I spent today prototyping a game around trust: I thought I’d just share a narrative of the experience, is it really got me thinking about how complex trust is within groups. The nature of the game is that it’s played with six people, all of whom are on a pirate ship, some of whom are mutineers. You don’t know at the start how many, if any, of your crew mates are mutineers. All you know, is whether you yourself are (it’s decided when you are dealt a card at the start of the game). I don’t worry too much about the detail of the rules, but rather the experience of playing.
It turned out in this prototype game that two people were mutineers, and four of us were loyal crew mates. I did not guess who the two mutineers were, indeed, I had a strongly held view, forged over the five rounds of the game, that two other people were guilty.
One thing that was very interesting was how we all, in the discussion phases, picked up on the tiniest details as we scrutinised our crew mates to try to determine who was guilty, and who was innocent. One person was judged guilty because they use the word ‘we’ a lot, and it was felt that they were trying to ingratiate themselves to others. One person was judged guilty because they were quite quiet, and we felt they were trying not to draw attention to themselves.
It was fascinating to see the way that looks were traded, the ways we desperately trying to think of ways to test whether people were loyal, the ways alliances were formed.
Trust is complicated, is not outwardly visible, is easily misread. Playing the game today may be recognised that no matter how much research I do, no matter how carefully we map the Landscape of Trust, trust will always be complex, and we may never know who the mutineers are until it’s too late!