Have you ever felt that our lives are not...real? That there's something going on? Didn't something strange happen to you lately? No. Hm. Okay, please hear me out before you call me nuts. People have disappeared from my life and no-one but me remembers them. I had this colleague and one day she didn't come to work. No-one noticed. It's like she has never been there. No - she did not just move away or get fired. It's like someone erased her and I'm the only one who notices. Oh, and the people I ask didn't even remember us talking about it five minutes later.
This was the opening for a freeform game I played with a friend. I had no idea where it would be going or even if it would work when I came up with it and I was rather nervous when we started, but it worked out beautifully.
In the game:
We talked for a while about how such a thing can be possible - always assuming that I'm not just completely bonkers and then I started having serious deja vu, like we had done and said this all before. The feeling went away after a while, but we both were suddenly missing people in out lives. Friends we share, people we hang out with - only one of us remembered them. It was ridiculous and we laughed, but there was no denying that this was happening. And then we forgot. What did we talk about? I don't know, roleplaying and stuff, the movie we'd be watching later. Stuff. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Out of the game:
We played the game as ourselves, no characters. I inserted the start of the game into an ongoing conversation, although we later agreed to have some sort of start and stop signal next time (like a coin one player hands to the other). We never really went out of the game while it lasted and we managed to arrive at the same points without talking about it, like when we suddenly both had caught whatever was happening or when we ended the game by forgetting all about it.
We played this game right in the heart of Hamburg, visiting a couple of landmarks on the way and ending up taking the old Elbtunnel to get to the other side of the river. That was not actually planned, but it was a lot of fun to do. Here's our route. With hindsight, the tunnel was a great way to work towards the end of the game and a nice metaphor. When we arrived on the other end, we pretty much just sat there, looking out over the river towards the city for a good ten minutes, not talking. The view there is gorgeous and one of my favourite places to see Hamburg.
The game was inspired by a short story by Neil Gaiman, Goliath. I thought about a couple of other things to do during the game, like pointing out buildings that have not been there yesterday. Or using a tablet/phone that for some reason or other has the ability to show only people that are real, instead of all the people that are just illusions. That would have been a different game, though, maybe I'll try that when I get another chance. This time, we explored how we would deal with it if something like that happens - would we even care if someone told us as long as we did not actually remember the people who are gone?
Another inspiration was the blog Norwegian Style and a game suggested there of just going outside and encounter the supernatural. The idea of just going somewhere and playing there comes from that blog post. We also did the actual game the post described, but that will be another post.
This game was very personal and my absolute favourite part was the way we created the story with unspoken agreement.