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The Raw Shark Texts: The Board Game Options
Posted: Sunday, December 2, 2012 5:16:07 PM
Rank: Fry
Groups: Shoal

Joined: 11/29/2012
Posts: 3
Hi all,

I’ve created my own Raw Shark Texts physical board game and thought I would share it with this community.

So, I’m posting to this message board instructions, images, and explanations for how to build your own Raw Shark Texts board game, based on the fantastical story-world of Steven Hall’s novel. In sending out this information over this message board, it is my hope that I can find some like-minded folks who would perhaps either be interested in playing the game, would like to try to recreate the game themselves, would want to collaborate to build an online version of the game (if you happen to be a computer science whiz) or who might have some feedback or suggestions for how to make the game better. Most of the items used in this game were purchased at The Scrap Exchange in Durham, NC for $6.22.

Like the many online games that have sprung up around “The Hunger Games” movie release last year, my hope is that this game should provide a boon to sales of Mr. Hall’s book and be a way for people who are excited about it to discourse in a different type of setting than the typical book club.

Rules of the Game:
The goal of the game is to be the first character to copy Mr. Nobody’s computer hard-drive (by taking a floppy disk from inside of it) and to reach the end of the board, whereby one has the opportunity to destroy the Mycroft Ward internet-based intelligence system by boarding the Orpheus shark hunting vessel to use Nobody’s disk against the Ludovician. This must be done while avoiding such perils as being attacked by conceptual fish that lower your working memory level (if your memory gets too low you will lose), as well as being attacked and subsumed by Mycroft Ward’s network. In the game I intended to recreate some of the central elements of the elaborate and fascinating story-world of The Raw Shark Texts, while taking some liberties to make it fit the confines of the board game medium.

The game is set in “unspace,” a concept that Hall defines and establishes in this novel, and the four characters are represented by characters from the popular and highly transmediated paratext Toy Story, with Eric as Woody, Scout as Dolly, Trey as Buzz Lightyear and Ian the cat as Buttercup, each of whom are members of the “Unspace Exploration Committee” (well, maybe not the cat). The choice of characters from Toy Story was based on the fact that Hall’s novel references the film, as when Clio purchases an underwater camera to take pictures of fish, Eric 1 comments that the camera looks like Buzz Lightyear.

My board game also references a number of the fan contributions found on this message board, by incorporating web links of digital fan participation to be accessed for various purposes during the game. For example, one fan has created a fake Flikr Photo account for Eric Sanderson’s psychologist in the novel, called “Dr. Randle’s Photostream,” which includes four photos with respective captions including “ewe,” “tube,” “purple,” “shark.” This page provides a not-so-subtle encoded message for a fan to “youtube purple shark.” When one types “purple shark” into the youtube search box, one is taken to a video of two flickering light bulbs attached to a circuit, which appear to be relaying a Morse code message. I have incorporated this decoding process into my game, and have added further encryption to the process. Specifically, I have set up a scenario whereby, if one draws a certain “chance” card, they are instructed to “decipher the code from Dr. Randle’s photostream [which I have shortened and thus encrypted by using the URL shortener] at If you can crack the code and can “see the light,” you will regain 5% of your working memory.”

Additionally, I have included two-dimensional QR (quick response) matrix bar codes on the chance cards that correspond to the links, such that if one wishes to use their smartphone as a bar-code reader, they can pull up the links this way as well. By drawing on such web-based fan contributions to Hall’s paratext, as well as to images and ideas directly appropriated from Hall’s novel—as another card reads “You have been attacked by a Fossil Fish that has taken away 10% of your working memory. See Hall p. 95 for a picture and description of your assailant”—it has been my intention to create a highly transmediated work that both draws upon and simultaneously builds upon Hall’s original novel.

Because Hall's novel establishes such unique guiding principles and is an adventure (or even choose your own adventure-type) novel, I think it lends itself nicely to the board game genre. My hope in making The Raw Shark Texts The Board Game has been to provide my own contribution to the transmedia storyworld that Steven Hall has set in motion.

I realize this post is kind of long and rambling, but any thoughts, suggestions, critiques or ideas for how members of this community can better engage with the texts and the game are welcomed.
Posted: Sunday, December 2, 2012 5:29:03 PM
Rank: Fry
Groups: Shoal

Joined: 11/29/2012
Posts: 3
Here is a link to photos of the board game

Also, below find a more detailed set of instructions (or "unstructions") that are meant to acclimate someone who is unfamiliar with the novel with its setting, characters and internal logic.

The Raw Shark Texts: The Board Game

You have awoken in an unfamiliar location. You have no idea who you are or where you are. After spending some indistinct amount of time looking around what appears to be your dwelling, nothing seems familiar. You pat down your pockets and, after fingering through the cash, receipts, bus tickets and an empty book of stamps, you find a wallet. Inside the wallet, you locate a driver’s license. Bearing your likeness, the name Eric Sanderson appears. Nothing comes back to you.

After emerging from what appears to be your bedroom, you make your way down a threadbare staircase towards the apartment’s front door. Next to the front door is a hallstand table and on the hallstand table is a big blue envelope, propped up and facing the stairs, not to be missed. “On the front of the envelope [are] big black felt-tip words: THIS IS ADDRESSED TO YOU, and underneath, OPEN NOW."

You open the envelope and find two sheets of paper- a typed letter and a hand drawn map that directs you to navigate through a maze of books in unspace, that forms the shape of the word “Thera.” This is what the letter says:


First thing’s first, stay calm.

If you are reading this, I am not around any more.

You have been meeting with a therapist, Dr. Randle, for some time for your condition. While she means well, she has probably told you that you suffer from a psychosomatic dissociative disorder, whereby your memories could come back at any time. This is not accurate. I am not coming back, nothing is coming back.

In fact, the reason it seems that so much has been eaten away from the insides of your head is because it has. I’ll explain: After my lover, Clio Aames, tragically died in a freak scuba diving accident off of the coast of Naxos Island, Greece, I, like Orpheus, desperately attempted to revive her. In one of these failed attempts, I knowingly unleashed a dangerous predator that has been hunting you ever since.

“The animal hunting you is a Ludovician. It is an example of one of the many species of purely conceptual fish which swim in the flows of human interaction and the tides of cause and effect. This may sound like madness, but it isn’t…The Ludovician is a predator, a shark. It feeds on human memories and the intrinsic sense of self. Ludovicians are solitary, fiercely territorial and methodical hunters. A Ludovician might select an individual human being as its prey animal and pursue and feed on that individual over the course of years, until that victim’s memory and identity have been completely consumed. Sometimes, the target’s body survives this ordeal (as yours has, since you are reading this). In time, such a person may establish a ‘bolt-on’ identity of their own, but the Ludovician will eventually catch the scent of this and return to complete its kill. I am sorry if I’m putting this too bluntly.” (Hall, 64).

Your mission/Rules of the Proverbial Board Game: Aided by the other members of the “Unspace Exploration Committee,” namely Scout, Trey Fidorus, and Ian the cat, (who are also, by association, being hunted by the Ludovician and other conceptual fish) the goal of the game is to capture Mr. Nobody’s floppy disk and arrive at the Orpheus Shark hunting vessel to use Nobody’s disk against the Ludovician. You each should take on a code-name and new persona from the popular Disney film “Toy Story.” These false names and personae will help you to avoid being tracked by conceptual fish. Eric will be Woody, Scout will be Dolly, Trey will be Buzz Lightyear, and Ian the cat will be Buttercup. I chose these characters because thinking of Toy Story reminds my of Clio, as the camera she purchased to take underwater images looked just like Buzz Lightyear.

If you reach the end of the board and have stolen Mr. Nobody’s disk containing essential data on Mycroft Ward, you will have an opportunity to destroy both the pernicious forces of new technology, the networked computer persona Mycroft Ward, an immense internet database that controls hundreds of individuals the world over and hopes to subsume human vessels at an exponential rate, as well as an equally dangerous but much older force that is the Ludovician conceptual shark that feeds on words and thoughts. It is only by pitting the old and new technological bodies against one another that you can save the day and regain your old glory. If you fail, your mind (as well as those of your compatriots) will be effectively devoured by the Ludovician and, worse still, Mycroft Ward will take over the world and destroy human civilization as we know it. Mycroft Ward is programmed for self-preservation and rapid growth, and will not stop until it subsumes the entirety of the human race.

It is urgent that you follow my instructions and go straight away. “Do not pass go. Do not explore. Do not collect two hundred pounds” (Hall, 11). You will encounter a number of challenges along the way. You may be attacked by conceptual fish, or worst of all, the Ludovician itself, along the way. Each attack will lower your working memory level by a certain percentage. If your memory level drops below 20%, you will die and will not be able to complete the mission. Your current memory level is 65%. Keep track of this vital statistic as it is essential to keep your memory level above 20% to remain alive. If you land on a proverbial shark fin piece, you must draw a “chance” card and follow the instructions on the card. If you land on a proverbial battery, you are in luck and will regain 5% of your working memory while you power up. There are two stopping points along the way to reaching the Orpheus. The first is a non-divergent conceptual loop that, when you reach it, allows you to regain 10% of your working memory. The second stop is at Mr. Nobody’s computer. When you reach this point, you must grab one of the floppy disks in his computer. If you reach Nobody’s computer on a roll of 3 or higher you get to take a disk and proceed forward. But, if you reach on a roll of 1 or 2 you must move backwards 10 spaces on the board. You shall take turns rolling one die and move according to the number that you roll (i.e. a 3 equals moving 3 spaces ahead on the board).

When you reach the end of the board, you will have one final roll. This roll is very important as it will decide the fate of all humanity. In the materials you will find a ziplock bag with two envelopes in it. If, on your final roll, you roll an even number, open the letter that says “Open only if you roll an even number on your final roll.” Open the other envelope if you roll an odd number on your final roll.

Recommended equipment: I recommend bringing with you on your mission an internet-enabled device (to view the useful links I will relay from time to time over Mycroft Ward’s high-speed Wi-Fi network under a password-protected and top secret folder called The Light Bulb Fragment, digital post cards with advice, as well as the items I have identified in another letter to create the non-divergent conceptual loop. “To the best of my knowledge, no Ludovician, or any conceptual fish, has ever breached a non-divergent conceptual loop. In essence, it will function as a shark cage” (Hall, 66). Refer to page 66 of Hall’s novel for the precise items needed to make the proverbial shark cage.

This is the first in a series of letters I have created to help you complete your difficult mission. You will receive these (often coded) letters at regular intervals and at various points along your journey, in the form of digital post cards that have been encrypted and labeled “the light bulb fragments”, such that when you reach a certain location, you will likely receive a letter with instructions for your next move. This letter is intended to provide you sufficient information to complete your mission. For a more detailed overview, I instruct you to read Steven Hall’s biopic of yours truly, The Raw Shark Texts, and while it may strike you as somewhat bizarre to be reading about me in this fashion, it will no doubt help get you up to speed for the difficult mission ahead.

While this all might seem fantastical and improbable, in time I’m afraid that you will see for yourself that what I am telling you is the truth.

With regret and also hope,

The First Eric Sanderson

Posted: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 3:14:10 AM
Rank: Fry
Groups: Shoal

Joined: 12/4/2012
Posts: 1
Whoa there, buddy. I hope you're getting paid by the word!!

It's a cool idea and I LOVE the photos, but what exactly are you trying to accomplish here? Are you looking to find people who might want to play your game with you? Maybe it would be easier to ask a few of your mates, no...

A couple of clarifying questions about the game...What happens when you reach Mr. Nobody's computer? When do you get a "Light bulb fragment" chance cards? What exactly is the point of the QR codes?
Posted: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 4:49:56 PM
Rank: Fry
Groups: Shoal

Joined: 11/29/2012
Posts: 3
Thanks for the response, girlscout.

My goal in putting this up on the message board is to try to find ways for people who already have some interest in The Raw Shark Texts to engage with the game. I realize that seeing pictures and a description of a board game is not the same as actually being able to play it, but I wanted to see if anyone here might be interested in collaborating on a digital version or have other ideas for how to engage with the game. I have made some of my friends play the game with me, but I think it would be interesting to play it with people who have read the book and understand the story-world.

To clarify, (1) when you reach Mr. Nobody's computer you have to take one of the floppy disks to ultimately use against the Ludovician shark. If you reach Mr. Nobody's computer on a roll of 1 or 2 you have to move back 10 spaces on the board without collecting a floppy disk. If you reach on a 3 or higher you can proceed ahead with a disk. (2) You get a chance card when you land on one of the tiles with a circular shark symbol on it; (3) The QR codes are not really necessary since I also provide links to the videos and images that the game references, but I guess they make it easier to locate these items if you have an internet-enabled phone. I also way toying with the idea of transmediation and thought the QR codes drove that home.

If anyone happens to live in the Raleigh-Durham, NC area (where I am located) and would like to schedule a game night, this could be arranged.
Posted: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 5:03:02 PM
Rank: Fry
Groups: Shoal

Joined: 12/4/2012
Posts: 1
I like this idea. Here are some thoughts. you could probably incorporate these two nuggets into the game somehow, maybe make some more chance cards or something.
1. how a rubik's cube might act in unspace or in the matrix. "there is no cube" peculiar rubik's cube

2. i;m not sure if eric sanderson had a car, but if he did, he probably would have had a DeLorean. Here's where he could buy one.#backtothefuture
Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 1:38:31 AM

Rank: Luxophage
Groups: Shoal

Joined: 5/7/2009
Posts: 123
Location: Sweden
thevampiresquid wrote:
2. i;m not sure if eric sanderson had a car, but if he did, he probably would have had a DeLorean. Here's where he could buy one.#backtothefuture

He has a car. A Yellow Jeep ;)

The First Eric Sanderson wrote:
Take the car keys and drive the yellow Jeep to Dr Randle’s house.
Steven Hall
Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 11:31:17 AM

Rank: Whale Shark
Groups: Shoal , Whale Shark

Joined: 1/24/2009
Posts: 416
Location: UK

How are you getting on with your board game, Purpleshark?
Would love to see more!
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