The #Feminism anthology is an awesome book. It has a beautiful layout done by Shuo Meng that begs you to flip through it and uncover these easy-to-digest, fun-to-read, nano games written by feminists through a feminist lens. Of particular note, each of the games are one to two pages long, have an intensity rating (one to five), and show their estimated length (all an hour or less).
Cool as all these game are, I was a bit nervous facilitating them. Many of them, even the lowest intensity games, are intimately about women’s lives and women’s experiences. I was doubting if I could, as a cis-man, facilitate these games well, and should I even be running them? Go Play NW seemed like a really good place to find out though, so I put it on the schedule and was delighted to see it fill up quickly with wonderful people I already knew and loved.
Games we Played
Here were the games we played in order. Three games but since once of them had three games within it, I’m calling it five!
Mentioning the Unmentionables by Kajsa Greger (Sweden)
Three games about the anatomy of women. (Dances with Vulva, Dying for a Cup of Coffee, and Just Put Some Salt on It)
3–5 players; 60 minutes; Intensity 3/5.
Tropes vs. Women by Ann Eriksen (Denmark)
Explore well-known movie clichés and tropes about women in a fun and not too serious way.
3–5 players; 20 minutes; Intensity 1/5.
First Date by Katrin Førde (Norway)
A game about a date gone wrong and a rant about the orgasm gap.
2–5 players; 30 mins; Intensity 1/5.
Everyone was fantastic about jumping in and trying these games with an open mind. Just Put Some Salt on It in particular sparked a lot of conversation during and after the game. It did a wonderful job of normalizing menstruation and as we played through it over and over (five scenes that were two minutes long and then 10 more scenes that were each 20 seconds long), something that started as embarrassing or taboo quickly became either a totally normal accident or something that would become a funny (funny positive, not funny shameful or demeaning ) story afterward.
Because many of these games had us play out the same scenes over and over, some of the reincorporation we had was amazing. The Tough Mudders, the Investments, the students noticing a smudge on their graded papers. All inside baseball I know, but very entertaining and normalizing in the moment.
The games for the most part fit in a freeform larp space. Several of them were set around the table so we sat at the table where we started, but if they called us to stand up and walk away from the table at the end (as in First Date and Dying for a Cup of Coffee did) then it was very natural to do so. I think this was in part because of our location. Campion Hall (where Go Play Northwest was hosting game this year) has all these nooks and crannies where you can game. Our game was around the corner from Monster Draft but secluded enough that we didn’t feel like getting up, moving around, or using the couch behind us was disrupting other games. Nor did we feel self conscious about the games content. It was just a great place to play in.
Among a small group of people, all of which either knew either other well and/or felt comfortable discussing their own content and touch boundaries, our negotiations of appropriate topics and level of physical contact was exceptional. Several times I noticed that before contact was made, permission was asked, and we talked frequently about the content of the games as we played them. We hat lots and lots of little mini debriefs (which were specifically called out in the games), which was great for doing course correction as we played more games.
What could have improved
I read some of the “secret” games before we played them because I wanted to be transparent about the content. I wish I hadn’t. There aren’t any big content reveals and the twists are great.
First Date…wow, that game is marked as intensity 1/5 but wow did we all feel terrible after playing the ranter. Of all the games it was the one we needed the most assurance that we weren’t terrible people afterward.
Looking forward to playing more #Feminism nano-games at Gen Con!