Matchmaker is a two-player, cooperative tabletop game based around the themes of love and romance. Matchmaker is capable of recognizing when its players are holding hands, and it uses hand-holding a core gameplay mechanic.
The world of Matchmaker is filled with small, round-headed people called "Peeps". The Peeps are a simple bunch; all that they want out of life is to love, and to be loved in return. Unfortunately, the Peeps are a helpless bunch, so they need some benevolent matchmakers to speed the process along. Players must work together to match up compatible Peeps and spread love throughout the land. But they will have to act quickly; if a Peep remains single for too long, he or she will become depressed and lovelorn. Only one thing can restore hope to a lovelorn Peep: it's up to the players to join hands, and share the Power of Love!
At it's core, Matchmaker is a simple color-matching game. Players can "grab" a Peep by touching it with their finger and then drag it to any place on the screen. When two players drag their selected Peeps together, a match will be created if the two Peeps are "compatible" (that is, if they have the same color and opposite genders). Peeps which are not matched up within a certain amount of time will become "lovelorn". Lovelorn Peeps turn grey and cannot be matched up with any other Peep. Although players can temporarily afford to ignore lovelorn Peeps, over time more and more of the Peep population will become lovelorn, making it extremely difficult to create further matches. However, there is a cure! Players can restore a lovelorn Peep's color through the "Power of Love". Players can activate the Power of Love by making physical, skin-on-skin contact with their partner - typically through holding hands - and having either player tap the affected Peep.
Matchmaker is - by far - the most popular game I have ever designed and it is also the game of which I am most proud. Though Matchmaker's game mechanics are exceedingly simple, it's presentation and unique hand-holding interface combine to make a game that people truly enjoy. One of the things I really like about Matchmaker is the way it integrates three intertwined themes. These themes are:
- Love & Romance: At its core, Matchmaker is a game about finding love. The game is even named after the practice of arranging a romantic coupling between two people. Love is also a visual motif in Matchmaker; hearts and warm, red colors (which connote love and passion) are sprinkled liberally throughout the game. But this theme also extends outside the game; Matchmaker provides a social setting where hand-holding is encouraged. My goal was for Matchmaker's players to bond with their partners as they hold hands and played together.
- Touch: In Matchmaker, all interaction is accomplished through some form of touch. Whether through a player touching a Peep to select it, or two players holding hands to activate the Power of Love, touch provides an easy, natural way for players to interact with the game and with each other.
- Cooperation: In Matchmaker, a single player alone cannot win the game. Players must work together with their partners in order to match up Peeps and to invoke the Power of Love. The most successful Matchmaker players are the ones who have learned to communicate with their partner and to anticipate their partner's actions. The theme of cooperation complements Matchmaker's romantic theme; by herself, a single player is powerless, but when she cooperates with her partner, together, they can accomplish anything.