Guided Tour

A brief walkthru of the HipBone Site and Games

This page offers a "guided tour" through the HipBone site, which will give newcomers an idea of the variety and scope of the HipBone Games project as a whole. I hope it will also expose you to a few of the stranger and more delightful corners of the site.

And you might like to take a look, too, at some of the outrageous claims we make for our games...

Charles Cameron

The Basic Idea

If you are unfamiliar with the HipBone family of Games, the scheme is pretty simple. To play, you just

place an idea
in clarity
like a stone in a zen
ripples extend
toward the next stone
the next idea...

All of my boards consist of numbered circles with lines joining them, and any system that meets those criteria can be a board, from a "barbell" on up...

Players in turn place ideas in the numbered circles. The purpose is to choose ideas that link with one another along the connecting lines of the board... The ideas in question can be texts, quotes, graphic images, video or music clips, sound effects, names of people or places -- indeed anything that can be put into digital text or graphic or sound or video. And the links between them can be associations of any sort -- parallelism, analogy, metaphor, opposition, whatever strikes your fancy...

The player's aim is to come up with...

as many links to the other ideas as possible
for competitive play at its most basic, or

unexpected / beautiful / insightful links
for collaborative play with aesthetic intent.

You can play these games at any level, from sheer gossip games to high-serious art games... maliciously, or for meditative delight...

That's the long and short of it...

And if you've ever said, "and that reminds me..." -- you can play these games.

The Boards

You might like to take a look at a couple of our boards next, to get an idea of what the things are like:

WaterBird Board
TenStones Board

As you see, what our boards have in common is the basic pattern of circles with connecting lines -- and any board which has this basic pattern can in theory be used for the HipBone Games. Part of the fun of designing these games, in fact, has been finding suitable patterns... and if you come up with a few ideas yourself, feel free to contact us.


Because these are games of ideas, they can involve pretty much any topic or topics from rock music to quantum physics, and be played at pretty much any level from grade school to post doctoral -- so wandering through this site for the first time without a guide can be a little daunting, like wandering through a large bookstore if you don't know which subjects will interest you, or which books are too basic or too scholarly for your taste...

Don't let yourself be daunted... This page, like a bookstore clerk, will help you find your way around.


Try this one first! "Chuck Stew" is probably the simplest game on the HipBone site, with moves ranging from "beef jerky" and "mustang" to "brahma" and "home on the range" -- and taking a quick look at it should be an excellent way to get the hang of things before you play a round or two yourself.

Chuck Stew

Next, let's take a look at a game written to illustrate the process of thought that goes into play.The moves here are more complex, and involve the kind of knowledge of music, film, and history that two bright college kids might bring to the game:

Apocalypse Now

Any game that's played with moves that the players draw from their own knowledge can seem a little overwhelming to someone whose knowledge base is different... so as you read the games, I'd ask you to bear in mind that you'll get a far better sense of the games from playing them yourself than from readings games that other people have played. Hell, the whole idea is to stretch your memory, capacity to associate, and imagination to the maximum...

Finally, I'd invite you to take a look at a game about the history of games: fascinating stuff, involving a pretty "sophisticated" knowledge base -- most of which was unknown to both players at the beginning of the game, and resulted from research on the web during play:

Games within Games

And that's another neat thing about these games, incidentally -- you can come up with some pretty "informed moves", just by popping the words you want to connect to into a decent web browser -- Lycos is good for this, because it tells you how many of your "terms" each web page contains...

Neat, huh? You learn something new, and get to dazzle your opponent with your, uh, air of infinite knowledge...


And just for the record, we also have a number of ideas for educational, psychological and problem solving applications of these games, which we hope to develop with professionals in those fields via grants and online and on site research.

A moment of choice

If you're interested in playing the games at this point, please go to our Invitation to the Games page, where you'll find the rules -- and whatever else you'll need to play.

If you'd like to know just how fine we think our games are -- as ideal games for the web, as innovative artforms, as party games, as playable variants on Hermann Hesse's celebrated Glass Bead Game -- take a look at our Outrageous Claims page.

If you'd like to read HipBone's essays on GBG design, the present and future of computer games, poetry and myth, or apocalypse, you'll need to go to our Welcome page and choose the appropriate sub index.

And if on the other hand, you'd like to learn more about the HipBones Games approach, read on...

Our theory of Game Design

The HipBone Games draw their inspiration from Hermann Hesse's Nobel Prize winning novel, Magister Ludi, which describes a game in which the whole range of human knowledge -- arts, sciences, humanities, whatever -- can be represented. And a core feature of the game Hesse describes is the possibility of meditating on the moves. HipBone Games at their best include this meditative aspect, and can themselves be serious works of art or scholarship.

In this spirit, I have made a beginning stab at describing an aesthetics of moves. I strongly recommend this piece to anyone who is interested in the meditative and aesthetic side of our games:

Meditations for Game Players

Here's a curious piece on how books can resonate together -- which we're hoping to turn into a "promotional game" for a bookstore chain, with people wandering round the store looking for books which connect in terms of title or author...:

The Hidden Links between Books

Finally -- for light relief -- here some images of what look to me like HipBone games being played in mediaeval / renaissance times, together with a couple of my own ideas for 3-d boards:

Ancient and Future Game Boards

There! That's it!

Well, that took a whole lot less effort than trawling our entire site, and should have given you a clearer overview of the whole HipBone project as it stands at present. We aim eventually to include board games, CD ROM or OnLine games via AOL or CompuServe or whatever, educational tools, psychological aids, contests, books... a whole spectrum of different approaches and levels.

Where would you like to go next? Would you like to go to our Invitation to the Games page and play a round yourself? Or perhaps return to our Welcome page, and chose one of our site indexes for a more in depth look at a particular area that interests you?

A note about this Site

We have worked with a minimum of graphics and almost no color on these pages, in order to make them readily accessible to those who don't have the speediest modems and fanciest hard and software. The sample games themselves come with micro-boards which illustrate the position of each move, and a larger board at the end which summarizes each game. Apart from that, we're as mean and lean and simple as we can be, and we hope you'll appreciate the quiet aesthetic which this entirely pragmatic choice confers on our pages.

Go to:

HipBone Welcome
Invitation to the Games
Barebones HipBone Site Index
Annotated HipBone Site Index

Contact us:

HipBone Games rules, boards, sample games and other materials are copyright (c) Charles Cameron 1995, 96. See Concerning Copyright for full copyright details.