The Great British Shake Off

by @edent | # #

This weekend, I spotted that a chap I know was running a Shakespeare themed GameJam – a sort of informal collection/competition arranged around a theme.

Given my previous experience developing Interactive Fiction, I figured I’d spend my Saturday building a simple game.

So, here – literally hours in the making – I present to you “The Great British Shake Off!


Here’s how we made it. Step one, hit the books!

Shakespeare Books

My wife and I quickly came up with an idea. A demented game show with impossible questions – where every move is a wrong answer and is met with a Shakespearean insult.

So, as an example, are there two separate characters in two separate plays which say the same line?

It turns out that the Bard of Avon was not fond of a cliché! Trying to find duplicate lines throughout the plays was a bit of a challenge! A few years ago I released an Open Source Shakespeare MySQL dump but that didn’t help much.

In the end, I just grepped through the works looking for common – and uncommon – phrases. It was pretty successful and we ended up with half a dozen interesting(ish) repeated phrases we could use.

As a host for this terrible torture, we thought the avuncular Stephen Fry would be perfect. A few years ago, my friend Documentally had taken this photo of Fry posing with a demon. With a little bit of shoddy photo editing we had some cover art!


With Liz looking through famous insults and gruesome death scenes, and me franticly trying to piece them into a semi-coherent story, it didn’t take us long to complete our game. Teamwork!

So if you want to test your knowledge of Ol’ Billy S – play “The Great British Shake Off!

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