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Review Together / Alone

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Together / Alone is a game set in the contemporary Prague. The characters who are playing the game, are normal people with their issues, romances and everything else. We created these characters via the workshops set before the game. The game was played mixed in Czech and English. As for the duration, there was one weekend for workshops a week between where we were creating our online life and 24 hours of the game itself. The main topic is whether we can be happy if we find our soul mate. I am not sure whether the game answered this question, at least not for me, but it was definitely worth playing.

Review

Together / Alone was for me an example how I imagined urban larps when I started playing larps. It is also the only example, which actually worked, at least for me. The main reason, I suppose, is that it wasn’t trying to hide another world different from ours. The fact, that the game wasn’t action based also helped a lot for me. It was also important, that we all accepted the premise that we are going to play the game in a civil manner, which allowed immersing into the game for me. During the whole game in the city, I live in I left immersion only once and it was just a slight breakage of immersion.

Most of the game was created in the workshops a week before the game. Every character created an important problem, which we created as a part of the workshops. When I was creating my character, I underestimated how important part of the game is this issue going to be. When I am looking back on the game, I can see that the 24 hours are meaningful as a story only watches throughout the optic of the issue. How it influenced the life and the behavior of the character I was playing.

In the end, the game was quite unexpectedly somehow a reflection on how I live my life through the eyes of the character. The character wouldn’t understand the life and would ask why. It isn’t something that was present in the game on a conscious level. It was something that started nagging me, once I got time after the game to think it through.

Workshops

It is the second game, I played, which uses workshops as a main way to create the whole game. First was Dance Macabre (Dance game) and the second was Together / Alone. Both these games brought me a very strong experience. I am still a bit unsure whether it is because of the games as such, the mechanics they use, or the creation of the character in workshops which makes it far simpler for the game to be close to home. I believe though that the creation in workshop is important part.
The length of the workshops was adequately long, on to the topic a helped us create believable characters. Kamil with Lucka guided us through the creation of the game, starting from the mechanics and the points of the game, through understanding what is the issue of our characters, which define why is he in his current situation, creation of the basic relationships, which will be the main content for the game ending in deepening the relationships and the background of our character. It allowed us to create plastic characters, which had enough in common with us as players, but with enough distinction to be interesting for us. During the evening and the morning of the second day, except for the oblique party, we had enough place to deepen our characters and at least the most important relationships.

Important part of the game was also the weeke between the game, during which we created facebook profiles of our characters and Kamil set a goal to us for writing status for our characters daily. Reading and writing the statuses and comments helped me get a better idea what my friends and acquaintances look like. It therefore simplified the beginning of the game.

spolu

(author of photography: Hana Maturová)

Gameplay

I was a bit worried before the game whether the beginning would feel natural and whether it won’t be too weird pretending to be someone else. In the end, it turned out to be so simple, that I barely realized the game has already started. The only change for me was occasional switching to the English for Crian to understand me. In the retrospective, I am really glad that I got different clothing for the character than the one I usually wear. It helped me to make a difference between me and my character and it also simplified becoming the character.

One of the questions, which was nagging me ahead of the game was how is the main topic going to manifest itself in the game: „Can we be happy if we find our soul mate?„ I was surprised. I didn’t try to intentionally accentuate the topic, but with the game we created during the workshops it was ubiquitous for the whole game. It manifested in minor challenges my character has to overcome as well as in all the events happening in the circle of my friends, whom I spent my time with.

One of the things we choose in the workshops was our key partner. Someone who will be there for us to see how the life is changing. This was another mechanics I watched with suspicion. The idea that I will have to spend half an hour discussing random stuff over the coffee with a quiet discussion just slightly touching the topic wasn’t really filling me with confidence. In the end, it turned out at least for me, that it really doesn’t have to look this way. We exchanged few words on the party of someone else and it turned out to be enough to fulfill his role in my life and allowed me to change a perspective on my life.

A great aspect of the game, at least for me was the flexibility of the game. When something lacked a meaning, the character just didn’t do it, did something else and it still worked in the framework of the game, without breaking it. Even not making an appearance anywhere was kind of an answer, you could play with in the remaining relationships.

In the game, I played in the group, which interacted a lot with Crian, who doesn’t speak Czech. I wasn’t sure how is this experiment going to work out, but at least on my part, it worked rather well. The discussions switching fluently from Czech to English and back with occasional interpretation for Crian brought another dimension to already rich experience. It made me think what it is like to live in a country, where I don’t understand the people talking to each other. And I wonder a lot how he can go through that daily.

Subjective feelings from the game

(A bit of the rambling about what was the game like for my character and me as a player)

It is 12 hours after the game and I am still unsure about what should I think about the game. The only thing I am sure about is that I experienced very strong 24 hours. The biggest influence on this for me had the believability of the game and the fluent gameplay of the game. Everything was civil and I never got into a situation, where I would have to wonder. What the hell is this doing in this game?

There are so many emotions and memories for this 24 hours and it is so difficult to somehow sort them out and to find a meaningful image, which will make a sense, at least remotely. The only thing I could understand is the changes in how I feel. On one hand, everything was beautiful and so simple. Taking guitar everywhere with me and actually, everything I needed to live. There aren’t many things I actually need for a living. It would be so daunting to believe that such a simple life would be great. I don’t believe it would be like that in the end, though. One of the reasons the game was a bit dangerous, at least for me was that it was portraying just a very short part of the overall life of a character I played.

There was actually more or less no moment, when I feel out of character. It was strange and a bit in contrast to the real world flowing around me. It just allowed me to get a glimpse of what it would be like to be someone else, but not in a different world, in the current one. This larp in a way was answering a question what would my life look like if I choose different route in my own life. What surprised me a lot was how intense the experience was despite there was nothing extreme happening. The Friday evening spent partying, drinking a booze and playing the guitar followed by a discussion during the breakfast and then playing the guitar again in the Grobovka isn’t that extraordinary, but all together it created a timeless experience. The experience which made me wonder: „It ended? It just can’t be possible„

Playlist from Thomas, my character: musician alcoholic, who in the end never achieved anything, but he never missed this in the life.

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