Can Semi-Cooperative Games Work?

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Cooperative games are games where everyone is working together to achieve a certain goal, and everyone wins or loses together. Competitive games are the opposite, where players are working by themselves to win. Semi-cooperative games lie somewhere in between – it’s possible for all players to lose, but when the players win the game, one player wins more than the others. One problem with semi-cooperative games is that when someone knows they are going to lose, they can drag everyone else down so no one wins!

Tom Jolly, designer of Wiz-War, blogs about his thoughts on making semi-cooperative games work (with a liberal definition of semi-cooperative). His ideas include:

  • Making players unable to die, so they cannot purposely make everyone else lose
  • Use a normal game with some short of sharing mechanic built in
  • A player can leave the board mid-game and save his resources/score

In his blog, Tom Jolly discusses¬†different game designs he’s tried out for semi-cooperative games. In most of the tries, it seems like player greed won out, and “we can win” devolved into “I can win”. In conclusion, he decides that semi-cooperative games can work, but only in certain cases.

To learn more about Tom Jolly’s semi-cooperative game exploration, read his full blog here.