I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs that after I started posting about my depression, and organising having friends over to game with us, those same friends organised a weekend of gaming in Bournemouth. That was this weekend, I’ve had an amazing time and here’s the first couple of games from Saturday morning.
General content warning: a lot of the games I play are likely to bring up subjects that some people may find triggering. One of the key things for these games are ‘lines and veils’ conversations. We as a group discuss what things we’re uncomfortable with appearing in games. We’ll also discuss if there are things we don’t wish described in detail, we’ll pull a veil on such things and assume they happen behind closed doors. We also have a standing rule that if something comes up we’re not comfortable with it’s perfectly acceptable for anyone to interrupt and say as much, with the expectation that everyone else playing will respect this.
First up a quick game poem (a game poem is a short RPG that looks at one thing in detail) called Dance in which we were all at a party succumbing to the plague. It was quick, silly and fun. My favourite part was Helen delivering a great line, and immediately succumbing to the plague. It was awesome.
Content warning: The next game has the following subjects that could be triggers for some people:
Domestic abuse, murder, attempted suicide and infidelity.
I then facilitated and played in a game of ‘A Penny for my Thoughts’. This is a game about regaining lost memories through shared treatment, with an experimental drug that allows you to pick up the others’ lost memories. In this game the key elements of your lost memories are shaped by the other players, and it makes use of Improv drama techniques.
I played this with Jess, Marc and Jay.
We had a character whose happiest memory was a birthday with a lovely gift from her sister, followed by an unpleasant memory where her partner revealed he was having an affair with that same sister. Finally in her traumatic memory she discovered that she’d attacked, and killed her sister. This player decided not to retain these memories as they were too traumatic and didn’t want to know they’d killed their sister.
Then there was a woman whose happy memory was taking a boyfriend to meet her family for the first time. In their unpleasant memory it was years later and the house they and their children were living in was on fire – and the fire had been set deliberately. As they escaped they were watched by a man. In the final memory this man, who was her abusive ex, turned up at the new house and attacked her, she fought back and killed him. She decided to keep her memories because of her children.
Next was a man whose happy memories were of fishing with their father. But this moved on to their mother’s funeral where their paternal uncle, who’d had an affair with their mother, turned up, and there was an altercation. In the final traumatic memory their uncle claimed they were actually their biological father. As they fled the situation for some space to think they were hit by a car. He decided not to remember, as he didn’t want to deal with the fact that his father might not actually be his father.
Finally there was my character. They started with a memory of camping with friends before going their separate ways to uni, with one friend Sarah announcing they were enlisting instead. In the second, unpleasant memory, there was a meeting with Sarah on a boat just off the beach. Sarah revealed that she had blocked his attempts to enlist as she thought it would change him for the worse. In the argument he capsized the boat, and being unable to swim started to drown – Sarah just watched. The final traumatic memory saw a final meeting with Sarah, which turned confrontational with Sarah pulling a gun and trying to kill themselves. In the struggle he got hold of the gun and turned it on himself, resulting in my amnesia. He chose to keep his memories and see if he could rebuild his life and possibly at least speak to Sarah.
I thoroughly enjoyed this game. It was very dark in places, but was an amazing experience, with great players.
I know that a lot of gamers prefer not to play this style of game, and I can understand that. They tend to cover topics that can be difficult and triggering. However with a ‘safe’ group, I find I personally get my best gaming experiences from this kind of game. They can bring tears sometimes (the game above did that for me), laughter – all sorts of feelings and personally I find nothing wrong with exploring these kind of things. In fact for me it’s incredibly healthy, as in the past I’ve struggled to express my own feelings (one side effect of this was probably a delay in recognising and seeking help with my depression), and these games have helped me find this easier.
Thanks for reading all, and stay safe.