Room at the Top
| • Developer: Miranda Banks, Sam Liberty, and Jess Weaver |
| • Year(s) Shown: 2017 |
| • Platform: tabletop game |
| • Website: https://elab.emerson.edu/projects/games-for-social-change/room-at-the-top |
About Miranda Banks, Sam Liberty, and Jess Weaver
- Miranda Banks, Creator and Co-writer
- Sam Liberty, Co-Writer
- Jess Weaver, Researcher
- Made at The Engagement Lab at Emerson College
Room at the Top is a title featured at IndieCade 2017.
About Room at the Top
Room at the Top is a massively multiplayer card game for groups from 12-100 people run by one facilitator. Players take on the role of interplanetary media-makers and compete both as individuals and groups to win the top prize in an intergalactic media arts festival. Over the course of the game, players hailing from four different planets are challenged to collaborate to create the best creative work, but must pit their individual goals against that of the group. These goals are designed to highlight real world biases, so players are motivated to work with people similar to them (from the same planet, wearing the same shoes, etc.) to achieve a personal victory. Like in the real world, some players are more powerful than others because of the resources they (and their home planet) bring to the table. Players must balance power and influence, personalities, and creative output to win.
Play is broken into three rounds. In round 1, players find one person to team up with and draw an idea on a sheet of paper. In round 2, the pairs must form into groups of four and commit to a synthesized idea, which is drawn on large posters. Finally, in round 3, players are given the opportunity to break with their teams and poach other teams’ members in order to work toward group and individual goals.
Groups who garner enough influence to get into the festival get to reach into the Bag of Success where they win prizes. Those who don’t get enough points are invited to the other side of the room, where there is an “Indie” festival. All groups compete for the audience award in their category—big budget or indie. Indie award winners get a small prize and big budget winners get a Worldie—the greatest award in the galaxy.
The game is low-tech and highly creative. Players draw their ideas on poster paper and interactivity is key. By the game’s end, players engage in a rich conversation about how personal ambition still leaves room at the top for a diverse group of collaborators.