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Plugged In

What’s in the cube? Experimental game unveils ‘life-changing’ secret

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(Credit: 22Cans)

Peter Molyneux is more than a legendary video game developer. It turns out he's also equal parts Willy Wonka and Ryan Seacrest.

Six months ago, Molyneux released an experimental game named Curiosity to the app store . The game was simply a giant virtual cube that millions of players could pick away at. Molyneux teased that the cube held a "life-changing" prize for the lucky person who reached the center. This weekend, that prize was revealed: God status in Molyneux's next game, Godus. And the winner was an 18-year old from Edinburgh, Scotland.

God status in games might not seem like a big deal. After all, Molyneux has made players into gods for years (he invented the God-game genre with 1989’s Populous and expanded it with 2001’s Black and White). But in the case of Bryan Henderson, it's a bit different. Because he picked away at the final cubelet in Curiosity (there were 25 billion in total), he now gets to introduce his own rules and morality into Godus. And those rules will affect all of the other players.

Henderson also gets some earthly treasures for winning Curiosity - a cut of each sale made in Godus.

Over 4 million people downloaded Curiosity - and when the final cubelet was tapped, 30,000 were playing simultaneously. Henderson got the job done, though.

You might think after the game had been out this long, it would be only the true die-hard fans who were left playing.

Nope, Henderson was a newbie.

"People are going to hate me for this, but I only registered for the game earlier this morning, about an hour before I won the thing," he told Wired.

Exactly how Henderson will influence other players in Godus remains to be seen. Molyneux, who announced the prize in a video after Henderson took out the last cubelet, said his studio 22Cans would be in touch.

Giving a single player this sort of control of a gaming universe is something that has never been attempted before. It fits in with Molyneux's experimentation philosophy (he has long called Curiosity an experiment), and builds on the role of community in games.

The question is: Will Henderson's influence make the game a better experience - or is this the biggest license to troll the industry has ever seen?

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