🧪 Using ChatGPT in the innovation process
Creating a new board game with a large-language model
I’m continuing my experiments with ChatGPT. In particular, trying to figure out how it can synthesise ideas from different domains and help in the creative process.
I play board games with my kids; among them are Jaipur, Azul, Pandemic, Innovation, Forbidden Island, and others. We were on the hunt for a new one (half-term is coming) and I was struggling to filter via BoardGameGeek. Heading over to ChatGPT I figured I would see where a discussion would take me.
You will find our exploration below. This is a rare example of an essay that is largely written by a chatbot. But what I wanted to do was actually share the dialogue between me and the software, so you can see the chain of prompts to which it responded. I’ll insert my additional comments in grey code blocks.
The image at the top is the proposed cover art for the game ChatGPT and I riffed on, as drawn by Midjourney.
Azeem: Are you familiar with Azul?
ChatGPT: Yes, I am familiar with Azul. It is a popular abstract strategy board game designed by Michael Kiesling. Players take turns selecting tiles from factories and placing them onto their individual player boards to score points. The goal is to score the most points by creating aesthetically pleasing patterns and completing sets. It's a challenging and fun game that has received many awards and accolades.
Azeem: Ok. and you obviously know Ticket to Ride as well
ChatGPT: Yes, I'm familiar with Ticket to Ride! It's a popular board game designed by Alan R. Moon. The game takes place in the early 20th century and players collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities in various countries around the world. The objective is to connect as many cities as possible to score the most points. Ticket to Ride is known for its simple yet engaging gameplay, beautiful artwork, and replayability. It's a great game for families and casual gamers, and has many different versions and expansions available.
Azeem: What are the abstract characteristics that Ticket to Ride and Azul have in common?
ChatGPT: Ticket to Ride and Azul share several abstract characteristics:
Route building: Both games involve building routes or patterns, either by connecting cities in Ticket to Ride or laying tiles in Azul.
Resource management: Both games require players to carefully manage their resources, such as train cards in Ticket to Ride and tiles in Azul.
Set collection: Both games involve collecting sets of specific elements, such as train cards of a certain color in Ticket to Ride or tiles of a specific color and shape in Azul.
Strategic planning: Both games require players to plan ahead and make strategic decisions, such as which routes to build or which tiles to take from the factories.
High replayability: Both games have high replayability, as there are many different ways to score points and the games can be played multiple times without feeling repetitive.
These are just a few of the abstract characteristics that Ticket to Ride and Azul share.
I hadn't thought of Azul as a route-building game. But strictly it is true, although the routes are somewhat more constrained than in Ticket to Ride. I'm repeatedly impressed by the abstraction ability of the chatbot. I often ask this question when I am working with it. Occasionally, I'll challenge the categorisation and it can come up with new ones.
Azeem: Would it be fair to say that Ticket to Ride is closer in game style to Azul, than Monopoly is to Azul?
ChatGPT: Yes, it would be fair to say that Ticket to Ride is closer in game style to Azul than Monopoly is to Azul. While both Ticket to Ride and Monopoly are board games, they have very different gameplay mechanics and styles.
Ticket to Ride and Azul are both abstract strategy games that involve route building, resource management, set collection, and strategic planning. They both have relatively simple rules and a focus on strategy and planning.
In contrast, Monopoly is a classic roll-and-move game that primarily involves players acquiring property, building houses and hotels, and collecting rent from other players. Monopoly has a much stronger focus on luck, as players' progress is largely determined by the roll of the dice.
So while both Ticket to Ride and Monopoly are board games, Ticket to Ride is much more similar in style and gameplay to Azul.
This makes sense. Quite an impressive answer though. After this, I instructed ChatGPT to imagine entirely new board games which it did, as you can read below. I was 🤯. Wow.