Game Chef Talk: The Empty City

Here’s an interesting one from Steve Hickey: The Empty City. (

One PDF with a flowchart. No rulebook. Looks like you start in the very middle and follow the instructions as you proceed. Another Twitter game? Hey yeah it is, the first instruction you have to follow is that you tweet something and use the #theemptycity  hashtag. Neat!

Now, I’m not completely new to this kind of game so I can sorta suss out what he’s going for. I think maybe a tiny bit more guidance on what to do would be useful. Also: the flowchart is baffling as hell. Maybe numbers marking the order of play? Like, there are things that link into the flowchart from “outside” the flowchart that, I suppose, you need to do at some point. Order of operations is guessable but it could be clearer.

So it looks like the whole game is kind of an exploration of a weird nightmarish dreamscape. And it looks like you’re meant to follow the hashtag inside the Twitter and work with other players in real-time. There are places where you have to see if someone has used the hashtag inside a certain period of time, and then “ask the hashtag” to provide inputs. Also interesting.

Really neat! Really confusing to follow right now! But I could totally see this getting polished up and being a fun thing to get some Twitter friends in on. One thing that occurs to me: Twitter I think is mostly a smartphone thing, yes? Like, don’t you/we mostly engage with it on little devices? That makes me think the spreadsheet is a) a tough form factor and b) you could probably build a very simple app and/or linked web pages to “run” the game.

Click to access The%20Empty%20City%20(Game%20Chef%202015%20submission).pdf

0 thoughts on “Game Chef Talk: The Empty City”

  1. Thanks, Paul! I think useability testing is going to be vital for this one. And I was surprised at how hard it is to write precise rules, even when you only have a few of them and you’re keeping to a small word count.

    You may be on to something with the awkwardness of the one page .pdf form factor. I’ll give that a lot more thought…

    Great insights, though.

Leave a Reply