Play Journal: December 2 – 15

by Thom Kiraly

It’s getting harder to keep up with these things. It’s not that I’m playing a whole lot, it’s that I’m working and doing that whole family thing everyone’s raving about. Right now, I’m mostly gearing up towards my planned top ten list. Top ten play experiences of 2013. That’s going to be crazy. If you can’t wait, you can just go back and read ALL OF THE PLAY JOURNAL ENTRIES and the top ten will probably be in there somewhere. Also, if you can’t wait for my top ten list I’d like to ask you something: have you sought professional help? I’m just concerned, is all.

Proust – Kill Screen recommends and I follow, as per usual. This rating (“best to worst”) game has a certain charm to it, but it really sings once you start making your own lists. Some players have already delighted me by asking me to rate stuff like rpg conventions and I’ve answered in turn by asking them to rate the following numbers: 1337, 42, 24/7, , 420, 1488.
I have a hard time spamming people about it on Facebook, but I do hope that more people give it a try. I’m curious to see what people come up with on their own.

Malmö Play Club – Evolutionary Rock-Paper-Scissors (MMRPS (Massively Multiplayer Rock Paper Scissors)) where everyone starts out as an amoeba and advance to crocodile, monkey, clown ,and circus director in turn. You’re only allowed to challenge people sharing your evolutionary status and if you lose, you devolve. Naturally, I ended up as an amoeba. Just like in real life.), Danish Clapping Game (we tried the multiplayer version. I… think I explained the rules properly.), Sun and Moon (aka. a good excuse to run around in circles yelling “No, Stop! Stop! Stand still!”), Tape Worm.

Drei – ios variant of tic tac toe. I’m getting my ass kicked by the CPU, but I don’t really care until I try it against another player. It has potential.

OmnicronTapping away, the moments that make up a dull day.


Apocalypse World – So, here’s some good news: I’m finally getting somewhere with an Apocalypse World game! This time, I get to play a PC and I try to use that to push the other players a bit where it is needed. I guess this is the first time I play it in a group where everyone’s read the rules and has a good to very good understanding of how things are supposed to work. Apocalypse only really works as long as the players give the MC something to work with, so I view it as my duty and privilege to try to meet that demand, and I think the other players are as well.
In honor of the massive storm that was raging as we played our first session, I named my skinner Storm. The skinner playbook is really a lot more powerful than I’d thought. Granted, all PCs are powerful in their own right, but skinners seem to be able to matter to people a lot. This means I get to play up both the manipulative and heartfelt sides of the character at the same time. Taking some notes from the blog Play Passionately, I’m trying to really push for interesting and human motivations and needs. That said, I still have a hard time figuring out just what my character wants, apart from practicing his art and being awfully hot and desired in general. We’re only two sessions in, so I guess it’ll reveal itself somehow. In the meantime, I try to meddle in everyone else’s business. So far, that’s working out just fine.

Clown – Invited an old friend over to play this overlooked gem in Swedish board game design. It mashes up a lot of techniques and mechanics from other games without bogging it down or making it all too confusing. As usual when it comes to boardgames, V kicked my ass and stole the win.

Pretentious Game – It may be pretentious, but there are some lovely moments in this little game. I played the iOS version and went to bed late because I wanted to finish it. Some great examples of mechaphors and interactive storytelling.

Radial Runner – If a game is likened to Super Hexagon, I’ll try it. I know I’ll always be a bit disappointed and that is the case with Radial Runner as well. I feel that the game gets in the way of itself and that sense of vertigo and trance I can get from Super Hexagon is made impossible by the interruptions presented by the waves and by the rigid way you move through the game space. I know it’s unfair to not like a game only because it’s not some other game, but still…


Avatar Playtest – I am lucky to know people who make cool game/theatre/artsy stuff as it often lets me partake in these wonderful things. This weekend, for example,I had the pleasure of testing some short avatar situations by Nyxxx. As always, a playtest is not something to get overly excited about, but in the case of these avatar things I always get giddy as soon as I put a pair of headphones on and let the voice found in them be my guide. What stuck with me was the test we did of a situation meant to be part of a larger work, somewhat inspired by a political text that affected me deeply and on a very personal level when I read it: The Coming Insurrection. The simple act of being part of a group enacting and reciting things inspired by that text was sufficient to give me goose bumps. In this particular instance, the text alluded to this passage of the book:

They want to make our self something sharply defined, separate, assessable in terms of qualities, controllable, when in fact we are creatures among creatures, singularities among similarsliving flesh weaving the flesh of the world. Contrary to what has been repeated to us since childhood, intelligence doesn’t mean knowing how to adapt – or if that is a kind of intelligence, it’s the intelligence of slaves. Our inadaptability, our fatigue, are only problems from the standpoint of what aims to subjugate us. They indicate rather a departure point, a meeting point, for new complicities. They reveal a landscape more damaged, but infinitely more sharable than all the fantasy lands this society maintains for its purposes.