The 2015 Global Game Jam – an annual event where game designers are presented with theme, and challenged to create a game around that theme in 48 hours. The game can be a video game or a table top game, and there are awards for different categories.
This year, the theme was, “What Do We Do Now?” 28,837 people registered to participate in GGJ, for 518 different jam sites in 78 countries. An impressive 5438 games were produced.
The Mountain won Best Board Game, Jury’s Prize and took 2nd Place – People’s Choice Award, with credit going to: David Chircop – Design, Story, Graphic Design. Yannick Massa – Design, Johnathan Harrington – Story, Design. Matthew Agius Muscat – Story. Fran Bte – Story. Daniela (iella) Attard – Art, Illustration.
BGG game description: “The Mountain is a board game experience for one player. It explores a pensive man’s descent from a mountain from the moment he reaches the peak. You navigate the mountain while exploring the man’s thoughts as he contemplates about the unknown abyss that lies exactly after his life’s biggest accomplishment.
There are five exit points on the board, one for every element that will affect your journey – frost, sun, wind, sky and horizon. As you try and find the path down, you learn more about yourself through the story cards, divided into five different story lines that affect you as a protagonist.
However, the path down is not immediately obvious. Your movement subdues and stimulates the elements. If three or four elements are acting, you start suffering from ennui; a feeling that perhaps getting to the bottom of the mountain is not that important after all. If all five elements are raging, you will succumb to nature and die.
Traverse through the safest path and take care of yourself. This could be either the most important journey of your life, or your last.”
The Mountain certainly adheres to the Global Game Jam theme of, “What do we do now?” Playing as a character who has just peaked in more than one way, he is now dealing with self-doubt and the lack of a goal in his life. As he treks down the mountain, he is fighting his own depression as well as the elements, and his life is in danger. This is a theme many writers could sink their literary teeth into, and I have been fascinated with this premise for years.
The game has an interesting mechanic for movement, using 5 controller cards to determine which spaces can be moved onto in a given turn. This presents an interesting puzzle, as you must plan ahead to insure you can move on following turns. If you can not or chose not to move, you must still draw an Ennui card (pronounced än-ˈwē), representing a lack of spirit, enthusiasm or interest. If you draw too many Ennui cards, the character gives up trying to descend the mountain and dies. In game terms, that means you lose.
If you can reach one of the 5 exit points around the map, and you have acquired at least 1 each of the 5 different element cards, you can end the game, leaving the mountain. At this point, if you have more of the element card that matching the space you exit, you can draw the first ending card from that deck. Otherwise you draw the second, less favorable ending card.
It’s an interesting exercise, and I played three times, which is far from exhaustive. It did give me a feel for the game, and put my mind to a depressed story theme, but sometimes that is useful.
Note that this game is not available for sale, but the designers have been kind enough to provide a free print and play version, downloadable here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4B7PH3fGut_dkgyZE82dm1zUU0/view
Be aware that the file has a 4-page game board and 9 pages of cards. The files are in full color, no B&W option currently available.
There is also a Printerstudio version of the game that can be ordered. More details in this BGG post: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1319190/printerstudio-decks