Okay, so I left that teaser post here over a month ago, and haven’t followed up. Truth is, I’m currently working from home, so actually experimenting with office supplies and getting people to test out a game idea in such an environment is basically impossible.
So I thought, if I’m going to let the idea die, why not let it go out with a plea for help on ye old intertubes? (That is to say, I thought I’d post what I had thought of thus far here, and let anyone who stumbles across it contribute ideas or test things out.)
Idea #1: Spreadsheet Wargame
So my thought here was, board games involve pieces of paper or cardboard with funny squares on them that we move little objects around on, and spreadsheets are papers with funny squares on them. Two plus two equals seven and BAM there’s got to be something funny there!
I had gotten so far as to envision playing a sort of mini-wargame waged over a spreadsheet-defined terrain, using whatever spreadsheets your company happens to make use of, of course, not a custom-designed one. Numbers on the page were to be treated like height maps, with large numbers being tall hills and negative numbers being deadly valleys.
Pros: translates the office data into something entirely different, but meaningful within the newly imagined game context. Plus, you can each use a paper clip as a ‘combatant’ token and go “POW I SHOT YOU” on your lunch break! (Or “ZAP I ZAPPED YOU” if going with, say, a Tron-like sci-fi theme where you are playing the part of digital avatars battling over the rugged data terrain!)
Cons: no one really wants to calculate real line of sight across varying hills and stuff, which probably means drastically simplifying the rules for handling terrain, which means that the spreadsheet itself starts to become less important.
Variation: Maybe the numbers on the page could be some sort of resources that you have to collect, as well as obstacles that affect movement? In this case, maybe the “combat” would amount to stunning or knocking back your opponent, instead of the violent theme. (Or you could keep the “POW I SHOT YOU”, if that makes you and your office mates laugh.)
Comment, please! Even if you just read this and think, “Hey, that sounds like fun”, that would be incentive for me to actually write up proper rules, which I could post up here and let people experiment with.