Posted by Caroline
One of the nicest things that I’ve been doing this year is getting a coffee at a very quiet cafe with Marc and playing a story game together. We are able to snag an auntie or grandparent maybe once a month to make this happen, and it’s always delightful. I’ve always been a big fan of the morning con slot, so the coffee games are a special treat.
Far and away my favorite game of the year has been In This World, the new gem from our dear friend Ben Robbins. I think I’ve played it at least 6 times in as many months. In In This World, you choose a topic, describe facts about the topic in the real world, and then make various imaginary worlds by changing and remixing those facts. It’s creative candy to someone who likes world-building as much as I do.
This weekend Marc and I were big cute dorks and took it to the meta level — In This World: Story Games.
World 1: World of Endless Role-Play
We started by changing “Story games aren’t about winning,” to “well, actually they are, and the way you win is by being the last to break character.” Starting a game was a big deal, because once you started being Eldrock the Elf, you couldn’t stop or you would lose. Started a game of Monsterhearts? Sorry, but every time you see Helen at yoga, you both have to pretend to have teen monster problems.
World 2: World of Worldcraft
This was my favorite of the worlds just for being cozy and a world I might actually enjoy. We started by changing “Players play characters” to “Players create worlds.” Story games were all only world-building games, and they always ended before a story began. Instead of playing out the story, a player might take the setting and use it to write a novel. Good vibes.
World 3: World of Bleed
And now for some yikes, in this world, players don’t play characters, they play themselves, and everything is a metaphor for real life. If I want to break up with you, my elf will break up with your elf in the game. And if you aren’t playing? I’ll record my elf playing with an NPC and send it to you. Yikes yikes yikes.
At that point our babysitting time was quickly running out, so we ended the game there, and went for a walk around the lake. But like all games of In This World, you can’t really stop thinking about it, so we made a bonus world on the move (no index cards babyyyyy we’re wild).
World 4: World of Jumanj-ish
In this world, what happens in the game happens in the real world. And designers don’t make games, they were unearthed from ancient tablets. But what happens in the game doesn’t happen to you, it happens to strangers. The players know it’s happening, they just don’t know to whom. But the godlike power is cursed, and the circle of who your game affects shrinks over time, first strangers, then friends, then finally, on your final game, yourself. oooOOOOOooo!
It was about an hour and a half of total play, for four very different and interesting worlds.
In This World, like all of Ben’s games, is expertly designed to get us exploring big ideas. But what I most appreciate about In This World is how it makes me feel that the magic of each and every game is us — people getting together and sharing our unique perspectives to make something new.
In this world, story games are joy.
In This World is on Kickstarter till June 20th, and is 1000% worth backing. Do yourself a solid and check it out!