Thursday, July 31, 2008

Collaborative Story Telling as a Game

I have never played this game but I can't wait for my children to get to the age in which I can try it out with them:

The game is called Shadows and it's a very simple role playing game that even very young children can play. In Shadows, the game master is the narrator of a story. The story begins with the characters waking up somewhere from a noise. The game master will then begin a story and occasionally interrupt it to ask those who are playing to do three things: say what they want to happen next; say what "Their Shadow" - a character that always wants to get into trouble - wants to happen next; and to roll two die. If the Shadow die comes up with a higher number than the "Good" die, then the story will unfold as The Shadow wants. [LionKimbro's unalog]

I have never played role playing games myself, but my friends and I in high school and in university, used to write "add-on short stories" (otherwise known as the Surrealist game, Exquisite Corpse) via email. Looking back at them, I would say that the characters we constructed were all Shadows of our own selves.

What detractors of games in libraries may not understand (or may care not to understand as is more often the case) is that gaming can be thought of as something much larger than following a set of rules to determine a winner and a loser. I'm following the work of Jane McGonigal trying to better understand what this much larger force is and can be.

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