Welcome to the first Experiment 7 blog post—the one where we finally start talking about what we’re doing.
But before that, hello! I’m Geoffrey “GZ” Zatkin, co-founder and creative director of Experiment 7. I’ve been working in the game industry for over two decades, and was an indie developer before that. I was fortunate enough to have been a member of the original EverQuest design team, and worked in senior/lead design positions on a decade of massively multiplayer online games (MMOs). In 2006 I co-founded the game research company EEDAR, and more recently co-founded Experiment 7 with the help of some of my favorite game industry people.
I’ve always loved games, be it board games, card games, role-playing games, strategy miniature games, video games, etc. In junior high, I started playing multiplayer BBS games. In college, I added collectible card games and began playing and programing MUDs. Post-college it was tabletop war games. As a game industry professional, it was MMOs. At EEDAR, it was delving into the actual data and mechanics of creating commercially successful games.
I’ve also always enjoyed the communal aspect of games, and how they bring people together. For thousands of years, with a few exceptions like Solitaire, games were things that people played socially. Video games, while adding richly to the menu of game types and experiences, have not always been able to cater to this social aspect of game playing. Some of my best game playing memories involve slotting quarters into Street Fighter II machines, the group improv nature of dungeon mastering, watching an opponent’s expressions in Magic: The Gathering, and shaking hands after a Warhammer 40k match.
As I write this, at the start of 2017, we’re at the beginning of our first real generation of consumer-grade virtual reality. To me, one of the most striking “killer app” aspects of virtual reality is presence. If I had to make an analogy, the difference between a “looking at a screen” experience and a virtual reality experience is the difference between talking to my wife on Skype versus talking to her across a coffee table. Presence is something that in-person games have, and that most traditional video game don’t.
At Experiment 7, we’re using virtual reality as a medium to bridge this intersection between social presence and video game play experience. So here’s the pitch.
We’re making a series of beautiful environments where you can meet up with your friends from around the world. In the middle of each of these environments is a “Magic Table™” that can spawn any number of games that are played on tables. We’re starting with Chess, a game most people are familiar with, and are already in production on more titles for the Magic Table library (watch for announcements soon!). The overall concept is simple: Join your friends in beautiful virtual settings, select a game to play, watch the game materialize on the Magic Table, and play it together.
Each game will be a fully realized project, developed by a professional game team. All games will play within the same dynamically swappable environments, allowing a group to hang out, have people drop in and out, switch games on the fly, and, in general, give you game night with your friends anytime, no matter where anyone is geographically.
It’s an ambitious proposal. We’d love to have you to come along for the ride.
Creative Director, Experiment 7