After over a year of silence as I dove into my game design, PhD exams, and coursework, I am so happy to announce that Lizards and Lies (the board game started when I began looking at wargaming) is officially released for public download!
For any unaware, Lizards and Lies (L&L) is a boardgame that allows players to disinform or stop the disinforming of the internet. You play on a team against 2 other players, working to spread ridiculous conspiracy theories. Working with distinct powers and player cards watch as you fill social media with insanity or strive to remove all the lies being touted. We have Platform Moderators and Digital Literacy Educators facing off against Conspiracy Theorists and Edgelords in a battle for social media.
I am so excited to have this project be publically available. While I cannot send everyone in my life free boxes of the game, I can make all of the play files free so you can download it all and play at home. For those interested in learning more let me take a second to breakdown the project a little bit.
Lizards and Birds Fight for Power
The game has two major conspiracy theories that are trying to find their place within social media. The design intent is to ask players to think about which theories might be more powerful where and hint at the similarities and differences in misinformed content online.
First we have the Birds. Based on the Birds Aren’t Real Campaign, the conspiracy suggests that Birds have been replaced by government drones and are trying to surveil and control the public. While ridiculous, the theory has since been seen as satire and is actively used to challenge and mock existing theories. I included reference to it into the game in order to stick with something a bit silly but still tangible to our day to day. Hopefully this prevents uncomfortable conversations at the table.
Then we have the titular lizards. The conspiracy theory is based on a longstanding idea of reptilian aliens. In the game, it is slightly satirized and focused on the idea of world leaders as lizards in human skin suits. Totally normal if you ask me. Nonetheless, the lizard conspiracy theory functions as another grounded in reality but distinct point of discussion that should hopefully bring a slight smile to most players faces.
A Research Project and a Game
While a playable boardgame, the project was also a research initiative. Born from my study of wargaming, I looking at how boardgames could model common analogies like the disinformation war. I wrote a paper with the game’s graphic designer on it as well as gave a small series of presentations at TAG and the Canadian Game Studies Association.
Already there has been such lovely reception for the project. While the release today is the English version, there is so much more set to come! I will try my best to keep this blog up to date of all future project developments which include:
- The French version of the game (currently undergoing playtests to make sure our translation is on point)
- Lesson plans and teaching support documents so you can run it in your classroom
- A “How to Play video” featuring yours truly explaining the game (to go alongside the current rules book)
- A Post-Mortem discussing the game
This project was a class project and personal endeavour made real through the support of such a wonderful team of people. I am so grateful for the support of Dr. Fenwick McKelvey, Alexandre Bustamante, the machine agencies team, and all my playtesters. Additionally, I must thank those who game some funding including the Technoculture, Arts, and Games research Lab (TAG), as well as the Digital Citizen Contribution Program.
To download the game and learn more you can check out the following links:
- Machine Agencies: https://machineagencies.milieux.ca/lizards-lies/
- Board Game Geek: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/363576/lizards-and-lies
- Itch.io for Download: https://ped4ntic.itch.io/lizards-and-lies/devlog/390139/game-launch