I tried Dungeons & Dragons once in college. It was fun, but not what I was looking for at the time. These days, I think I missed out on something big. Hold that thought.

Another idea I had a while back was that if one could invent a game simple enough to be played over text messages, the market size would be truly global. Execution on a business that large has zero appeal to me, but I never forgot the idea of trying to create a simple game over SMS.

The big idea

Why not combine a micro-RPG experience and SMS texting? Think “choose your own adventure” with a DM (storyteller) on the other end of the chat. The core game loop is Story, Choice, and Resolution.

After some noodling, I came up with an MVP. I named it “SMS RPG” and even got a new number to use exclusively for the game. I wrote up a rough framework for the first adventure (Episode 1: The Lost Memories) and ran a pilot project with an unsuspecting friend. The adventure consisted of 2 texts every day: a Choice in the morning and the Resolution in the evening. There was plenty of Story mixed in. I would also include a little sketch with the Resolution.

The results of the pilot program were mixed. Personally, I had a blast. I loved coming up with the story every day and drawing the illustrations. I think I might have been having a lot more fun than the player. He kind of lost interest around day 7 (of 10). I was bummed. I didn’t tell him this but the final deliverable from the adventure was going to be a larger physical illustration depicting the entire story. Maybe that would have been a motivator – and maybe not.

That said, I think there is a nugget here so I’m going to run another pilot program.

If you have any thoughts about this idea, let me know.

From my kitchen to yours,