At Fastaval there’s always someone who doesn’t show up for the games they have signed up for. I’ve done it myself, if I have no energy. For that we have the reserve que, were people who wants to play can show up and get one of the spots that aren’t filled.
I didn’t have any games friday evening and one of the games I really wanted to play, but hatten’t gotten a spot on was running that evening. So I got a number for the que nice and early and hoped to get a spot on Room, and luckily I got that, so I went to play that game.
Room kinda does the same as my own game “The Courage of Teddys.” It takes a child’s viewpoint on something very serious, in Rooms case one of those horrible long term kidnappings and especially the difficulty of helping a child that has never seen the outside of his little room, when the horror is finally over.
It kinda have much of the same feel as the film Mary and Max, where a lot of very dark things happen, but you still end up laughing between the tears and in the end it’s still a feeling of beauty you have inside. Very strange.
The language of the game is childish and simple and because a child can’t comprehend the horrendous situation, he is in, the horrible details are left unsaid and just hinted at, which almost makes them worse. Because then we can just imagine them.
The first half of Room is played in Old Nicks shed, (thats Room). Old nick took Mom and placed her there when she was 17, after some years Jack was born. Jack has many friends in Room, there’s: Closet (where he sleeps at night), Bed (that creaks when Old nick visits in the night) Carpet With Stain On) and so on. One player plays Room and can interact with Jack, talk to him and even move him around and move the objects he is interacting with.
Room is kind of Jacks invisible friend very much like Calvin and Hobbs. Room is real for Jack but for everyone else He’s talking to the furniture and messing things up, “But mom it was Pensel that didn’t want to write numbers.”
One player plays Jack the whole game, and the game is really about him, the same way the game is about the wives in Distance. But the other three characters shift in the second act, where Jack is at the crisis center trying to come to terms with his new surroundings.
In the first act I played Old Nick, which was just as hard as playing the dad in Tilbagefald (Relapse, which I wrote about here: In danish though). But he had an interesting meta technique: He could enter and leave the playing area as He felt like, (the Room, which we had designed our self, both by narrating about it but also by physically building it, btw another cool thing)
It’s a small but important distinction. Normally you have a responsibility to time when you come and go, but here it was presented as a power. You were encouraged to increase the pressure on the players by appearing more and more often, but it was a power not a responsibility, which was scary as shit. One scene I just went in and stood there for a minute, watching, just being a pressens. Oh and btw: He also decided when the act ended by taking Jack out of Room.
In the second act the player playing Mom is now Social Worker, Old Nick (me) is New Room and Room is Mom. Where Rooms job in the first act was to support Jack and keep him safe New Rooms job was to be a counterweight to Jack. When he was moving forward I should push him back, make life difficult for him, show how he just couldn’t adapt to New Room. But if he was sad I could chose to have sympathy with him, and support him.
The small brilliance is that Old Nick and New Room are both kind of the pressure players, the ones that move the game forward, but in New Room you have the ability to also be nice, and I needed that after playing Old Nick and being a bastard.
We had a great game with a very beautiful ending, that I would love to keep on telling about, but it’s already too long, and war stories are only fun for us players.
After the game more late night talking. I remember a lot of conversations, but when they happened I don’t know, it’s all a blur. Oh yes now I remember: my whole group went to the bar and just talked and talked and at some point the author arrived and humbly asked if she could listen, we shouted “yes!” and continued to praise her game and tell and retell war stories. As another author I know how wonderful an experience that is.
But I began to feel tired and when other players from other groups join the conversation and told about their games, that been much more cruel, I left. I didn’t want my experience sullied. I decided to go home, but on the way bumped into Kroll, one of the original Fastaval people, and a general from the ancient times (at least it feels like that) who convinced me to go to the after party at the hostel, so I ended up getting home even later. But it was good.