27 December 2012

Gamification of Christmas Gifts

This Christmas my family got together as we used to, each bringing one general-purpose gift that everyone could at least technically enjoy. To handle distribution of those as well as the basket full of cookies and chocolate that my grandmother brought along, I made a simple dice-game that gave the whole thing randomness, competition, and something akin to an economy. Let me elaborate:

There is a real gift for each family member in a santa-bag. At the end, everyone should have one of these. As they are wrapped up, you only know the contents of your own gift, but you can guess by size and shape (and temperature, more on that later) whether you want them or not. The grandma-stuff is bonus material and does not need to be distributed evenly, thus allowing for an actual winner of Christmas Eve.

The first phase works in the following way: Each player/family member takes turns rolling a pair of dice. A pair of either 1s, 2s, or 3s allow the player to take one bonus gift from the grandma-box. Any six and the player picks a regular gift from the bag. A pair of 4s, 5s, or 6s means the player must exchange their own regular gift with one that another player has already taken. The first phase ends whenever all regular gifts have been distributed (and are now secured for their respective owner). Over the course of the first phase, a mystery frozen-box my father had brought as a gift was the most coveted item, changing hands several times with my cousin and his wife trading it back and forth between them when they'd have to trade in order to keep it in their household. My uncle got it in the end and as it turned out that it was full of delicious frozen wild-boar steak, the calamity from those who had lost this prize was great.

The second phase kicks into gear with the war for the remaining grandma-gifts. A pair of 1s, 2s or 3s still means you can take one from the box but a pair of 4s, 5s, and 6s now means you can steal one of the grandma-gifts from someone else. On a six, one would unwrap their own regular gift. The phase ends once all grandma-gifts are out and all regular gifts are unwrapped. During this phase, as the market for sweets and cookies was definitely saturated, the fight was on over a bag of noodles, of all things. It ended up with my older cousin but I was able to strike a deal with her afterwards, exchanging it for something else. Cooked and ate them yesterday, tasting the sweet taste of victory over both my other cousin and my uncle.

So, the whole gift-ceremony took well over an hour and everyone was having a blast. I recommend gamification of your gift-giving ceremony, if your folks are up to it. A belated merry Christmas to those of you to whom it applies from MadZabGaming!

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