There’s an interesting class of things we might call “governance games”, which play with ideas of how to aggregate many people’s choices into an aggregate choice. Two examples:
Twitch plays pokemon: people enter keystrokes in chat, which are used as inputs to play pokemon
Reddit’s 2022 April Fool’s game, r/place: each account gets to place one “tile” on a large board. By coordinating, many accounts can create beautiful art, or vandalize others’ beautiful art, or get into a great fun cross-vandalism war
These “governance games” can be thought of as kind of performance art, illustrating vividly the difficulty of aggregating individual preferences into social choices. In the pokemon case, any individual person could do a much better job of playing pokemon than the cacophony of voices in chat competing against each other. The initial lack of a mechanism for any kind of sane aggregation of choices led to total chaos. And, ironically, probably more chaos, the more people participated! The social pokemon production function is in fact decreasing in the total amount of human effort spent on it.
Twitch eventually beat pokemon, of course: the trick was to introduce an aggregation mechanism. Instead of just processing proposed actions serially in order of their entry, Twitch instead majority-voted on the next action to take. This saner aggregation mechanism effectively coordinated Twitch chat’s actions, eventually allowing Twitch to beat pokemon!
Stepping back, governance games are a striking illustration of how hard the problem of preference aggregation is. Beating pokemon, or drawing nice pictures on a pixel grid, are both trivial tasks for a single person to complete. But, without a sane mechanism for aggregation, they are much more difficult for the group as a whole to complete!
So, one attempted definition of a governance game might be a game which forces multiple people to contribute to a problem, perhaps constraining their communication or coordination in a way which generates “interesting” output. With that definition, here are a few more governance games:
Three-legged race: like TPP, forcing two people to do a job which is trivial for one person. An action as simple as walking, performed in forced coordination between two people, is surprisingly difficult!
A fun game to play is this variant of Mario Kart: play in teams of 2 players each. In each team, one person watches the screen and calls out instructions. The other person faces away from the screen and drives. Again, once you split the ability to look at a screen, and the ability to drive, across two people, a trivial task for a single person immediately becomes almost impossible (I suggest trying this at some point, it’s super fun)
Another game which is similar in spirit is “keep talking and nobody explodes”, which is a 2-player bomb defusal game with a similar flavor: one person sees the bomb, one person sees the defusal manual.
So these are some 2-person “governance games”. Twitch plays pokemon can be thought of as something like a 3-legged race problem with a few tens of thousands of legs to coordinate.
So with these examples in mind, what are other interesting “governance games”? The formula for generating a governance game seems to be to take an action generally done by one person, and forcibly split it across multiple people. What are some other possible examples of interesting governance games?