First I started with a random seed: in this case, the "Random Article" link at Wikipedia. I got this article: Komatsu 830E, a dump truck used in open pit mining. I began researching open pit mining, which made me think of this really great socialist documentary I watched called "An Injury to One," about the Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana -- one of the largest Superfund sites ever -- and how the now-polluted open pit mine symbolizes the greed and ruthlessness of capitalist enterprise, the Anaconda Mining Co.
So now I'm thinking that it'll be a socialist mining game, and I'm trying to think of concepts I can prototype...
Maybe some sort of shoveling game for two (2) players, a big box full of marbles or pebbles, and you have to set "bridges" (in mining, it is the vertical level of a hole) using cardboard walls. Players will take turns setting up their retaining walls and shoveling material to find the precious minerals in the pit. They sift their dig for minerals, then pour the rest back into the pit, ideally behind a retaining wall. A player can also choose not to "shovel" during their turn.
Once a player digs up a "chemical" pebble, mining is over and clean-up must begin.
The player with the most minerals gets a bonus and the player with the least amount of minerals loses; it is now the loser's job to distribute more chemical pollutant pebbles throughout the pit to try to make the other player lose more. The winner can either try to dig the chemicals out or try to cover the chemicals with dirt pebbles so that it's not visible. Each turn costs them one mineral pebble, to fund the clean-up. If the player runs out of money before the clean-up is done, then so be it. They'll stay there for the next round, as places where the player shouldn't dig.
Tally mineral totals for both players. Start a new round. Play until you're bored / depressed.
Future tasks for later in "The Week" (TM):
- Gather materials (two kinds of pebble for dirt / minerals), a small shovel, a large box. We'll need an easy way to remove the chemical pebbles (maybe?), maybe they can be magnetic metal things? That way they'll be heavier and automatically sink to the bottom of the pit box. I'll go to a craft store or maybe Canal Plastics?
- Build the first prototype.
- Conduct a playtest (field research) with a prototype and iterate on that version.
- Research labor unions and Butte, Montana some more and incorporate those themes into the narrative / mechanics of the game.
- Look and feel polish to the thing?