Rap Rap Revolution
by Yotam Gingold
Movies of the game in action (the awful chop and stutter are artifacts of the video capture).
Slideshow of the game in action
Name of Game
Rap Rap Revolution
Description of Game (300 words or less).
A game of battle rap where two opponents face off (a la Street Fighter) but touch each other with their words, not with their fists. Players first choose a persona and a strategic set of words. They then take turns (30 seconds each) rapping about their clear superiority over their opponent. The game is musical and lyrics are written in real-time. Rapping takes the form of filling in blanks in a battle rap "mad lib" by choosing from a suggested set of words. Suggested words are conceptually related to the player's strategic set and to previous selections. Furthermore, suggested words rhyme according to the 3rd Dirty South Edition of the Atlanta Rules of Rap. OK, such a book doesn't exist, but I still try to distill phonetic rules of rapping rhyme as best I can.
A blank may specify constraints on words suggested for filling it. A blank can require a specific part of speech (noun, verb, adjective, adverb). Other types of constraints, such as "all suggestions for this blank must be kinds of animals," are possible (trivially so, thanks to WordNet) though currently unimplemented.
Scoring is social. Spectators make noise when they like what they hear (the game pronounces the lyrics). The player with the most audience support (noise) wins.
Conceptual relationships between words come from WordNet. Standard pronunciations come from the CMU Pronouncing Dictionary. Rap templates (the mad libs) are derived from lyrics spoken by real rappers (an exercise in fair use -- this is an educational project). Background loops and sprites are stolen outright from copyrighted music and games (also fair use!).
Explanation of how the core gameplay is experimental (30 words or less).
Rap Rap Revolution is a real-time song writing game. Players produce content. Games like "Parappa the Rapper" begin and end with rhythm matching.
Give more detail on the gameplay experiment you are performing (take as much space as you need here). Why is this experiment important? What does it bring to games that is not already ubiquitous?
The core gameplay experiment is making real-time lyric authoring, however constrained, into a fun and competitive game. When playing Rap Rap Revolution, players author a rap song which has never been heard before. By guiding and limiting players, Rap Rap Revolution turns creative expression into a game. The tension is in guiding the players to create good lyrics without taking away the sense of authorship. More generally, Rap Rap Revolution is a poke in the potential genre of games where players have to create something in a given medium (constrained in some way to be a game). Less generally, Rap Rap Revolution is trying to push musical games beyond Simon Says.
How will you know whether the experiment is a success? What problems and limitations might arise? What do these limitations mean for future incarnations of this kind of gameplay?
In Rap Rap Revolution, players must feel like they're writing rap music that works. The game is successful if the lyrics appear real, fun, or even funny to players and spectators. The game fails if lyrics just don't make sense. The game also fails if players feel no creative control over their lyrics. For bicycle riding, this problem is solved by training wheels: you steer but can't fall.
Finding a solution is hard due to the complexity of language. Grammar, good word suggestions, and also computer scoring (measuring the quality of text) are hard. Similar problems would appear if the medium were changed from language to painting. Giving a player any degree of freedom implies that there cannot be one right answer. I hope that Rap Rap Revolution can provide instructive solutions to these problems.
--- last updated February 15, 2005 http://yotamgingold.com/RapRapRevolution/