12 February 2007

Draft: Game for Josh's Girlfriend

This is what I jotted down for Josh in the 20 minutes before I fell asleep last night. I don't really have a title for it yet, but I'm thinking about While You're Far Away or maybe Islands in the Stream.

This is a game for two players.

The players assume the roles of two characters who have a close relationship with each other. They could be lovers or siblings or a parent/child or old friends or childhood sweethearts or whatever. The nature of the relationship is left up to the players.

The characters are separated for a period of time and are regularly writing letters to each other to maintain contact. This is also open to interpretation by the players. Perhaps they are new lovers separated for 24 hours and are obsessively writing email after email to each other. Perhaps one character's parent is off fighting in the war and may not be home for years (if at all).

In any case, play is structured paragraphically, which is to say: each paragraph in a letter is an attempt to do three things...

1) Respond to a paragraph written by the other player.
2) Introduce new information about your current situation.
3) Elicit a response from the other player by attempting to relate your current situation to their experiences and feelings.

It is my hope that, in taking on this structure, the letters will seem to flow pretty naturally, since these three things are common elements in letter writing and communication generally, and especially when it comes to writing to loved ones who are far away.

For example, a paragraph might read:
    I regret to hear that Old Sadie has finally passed on. I swear I thought that dog would outlive all of us. They keep us so busy out here, but I did take a minute to walk off by myself and think of that little puppy I brought home to you seven years ago and I'm not ashamed to admit that it brought a tear to my eye. I'm sorry I won't be there to help you bury her, but you should see if one of the neighbors won't come over to lend a hand and maybe a shoulder to cry on, since I know how much you loved Sadie.
So, following our structure guidelines, this breaks down into:

1) Responding to the news that the dog, Sadie, has died.
2) Describing what the character did upon receiving the news.
3) Offering sympathy and suggestions on how to handle things.

Now, generally speaking, each letter is going to be composed of multiple paragraphs. There's no set guidelines for how many paragraphs each letter should have, and you can respond using a larger or smaller number of paragraphs than the letter you received, either by not responding to certain topics, by combining multiple responses into a single paragraph, or by introducing multiple new subjects inspired by a single paragraph or scrap of information sent your way.

For some players, it may be important to remember that anything written in the letters is considered to be true, or at least an honest reporting of events from the letter writer's point of view. Now, there is the possibility that the letter writers may be fabricating events or trying to hide their true feelings about something or making up more pleasant events to cover up embarrassing or disturbing things. For example, a parent off in the war may only report pleasant experiences to their child.

So I'm thinking about coming up with guidelines for those ulterior motives and also a set of alternate types of responses, similar to the alternate responses in Kazekami Kyoko Kills Kublai Khan. Perhaps writers can disagree with or suggest alternate interpretations of the information that is put forward. But anyway, there's the basic core of the game.

5 Comments:

Blogger Josh said...

This looks excellent so far. I'm very curious to see how you embellish this to bring it to the next level of awesome.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Mo said...

LOL!

Jonathan, get out of my brain.

8:41 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Walton said...

But I like it. Besides, I'm sick of being in Shreyas' brain.

8:43 PM  
Blogger Mo said...

Oh. Yeah, I could see why.

Alright, you can stay a *while*. But don't go getting anything clean.

11:32 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Walton said...

I think cleaning anything up would take more than a while. I mean, look what you've done to the place.

12:34 AM  

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