Digital Open Winners: Australian Teen Crafts "Sneaky" Games

Institute for the Future teamed up with Sun Microsystems and Boing Boing Video to co-host the Digital Open, an online tech expo for teens 17 and under around the world.

We're publishing an 8-part series of videos profiling the winners. Today, meet 16 year old Harry Lee of Melbourne Australia. He talks with us about his "Sneaky Card" game concept, which explores social interactions between people. He was inspired by ARG and indie projects like "Bite Me," by Gamelab, and Jane McGonigal's Top Secret Dance-Off, both of which we've covered previously on Boing Boing.

"I love index cards," says Harry, "And I was thinking -- hmm, how can I incorporate them into a project?" So he designed and printed these game cards, and "spread the seeds of sneakiness and espionage" into the unsuspecting pockets, math books, binders and bags and jackets of his schoolmates.

I tracked most of the cards and found, with much satisfaction, that a majority of them had been passed down at least three times. The most successful story is of the card passed from student to student three times before ending up in a math teacher's jacket. The teacher found it and gave it to another math teacher, who inserted it into a student's corrected test before giving it back to him. The card passed hands once again before I lost track of it.
Below, some sample cards in Harry's game. (Link to PDF). More after the jump.



  1. That’s FABULOUS.

    As much as I like electronic gaming (and have seen it yield great results in library settings) a game based around social play, conversation, imagination is just wonderful.

    And Harry has a better outlook on life and games than many people twice or three-times his age. Congratulations!

  2. Wow, Harry Lee is a very well spoken kid. His philosophy is more mature than most adults I know. Kudos to you Mr. Lee. I expect I’ll be hearing your name again before long.

  3. Come on boing boingers, lets get some more ideas for cards. Here’s mine, convince someone to give you their coat (or barring that other article of clothing), then give them this card.

  4. @Xopher He was inspiring, compassionate, and cogent. He damn well blew my mind!

    When we were doing the interview, there were some really “churchy” moments — the kid has true vision. I hope he has wonderful success in life.

  5. Hey Harry shoot me an email SeanMacConway a.t I think you have something here we can bring to the US. You have it man, keep up the great work and shoot me an email

  6. Thanks everyone for your approbation, it’s really encouraging! I greatly appreciate the feedback.

    A huge thank-you to Xeni and the amazing Boing Boing Video team for the interview – I had a blast. Thanks also go to the Institute For The Future, Sun Microsystems, and everybody involved in making the Digital Open possible.

    (Finally, thanks to TheWillow for making me lose the game… Grr!)

    1. Harry, my great admiration! Best of luck in your future endeavors; the world needs a lot more people like you.

  7. Thank you Harry – this really got me thinking.
    And… how about ‘Sneaky Mail’ – A card that asks each owner to pass it on until it reaches a nominated person in a particular town or community. e.g. “Sarah Jane : Oxford,UK Craft Fairs”. The winner is the one who can finally present the card.

  8. Nothing but positive feedback. Now, is that because everybody liked it or because any negative comments were removed?

    1. Well, this sixteen year old summed up the most fundamental, positive, and inspiring philosophy of life in just a few sentences, and also invented a game that sounds like great fun to boot, a game that will actually add to your life instead of taking away from it.

      If there are no negative comments, maybe it’s because we aren’t all curmudgeons after all..

      1. zyodei: If there are no negative comments, maybe it’s because we aren’t all curmudgeons after all..

        Maybe it is, but given that negative comments and even neutral questions were removed without explanation from a similar thread, maybe it’s not.

  9. Think about that kind of imagination combined with the freedom of self-publishing that can be found in Lulu, or The Game Crafter.

  10. Harry, you may want to consider self-publishing this game through The Game Crafter. They let you upload your graphics and then print as many (or as few) copies as you want. The best part is that you can activate your product on their online store and it will be available to a worldwide audience. Since everything is print-on-demand, you don’t have to order 500 copies of your game or anything. They print and ship it for you. Pretty slick service and seems like it could be a good option for you.

  11. Harry, I have a question for you: how did you get to be so wise at such an early age? I know lots of people many times your age who haven’t got that kind of compassionate wisdom.

  12. We had a similar game, but it consisted of only one card: the AWK card. If you possess the card, and you are in a social situation where someone says one of those completely awkward statements that stops all conversation and has people looking at each other awkwardly, rescue the situation (or dig it in even deeper) by presenting the speaker with the AWK card.

    They, then, can only get rid of it the next time someone says something completely awkward.

  13. This seems a great idea, i have 100 people turning up for an elearning event tomorrow, and will try and modify some of these for that!

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