I’ve been commissioned for two performance-story-game things in the next couple of weeks. They’re both very different, but it’s fun to be thinking more deeply about how performance games work with different kinds of audience. The first is part of a city-wide scavenger hunt in Book Week Scotland, and needed to be suitable for any age and experience of person who might turn up. The second is an adaptation of one of the games in Class Act, and is designed for an arty party atmosphere; I specifically pitched it as a game for the people who like playing with lego in the corner of parties.
A Game of Many Stories
Calloo Callay Scavenger Hunt, Edinburgh
1st December, 1 – 5pm
Welcome to the palace of the storytellers! You have come here on a quest, but to get your reward you tell the story of a whole new quest.
You will work together (and compete) to tell a new, magical fairytale. A story about a country threatened by a terrible dragon, and a plucky young adventurer’s quest. You will be dealt cards by the Master Storyteller. Each of these cards tells of one thing that happens in the story, and most of them also have a special power. When you play a card, you must tell the next part of the tale. You earn a point for every card you play, and the person with the most points wins a reward – and you may all continue your quest!
Players: 3 or more players, of all ages (though younger storytellers can ask for help if they want).
Time: 10-15 minutes, once we’ve begun.
Equipment: 30 story cards, based on Propp’s “Mythology of the Folktale“
Surplus Value @ Hatch: MASS
Spanky Van Dyke’s, Nottingham
12th December, 7 til late
One player is recruited to be the boss. They are seated in an impressive-looking chair, and told that they are going to set up a widget factory. They start with bundle of money and pile of lego. An initial workforce of 3-4 workers is recruited. In a series of rounds, the boss pays the workers to build widgets, and sells those widgets on the open market, attempting to make a profit. As the price of raw materials, living costs, and widgets fluctuates (engineered by the host), the boss and the workers begin to clash over wages. Anything can happen: sometimes the workers will strike for better pay, sometimes the boss will recruit supervisors to keep the workers in line, sometimes the workers attempt a co-operative buy-out, sometimes something else happens. The game illustrates simply how the bosses are forced to drive productivity up and labour costs down, while workers are trying to achieve the opposite.
Participants: At any time, 1-2 hosts, or, “the free market”, 1 boss, 3-5 workers
Time: 3-4 hours, or until the market crashes, whichever is sooner.
Equipment: Large pile of lego bricks, Bundle of fake money, “FTSE Index”: a projection or large sheet of paper tracking in-game prices, At least 10 square feet of playing space