Volity: digital games for analog people

So this guy asked me, “Aren’t you excited about anything at Origins besides your scheduled events?” And I said, “Well, I’m apparently going to be on the gaming-podcasters Q&A that Paul Tevis set up, so that’s cool… but I’m mostly looking forward to seeing people I haven’t seen in a long time, like the Volity guys.” And I realized two things: 1) I have started thinking of them as “the Volity guys” instead of a subset of the Looney Labs community (how I first met them); 2) I haven’t told you people what Volity is yet, and it’s in public beta now.

Volity is like the old-style Yahoo Games, only less sucky in two ways. First, it isn’t the same old combo of chess, go, hearts and backgammon – not that there’s anything wrong with that. (It’s also not the garish collection of Bejeweled clones that Yahoo Games has since become.) And second, it’s an entirely open-source protocol – anyone (with the technical acumen!) can add their game to Volity. The technology basically supports turn-based games only, for a lot of good reasons, and the culture going into it has solid roots in board and card games from the light and fluffy to the hardcore.

The list of games as it stands is an odd mix of the classic, the obscure, and the really obscure. More than one Looney Labs title is there – there’s a great implementation of Fluxx, which will be worth the download on its own for many people. (Yeah, there’s a download, and you need Java. But it won’t tax your system, really.) Other highlights include Your Move’s Space Station Assault, which gives you a broader idea of the direction Volity has in mind.

I really like this project – enough to put their slogan right there in the subject line of this post (I don’t think I’ve ever done that before). I haven’t made a game to run on their framework yet, but I haven’t ruled it out. You might be similarly inspired; take a look.