Play Journal Update

by Thom Kiraly

I haven’t written a whole lot in my Play Journal lately. Actually, a great big chunk of the year has passed and the last thing I did was compile a list of my top ten play experiences of 2013. I’ve had some great experiences so far, for sure, but I haven’t been able to put aside time nor energy to actually write at length about any of them. Time and energy are in short supply, as it is for many of us; I’ve stepped up to working full-time as a project manager (which, in case you didn’t know, always means a bit more than full-time) as well as helping take care of two tiny kids. That’s… why.

As always, I’m writing this more for me than for anyone else, so I really don’t care what you think of my ramblings, but here they are. I will now try to summarize some of the cooler play experiences I’ve had so far. You’re welcome, future list-compiling Thom!

Apocalypse World (January) – crazy campaign just got interesting and then it had to end because one of the players dropped out. Shame. We squeezed some dirty, oozing stuff out of that game while we were at it, though, and I got to confirm what I’ve heard: that Apocalypse World doesn’t really start to sing until maybe session 6 or 7.

Malmö Play Club Club (March 22)- We decided to throw a nightclub but replace the alcohol with play and guess what… it worked beautifully! Four straight hours of play mixed with Danceoke (a first for many, including me) proved to be a great combo. This was the first time that Malmö Play Club charged for an event and our fears that we would scare people off by doing so were swept away by the gusts of love and play that participants brought. I hope and think that this will not be the last of these things we do.

Other Play Club sessions (January – March) – The nightclub experiment was, of course, not the only Play Club session I attended since I last wrote. We’ve been steadily growing in numbers and have even been visited by journalists and photographers. Malmö Play Club isn’t going away, it seems, and I’m very happy about that.

Human Agency playtests (February and March) – It’s really a privilege to get the chance to be part of the development process of this interesting a thing. I really like how Nyxxx are pushing for the uncomfortable, excluding and strange in this one. It’s not extreme in any sense, but it has more of these aspects than the previous Avatar iterations I’ve been part of. A thing I wasn’t expecting was how much of my apparent willingness to take orders it shines a light on. The tension is not only in the interplay between the avatars and the humans but also the avatar player’s own code of behavior and the commands issued through the headphones. More to come on this as the final playtests start next week and the piece premieres shortly thereafter.

A Drift: Playtests (late March) – The first collaboration of a group called Research in Applied Living, of which I make up one third. A lot of the concept was in place at the time, but I appreciate the amount of playstorming that actually went on throughout the process of getting the concept ready for application to w00t 2014. Not only did it work, but in the very first playtest we managed to touch on what I think my partners in play would call the sublime. Bodies flat against the asphalt, staring up at a ten-story building and the clear blue sky above while listening to an ambient and dreamy soundscape… I wasn’t expecting that, but that’s what I was given and I’m thankful for it. More on this one as well, since there will be more playtests and eventually (hopefully) one or more serious runs at w00t and Otherspace.

There. I’m saving some stuff for a Knutpunkt/A Week in Gothenburg post I hope I’ll manage to write up really soon, but here’s a list of other stuff I’ve played since entering 2014:

MOBILE
Super HexagonBit PilotThreesCircle StopFlappy BirdNight SkyCool Pizza, Snek

PC
Konstnärsspelet and it’s English translation Artist Survival SimulatorGods Will Be WatchingRustPapo Y Yo, The Walking DeadNidhoggSamurai GunnPapers PleaseLuftrausers, The Stanely Parable, The Rapture Is Here And You Will Be Forcibly Removed From Your Home, Triad, One.

LIVE/PHYSICAL
Play Club Stuff: Chip Chipoi!; Korven; Hug Tag; Monsters and Critters; Fruit Salad; Capture the Flag; Personal Ads; Vampire; Sound Meme; Sound and the Fury; Knee Slapping Game; Screamless; Murderous Handshake; RPS Tag; Spiral Hug; Everybody’s It Freeze TagWord, Sound, Movement; Echo-hi; Slomo hi-fives; Giants,Goblins and Wizards; Human Compressor; Rain.

Other stuff: JS Joust, Peeker Seeker (Tiny Game), Squeaky Pickle (Sesame Street Tiny Game), GeoCaching.

CONSOLE
Little BigPlanetGTA V.

TABLETOP
Make You Gunfighters, Stone Age, Carcasonne, Uno Spin, Werewolf hack playtest

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