Organic food advocates point out that being able to eat any fruit or vegetable at any time of year is a new phenomenon. For most of history, foods rotated in and out of season, available only when they were ripe. What if games tried a similar dynamic?
Sports, of course, already do this. Baseball is great during the spring, summer, and fall, but is nigh-unplayable in winter. (American) Football is tremendous fun in wet, mucky weather, but all that equipment gets uncomfortable when it’s hot. Hockey, when played outdoors, demands temperatures below freezing.
Yet, there’s no reason why the change of seasons can only influence physical games. A board game, for example, could use temperature-sensitive ink for its board; imagine a survival game whose board only appears when it’s very cold. Having to bundle up to play the game might really help set the mood!
Or perhaps the pieces themselves are temperature-sensitive, so that the game is different depending on when it’s played. A wargame about ancient Greece, for example, might model the changing roles of the era’s soldier-farmers using that technique; when it’s warm the pieces are ready for combat, but as the temperature cools they lose interest in combat and have to return to the home front. There’s a market for grand-scale games like World in Flames; how much more epic would a game about the Peloponnesian War be, if it actually played out over the course of a year?
These games might not even be playable in some places, owing to the local climate, whereas they would often be playable in others. Is that frustrating, or is it awesome? I can see a lot of valid concerns, but I can also imagine great stories coming out of people going to the Grand Canyon or the Great Pyramids in order to get the right environment to play a game.
Certainly, these would be niche products. It’s hard to imagine a game store shutting off the heat so that the players can get down to the sub-zero temperatures that activate Ice Floe Survival’s board, or parents letting their kids mess with the thermostat in order to speed up their game of Real-Time Ancient Greek Conflict. Still, I feel like there are interesting results to be found pushing out the boundaries of “what can influence a game” in this way. Is anybody already doing something like this?