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GDC: The Inter-Species Game Design Challenge 2008 

In 2008, at the Game Development Conference, Eric Zimmerman presented the game design challenge ‘The Inter-Species Game Design Challenge’. Each year, the challenge pits famous designers against each other on a themed challenge to spur creative response and reflect on new types of game play. The challenge sits on the design track of the conference and has become a staple attraction of the track.

The challenge in 2008 saw Brenda Brathwaite (Wizardry), Steve Meretzky (Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy) and Alexey Pajitnov (Tetris) compete to design 3 potential games which promoted interspecies play. Alexey Pajitnov’s designed Dolphin Ride, Steve Meretzky’s designed TrayStation and Brenda Braithwaite One Hundred Dogs.


“TrayStation”: a Petri dish containing millions of bacteria battling virtual castles on the player’s screen — against the players “defence microwaves”. Of course, millions of bacteria would die: but those that didn’t would “level-up,” Meretzky said, reaching to a near fever-pitch: “It’s the game that makes germ warfare available to the whole family, the game that puts the fun back into fungicide,” he finished.

Dolphin Ride

“My game takes place in the real word with real dolphins, but in the virtual space at the same time. The team consist of one dolphin and two human players: a navigator and a shooter. It uses a special hardware which I call the dolphin saddle.”

One Hundred Dogs

“It’s called One Hundred Dogs. There are basically 50 players with 50 real dogs and 50 virtual dogs across 50 cities. It starts at the Westminster Dog Show. Players register at, and there are challenges in 50 cities, including owner-based challenges and dog-based challenges. Winners are awarded points, and there’s a leader board. It was designed to build community among local players. That’s phase one.”

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