PRAYERS ON A PORCELAIN ALTAR, AKA WHAT THE HELL ARE WE SUPPOSED TO BE DOING? (UNDERSTANDING GAMES, LARP REVIEW)
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So we are all laying around on the cold floor or hard tables of the game design lab in TAIK Media Lab, Helsinki Finland. Half of us read the rules for the game and others just got the gist of the part they had to play. Each person had a character sheet describing their personality, what they did last night and how they felt about the current situation. Fortunately for me my character was exactly who I am in real life so all I had to do was just act natural. Supposedly waking up with really bad hangovers we find out that we are in someone’s house after a crazy party, maybe celebrating the end of entrance exams to a theater school we are all trying to get into. One of us finds a bloody bed and we are all so nauseous that we don’t dare go anywhere but the bathroom.
We laid there till one of the characters finally broke the silence and mumbled something I have long forgotten. After a few minutes of a really confusing discussion, she got up went upstairs, then hurried back, warning us of the bloody bed upstairs that none of us would be able to go to. So here we all began to try to move the game forward. My character’s job was supposed to be the realistic one, and move the group forward to solve the problem, but at the same time I had realized that I had sex with someone last night and was hoping that I didn’t kill anyone. The thing that was even more awkward was that there were only two other females playing the game and none of them seemed to have gotten laid last night. So I had a sinking feeling I had sex with one of the guys, or the person that I did actually sleep with was one of the characters that we did not pick. Or could I be the killer?
From here, it was pretty much confusion, all of us trying to force ourselves to attack the other character’s morals, etc. Hoping that we could turn up the killer, if there really was one. Unfortunately this never happened. A few people got up to go to the bathroom room and when they left, no one said anything special which I had assumed was a perfect time for us to gossip to find out what was going on, but alas things just drudged along. No one really finding anything out and after about ninety minutes of just sheer force and confusion the story never got anywhere. We were all just as confused as when we had begun.
I believe the main problems were that we all knew each other fairly well, and just had too much trouble really trying to attack each other to the point that something might have probably happened. It would have been nice to have some type of moderator, someone that knew the bigger picture and tried to help us along, but alas we just basically ran around in circles until people finally gave up and decided to leave. Afterwards we discussed the event and also read all of the sheets, hoping to find out who did what and still we were lost and confused into exactly what was supposed to happen and where we were supposed to go. What was the final outcome supposed to be? Was it supposed to be so open ended that anything is valid? If this was the case then it is very hard to ever predict what will happen from this game and to guarantee a rewarding experience to all players. Though I really wanted this to go well, in the end, it just kind of became more of an awkward waste of time.
If I were to say one thing that might have made things easier on us, it would have been to specify strong clear goals that the characters have to achieve and what the outcomes of achieving or not achieving them would result in. Some type of risk versus reward, some type of direction. Anything so the players would know if they were on the right track, if there was any track to begin with. Maybe we missed the point. But I hope we do get a better understanding of what was actually supposed to happen if we continue to play the scenario over, maybe this time with a full ten people.