There’s an old proverb that says, “A pack of cards is the devil’s prayer-book.” Indie video game designer Jason Rohrer has taken the ancient link between games and dark forces to heart and has based his new gambling app on various occult-ish influences.
Cordial Minuet is Rohrer’s 18th game project and he has high hopes that it will be extremely profitable, because by using a loophole in the law, it’s essentially a legal form of online gambling. The law in the U.S. defines gambling as “any activity which consists of chance, prize, and consideration.” While Rohrer’s two-person online strategy game includes betting money that you will beat your opponent, he claims it’s entirely a game of skill — not chance — so he should be within his rights.
As Rohrer researched the history of games played for money, he found that divination rituals and games of chance were basically invented side by side; it’s difficult to determine which came first. Tarot decks — which almost everyone associates with psychics and the occult today –began as a card game. Likewise, rolling dice also began as a way of determining the will of the Gods.
This led Rohrer to base the aesthetic of his game and certain principles on the occult. The name, for example, is an anagram for “demonic ritual.” The board is made of up of a six-by-six grid of squares that contain numbers. The sum of each row or column is 111. Multiply that by the number of rows or columns and you get 666.
The gameplay is not too different from Texas Hold ‘Em: players are trying to make strategic decisions based on their opponents actions. Here, each player is trying to divine what the others’ game board looks like based on probabilities.
While that seems a hell of a lot like a game of chance, Rohrer insists it’s entirely skill based. If something like Fantasy Football counts as a legal way of betting (which it does), his game certainly should as well. The designer has successfully served as his own attorney before, and he’s confident he’ll be victorious if he runs into trouble this time. He tells Motherboard:
I’m as confident as an amateur lawyer can be, I guess. I’m not saying that there’s loads of precedent. There’s never been a game like this, which is part of the reason why I’m making it.
The game is still being tested and refined so the biggest question has yet to be answered: Is it any fun? Based on his previous work, we’re betting it is.
(Photo: Jason Rohrer)