Roleplaying and Shakespeare? The Play’s the Thing was always going to catch my attention, but I didn’t expect for it to be quite as strange and cool as it is. The players, guided by the Playwright, are actors in a theatre troupe trying to act out a play – however, when anyone can suggest weird and wonderful edits, who knows where things will end up? The Play’s the Thing is a fantastic way of acting out your favourite Shakespearean dramas – just be ready for everything to change at the whim of the players, or sometimes the pettiness of the actors!
Breaking the Ice by Emily Care Boss is a two-player game that tells the story of a relationship through its rocky start into a bright future. I was initially dubious about this game, as I felt that it would inevitably be awkward and weird to play, provoking lots of trashy novel descriptions and stilted, melodramatic dialogue, but I’m pleasantly surprised. It’s fresh, fun and opens a dialogue right from the start about comfort levels. Continue reading
Monsterhearts is one of those games that’s acquired a sort of mythic status (certainly where I live). It’s known for being emotionally powerful, excellent for genre emulation and potentially hugely variable depending on the campaign. Maybe that’s just in my friends’ circle, but there are good reasons for this reputation. Continue reading
Happy Birthday, Robot! is a lovely game that is self-contained, quick to learn and designed as a group storytelling activity for children, in a classroom environment or elsewhere. I’m reviewing it partly because I find it a fascinating example of roleplaying games as a teaching tool. Specifically, what it’s teaching here (as well as verbal skills, socialising, reasoning, grammar, etc.) is collaboration. Continue reading
I have spent a long time saying I wanted to play Annalise and never getting around to it, another trophy from the Bundle of Holding. I’m a huge fan of the Gothic and of vampire stories, and Annalise is a fascinating take in a potentially over-populated genre. Continue reading
Heroine is a story game for 3-6 players in which a young female character undertakes a magical journey and fights through obstacles to confront the antagonist…and herself. Inspired by Labyrinth, Spirited Away, MirrorMask, The Wizard of Oz and many similar stories of human girls in fantastical worlds, one player in Heroine takes on the role of the Heroine, one the Narrator and any others the Heroine’s quirky Companions who help her through her journey.
[CW: anxiety, rejection]
This is a pretty fraught subject for me. I hate being left out or pushed to the edges of something, and it stems from a deep and abiding fear that if I’m not defined by other people, I’m not defined at all. Like, if they ignore me, I’ll just vanish. It’s a deep-ingrained anxiety, and it’s hard to shake. For me, there are a number of ways this can be exacerbated by gaming, but the commonest and most awkward one is when I feel that people have deliberately excluded me from a game that I’m enthusiastic about, or my partner is included in. I have a very strong reaction to that, and I even have a milder reaction to not being invited to games I’m not actually that interested in. It’s led to me pushing myself into groups in ways that make looking back at the experience uncomfortable. Ironically, that very act of pushing my way in has left me feeling like an outsider in a group that I really and truly want to feel comfortable with – some treacherous part of my brain is always saying that they only included me after I bullied my way in and that they would much rather I left. Rationally, I know that group would be honest with me if that were the case, but I know I behaved somewhat badly in pressuring them to include me, so it just adds weight to my fear of being rejected by them. I also know that they didn’t intend to exclude me or hurt me, but that doesn’t stop the emotional reaction. Continue reading