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Urban Nightmare: State of Chaos megagame brings 500 players together in world’s largest face-to-face game

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Every state in America has declared they are in a state of emergency, several politicians are under arrest or missing, and major cities have been evacuated. It’s not quite the end of the world, but it’s getting there.

This was the fallout of Urban Nightmare: State of Chaos, the latest megagame to be run by Megagame Makers. The game represented a fictional state in the USA (Ouisconsin), with 50 players taking on the roles of politicians, police chiefs, the national guard, the press, and corporations. 5 huge maps represented the biggest cities in the state, and the “Zombiemeisters” would appear every turn to drop Zombie counters on them to represent the zombies taking over.

To make things more complex, there was also a State Map depicting the entire state, and some National Guard players were responsible for using military units here to contain the zombie outbreaks and the stop zombies spilling in from other states. That was what made this game special – the other states were other actual games taking place around the world! In total, this game ran simultaneously in eleven locations, ranging from Brussels to London to Canada, with each game representing a different fictional state. Any time zombies spilled across state lines, they would appear on maps in the other games, leading to many emails being sent back and forth in an attempt to coordinate a truly global effort.

My role in this madness was as a Control, whose job was to facilitate the running of the game. In particular, I was the Communications Control, which meant I was responsible for managing anything that crossed from our state into one of our neighbours – which was mostly zombies, but also trade deals between the corporations, and reinforcements sent in by the President herself!

The President was yet another player, who ran a team that managed the national response to the zombie crisis. They had a map detailing the entire nation, and used it to deploy military units and resources to the different games. This impacted our game significantly, as twice we had our military players just about to lose control of the zombie plague when an army of units were sent in from the national players. It was quite something to see the look on the military players’ faces, when just as they thought all hope was lost I arrived with 20 new unit counters and dropped them on the map.

This lead to one of my favourite moments of the game, as the players in Wright City (which was just about to be lost to the zombies) suddenly had a swarm of military units pour in to save the day. Hope turned to dismay, however, as the army promptly left the following turn, and the city had to fend for itself once more.

Throughout it all, the Press players were interviewing the political players and producing news reports on a website that anyone from any game could access. It seemed to be mostly filled with accusations of various corporations being the origin of the zombie plague, but no one was quite able to prove who was behind it before the game ended.

At the conclusion of the final turn, the players took a collective deep breath, and had a quiet moment to reflect on the madness within which they had all been embroiled. Then the bar opened, and the hall was filled with noise once more as stories from the day were swapped. Indeed, even within a single game no one is sure of everything that happened, but that’s why we do it – it was a collective endeavour, and crafted a unique narrative that, even if exactly the same game were to run again, would never be replicated.

Tom Parry

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