Saturday the last real day of Fastaval, (sunday is mostly given over to the big otto party.) I had just one game: “Things that happen to other people”, a game by Tor Kjetil whom you may remember from “Just a little lovin” and “I say a little prayer,” (which I played at last years Fastaval, read about that here (again in Danish sorry).)
It was this years most emotional experience, which I had not expected from a storytelling game with a lot of breaks and shifts in style. (Flow is something I’m beginning to find really interesting (as I’ve mentioned in some of the other posts). To give instructions in roleplay, you have to stop the flow, so strong games tend to be games where the flow isn’t interrupted or it is interrupted in a gentle way, like Deranged does, or like most black box games do.
The game is, well I wouldn’t say complex, but it does have a lot of elements, and the style switches a lot. That’s one of it’s strong points, the way the storytelling works, differs from scene to scene, but that also means that the game flow is interrupted many times for new instructions on each scene.
My group also had the problem of a player who liked the spotlight, and wasn’t so good at giving it away and a bit to good at grabbing it from others, which is unfortunate in a game that has some clear instruction on how each scene must run. If we are instructed to have a scene where someone tells a story and then afterwards everyone adds their own thoughts and versions to it in character, it’s not a good idea to interrupt that story within the first 30 seconds. Respect the meta-rules man!
The problem was, I think, that he wanted an immersive game, where the goals and feelings of the character was the guiding stick. But that just isn’t this game, yes you are supposed to feel and immerse, but more than that: be part of the shared storytelling.
In Lasses description of the game, he also points out, that the character description apparently encourages this behavior. A few meta pointers in the character could properly help, (you might want to do this and that, but it would help the game if you held back once a while or do it in this less disrupted way).
But enough whining, as I said even with all this, it was still an amazing game, I shudder to imagine what the game would be like with more focus on flow and a less intrusive player. That being said for my experience a lot of it came from the other two players being really good, and the intrusive one wasn’t bad, just not a good group player. (Although some of those strong scenes really also do pack a punch), As I’ll talk more about in part two).
So “Things that happen to other people” is a game where you follow four refugees in a fictional modern country torn apart by civil war (*cough*Syria*cough* sorry about that). The scenes often have a strict storytelling part and a more freeform larp part, and the two sort of interacts, sometimes a scene would start with storytelling that then would graduate into freeplay, or the story telling would pop up once in a while. It was a very cool form, and a great way of using storytelling, but requires concentration from all involved.
The focus was very much that the characters experience hardship but also told each other stories about others in similar situations, as a way of reflection on their situation. Did that work, I don’t know. As I said I had a powerful experience, but i’m not quite sure it came from that element, or just a good group or from the fact that it’s a very strong story with some thought elements in it, (properly a mix).
I ended up writing a lot about this game, so this is only the first part, the next will focus on my in game experience and the insights that game me. It’s even longer than this one, so yay!