Thinking about rats

Rattus P. Rattus, sans leather jacket
H. Zell/Wikimedia Commons CC/BY

Last week we went to a boardgame night, and played ‘Rattus’, a game about the plague. Well, it looked like it was about the plague, but it didn’t really feel right.  People were somehow attracted to rats, the plague was more lethal to those holding down multiple jobs, and outbreaks were caused by malice, not infection.

As a result, the sorts of strategies which would be sensible for combating the plague were ineffective. Sure you can eliminate all the rats from an area, but then your people don’t multiply. Even if you get everyone to a safe area, the other players can cause rats to spread anywhere, even after your long and costly rat eradication program.

I’ve got a game in my cupboard back home, which I have yet to play. It’s by one of my favourite board game designers, Phil Eklund, a man who creates deeply thematic games. His beliefs and understandings form the core of his games, which is great when, as a rocket scientist, he makes a game about near future space exploitation. I feel more conflicted when, as a Randian Objectctivist with interesting views on consciousness, he makes a game about human development.

I’ve been thinking about what beliefs and understandings we hold as a group, and which of those we want to inform our performances. I quite like the framework of threshold based resilience modelling, but I’m pretty sure that it’s not the most common form of modelling used today. Are we limiting our options by focusing on a fringe form of modelling? Will catchment managers and climate scientists feel a little bit queasy when watching our work?

– David Shaw


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