’s worth a watch. I’d stop after Rohrer’s presentation. The other contestant’s weren’t nearly as good.

If someone walks up to you some day in the near future and hands you a USB drive, you better take it, and when you die, ship that bad boy my direction.


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