Beyond the Pixels: Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

“NO, WAIT!  Did you say it has two blue wires, one white, and two yellow?”

“YES, that’s what I said!  15 seconds!”

“Okay, okay – wait…hold on…I swear I saw it right here…”

“WE’RE GONNA BL-”

Boom.

Keep Talking & Nobody Explodes (KT&NE for short) fills a unique place in gaming – it’s got all the hallmarks of a board game, but it’s generally played with a printed paper manual and a computer (or a VR headset, if you have one of those).  KT&NE is a game where one player, sitting at a computer, has a virtual bomb that they must defuse based on their teammates instructions who are looking at the bomb defusal manual.  The bomb defuser (the person at the computer) has to describe the bomb in detail to get their defusal team to figure out where in the manual they need to be looking.  The game starts off with easy bombs – just one or two things that need to be figured out, perhaps – and progressively get more difficult, with multiple modules that you have to solve and environmental issues, like the lights flickering in and out.

This game is hilariously social and played well with a group of four of us.  Three people pored over the manual while another sat at the computer, describing the bomb as best they could without really knowing what they needed to be describing to get us to the information we were looking for.  Eventually, some shorthand was created regarding certain symbols – “There’s a smiley tongue face, a jacked up 3, and Tim Bob!” – but since puzzles are procedurally generated, you never know what the level is really going to throw at you.  It’s fun if you, as the person defusing the bomb, regularly update your team with the countdown timer until the bomb explodes.  It heightens the anxiety and sense of impending doom!  Of course, strategically, this isn’t the best way to go…but it’s fun.

If you do happen to defuse the bomb before it goes off, it saves your best time and you can try to beat the record.  This allows for rivalry and bragging rights, especially if you decide to make this a part of your regular teen game programming.  Additionally, with two copies of the game on two computers, two manuals, and two teams of at least 3 or 4, you could run a competition between two bomb defusal teams!

Really, this game seems like it’ll be a slam dunk for teens.  A social game with competitive elements, uses computers, and involves shouting instructions at each other?  Instant win.  If you end up buying this game and running it at your library, let us know how it goes in the comments!

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