Singularity Account

 

Singularity prototyping occurred first playing Machi Koro, a management and resource development board-game. Inspiration followed after a player ran into debt, and Machi Koro ruling didn’t required that player to divest their establishments to pay their dues. Thus development of Singularity began with the idea of investing and divesting infrastructure, and the ability of capital accumulation through a growing interest in economic systems. Monetary systems aren’t ‘fun,’ however with the growing interest of private enterprise (such as SpaceX) in space led to the integration of space and economic theory to develop on this prototype and build an engaging and educating game that works on the framework of market systems. This theory provides a framework of themes for the game.

Development of the game began by researching space theory and science fiction such as the Kardashev Scale, and to what technology each civilisation Type would hypothetically utilise such as a Dyson Sphere (one of the required cards to win). Stemming from this research into science the idea of a Technological Singularity and Transhumanism allowed for further development of themes and card concepts. Drawing upon the mechanics of Machi Koro, Singularity employs a capitalism economic theme, but providing the capacity of player debt and the ability to divest infrastructure to sustain your civilisation – something Machi Koro lacked.

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Basic Framework for the Game

CONFLICT CARDCONFLICT CARD (1)

Example Cards

Furthermore employing ‘market regulations’ through conflict cards (Card example: Military conflict results in a slow down of labor production, all infrastructure earns 50 per cent less for two rounds). This was applied following play of Machi Koro and witnessing one player to dominate other players once a certain level of resources was reached. 

Play testing for Singularity occurred with players who had previously played Machi Koro using white paper and hand-writing the descriptions and went for 60 – 90 minutes. While none of the players had knowledge on the space theory, however had a grasp on how the economic system worked due to daily interaction with capitalism. As with any game each player had differing interactions and strategies, with some investing in infrastructure to develop fast cash whereas others investing in the cards that had the lowest cost. As the game progressed confusion of the theory and themes subsided.

The same issue of ‘wealth inequality’ in Machi Koro arose in Singularity, with one player outpacing opponent development and generally one player having to continuously pay debt. While part of the economic theme and a sound demonstration on how capitalism works, for sake of player enjoyment further research and testing is required. Overall Singularity had some structure, however complexity and the development of an unfair resource development resulted in a series of issues. The aesthetic qualities of space visuals has strong capacity for design and marketing if the project continues development. Consequently more time could have been applied to incorporating additional play testing and recording such tests to refer back to when developing the game further.  

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Singularity – Board Game Pitch

Singularity is an intergalactic resource and domination project, in which the player takes upon themselves to save a climate ravaged civilisation through rapid intergalactic capitalism. Each player takes the role as commander-in-chief of a civilisation, and through calculated investments must achieve a Technological Singularity (Type 4) to win.

Singularity is based upon the framework of the Kardashev Scale. The scale measures the technological capability of a civilisation through its ability to harness energy:

Type I: Planetary Civilisation; store and utilise all energy that reaches the planet.
Type II: Civilisation can harness the energy of its neighboring star.
Type III: Civilisation can harness energy of host galaxy
Type 4: Civilisation can harness energy of whole universe.

Players start as a Type I civilisation, and exploitation of planetary resources has produced extinction level climate change. Thus in order to ensure the survival of your civilisation players must become an intergalactic civilisation and progress to Type 4. Civilisations start with renewable and mining investments (wind, solar, nuclear and mining infrastructure cards) that provide players with three tokens each round. Through accumulation of tokens players purchase cards that increase the return on investment (ROI), allowing for progress up the Kardashev Scale. However players cannot immediately progress to Type 4, rather achieving each ‘level’ before advancing.

Each round players take turns in rolling one or two dice dependent on their investments. Players may purchase a card that allows for two dice. As players progress civilisation types, new cards become available increasing ROI but at a higher purchase cost. ROI is achieved if the player or opposition roll the criteria noted on the card, for example ‘If opposition player rolls 4, collect 3 tokens as remuneration for your nuclear power plant.’ Once civilisations have progress beyond Type I, new cards ROI are noted as ‘roll 10 and your ability to harness energy from Black Hole’s produces 25 tokens.’ 

In order to increase civilisation types certain cards must be purchased:

Type II: Dyson Sphere 

Type III: Technological Revolution (Allowing for the cost of Dyson Spheres to decrease).

  • To purchase players must have cards AI Slavery and Dyson Sphere Manufacturing Plant.

Type 4: Technological Singularity (Once purchased game is won).

  • To purchase players must have cards Germinal Choice Technology, Terraforming Infrastructure and Intelligence Explosion.

The inclusion of confrontation allows for deceleration of rapid expansion by a prospect player, to allowing greater competition. This includes cards that harm ROI (military conflict) and skip turns (AI enslavement, market regulation).

Marketing + Distribution

Singularity’s target audience (TA) demographics are ages of 16 – upwards targeting individuals geographically located in Western societies due to capitalist experience and ideology. TA psychographics include individuals who have interests in trade markets, space travel and theory, and economic systems such as capitalism. Behavioural variables include consumption of similar products such as Monopoly, Risk and Machi Koro (Percy, L. Rosenbaum-Elliot, R. 2012). 

Distribution of Singularity through digital channels such as Amazon and Kogan, with the absence of in-store distribution removes intermediaries reducing operational costs. Application of box design below 0.64kg will cost 2.99 USD through Amazon’s distribution channels, with a 0.64 USD rate for monthly storage. Consideration of absent brand awareness for Singularity must be taken into account, thus free distribution via print of a beta product with reduced aesthetics will be available for personal consumption. 

The application of the free beta drives the TA into action through trial intention. According to Lammers product sampling illustrates ‘shaping’ associated with learning theory. Through reinforcement of behaviours that are similar to the desired behaviour we can tailor product sampling to the desired response effectively. Thus delivering the beta product free for print we can help the consumer form assumptions about their behaviour that may deliver a purchase intention when the opportunity arises. For example, targeting families that desire an immediate emotional interaction through board games we can reinforce assumptions with the Singularity brand. 

Non-Hyperlinked References: 

Percy, L. Rosenbaum – Elliot (2012) Strategic Advertising Management, Oxford University Press, viewed 10.04.17

An Analysis of Machi Koro

Machi Koro is a management and resource development board-game distributed by Grounding Inc. (Japan) and IDW Games/Pandasaurus Games (US), and designed by Masao Suganuma. Machi Koro produces a tangible understanding of Capitalism by placing the emphasis on economic expansion through investment in infrastructure and enterprise.

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Machi Koro applies simple mechanics requiring 2-4 players, has an arranged collection and relies on dice for progress. Each player begins with two investments with the aim to develop four specific infrastructures to win. How each player reaches said establishments depends on the various strategies the coloured cards offer. Each coloured cards (24 starting cards and 84 supply cards) have differing components: 

  • BlueRepresents agricultural resources allowing all players to earn income when someone rolls the matching number.
  • GreenManufacturing and distribution outlets that produce income when the individual rolls the matching number.
  • RedHospitality and retail investments that earn income when an opponent rolls the matching number.
  • PurplePurple cards represent substantial establishments that allow the individual to take money or investments from any opponent when the player rolls the matching number.

Card design is attractive and simple with the noted asset illustrated in a colourful cartoon, and cost represented by number and coin with return on investment clearly written below the cartoon. The simplicity of Machi Koro doesn’t stop at the cards, with the box weight at 0.64 kg and dimensions of 23.18 width and length x 6.99 height. Additionally the depth of the box allows for future expansions depending on product success.

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Gameplay is smooth with each player having a ‘vested interest’ in each roll, with the opportunity for income or expenditure. However issues arise when a card is rolled that requires remuneration from an opponent that fails to have appropriate funds. Rather than acquisition of opponent assets the turn is ultimately skipped. This becomes problematic as the investment fails to pay its dues and the player cannot forcibly acquire compensation.

According to Google Machi Koro pricing is between 40.00 AUD – 55.00 AUD. The cost of Machi Koro is the result of box size, with smaller packaging allowing for cheaper distribution. Due to differing distribution channels, product pricing will depend on the outlet that the consumer purchases from. Distribution costs for January – September through Amazon Fulfilment for a 0.64kg package is 2.99 USD. Monthly storage for Amazon costs 0.64 USD per cubic foot. However for the October – December period distribution costs are reduced by 0.22 and storage costs increase by 1.71. Thus allowing the relatively cheap price of Machi Koro. 

Dependant on company policy, Machi Koro can be distributed from Amazon’s centres through purchase from another channel (i.e. another company or website) through Amazon’s Multi-Channel Fulfilment, however costs are roughly .10 cents higher. According to the Reserve Bank of Australia pricing for Machi Koro and other retail products is largely dependant on five types of costs incurred in order to distribute to the market; company channel costs (includes freight and tariffs), expenditure of business activities, net margin, retailers expenditure of business and the retailers net margin. Due to Australia’s geographic position this increases freight costs.

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Due to the internet distribution of tabletop games has changed, with the nexus community designing an online simulator for Machi Koro. This is a reflection of the rising ‘print and playand online board game market.

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The success of Machi Koro can be attributed to its relevance to resource based games such as Monopoly, and similarities in design to The Sims and Farmville. Marketed as the opportunity for an individual to take upon the role of the city mayor, Machi Koro allows the individual to experience the planning and strategy of investment without tangible risk. Furthermore it provides a recreational construct relevant to the political and economical system that western individual’s experience.