Actual Play – #Feminism with Big Bad Con Guests (6/5/2017)

Facilitator: Alex Roberts
Players: Laura Simpson, Hakan Seyalioglu, and Sean Nittner
System: #Feminism nano games

In joint celebration of the Pelgrane Press re-release of #Feminism, of the Big Bad Con 2017 Kickstarter, and of the Actual Play Twitch channel, Alex and I organized a game (or a few games of) #Feminism! Thanks to Laura and Hakan for signing up!

We played: 

  • Mentioning the Unmentionables: Dances with Vulvas (a fun warm up game that gets you really used to saying the word “vulva”)
  • 6016 (the utopian game set in 6016 where students study history from 4,000 years ago with only a soap opera as source material)
  • First Date (never mind the wage gap, let’s ruin this first date justifying the orgasm gap)
  • A Friend in Need (how we respond to street harassment, and then how people respond to that response!)
  • Lipstick (Sophia is uncomfortable both with and without lipstick on)

#Feminism on Air

What Rocked

Getting to play these awesome games with awesome people!

Promoting rad stuff!

Tackling some things that put us all out of our comfort zones and doing so mindfully and respectfully.

What could have improved

Some folks in chat weren’t prepared for the content that came up, so I think we could have done better at setting expectations in the beginning.

Some folks on YouTube objected to us playing #Feminism games. It’s unsurprising but still unfortunate that some of our audience doesn’t appreciate these games.

 

Actual Play – #Feminism Take 2 – The Flirt (8/7/2016)

#FeminismFacilitator: Sean Nittner
Players: Andy Munich, Alex Roberts, David Leaman, and Jeremy Tidwell
System: #Feminism Nano-Games

Our last game of the con and oh, what a good one.

The Flirt

Finally, after several sessions, I added a new game in!

Flirt by Agata wistak (Poland)
Flirt is an attempt to deconstruct the game almost everyone is playing — game of hook-ups, crushes, and scoring!
4–5 players; 60 minutes; Intensity 2/5.

The suggestion that I had heard about this game was to make it a meta-game that was played while playing the other #Feminism nano-games. So. Meta.

Part of the flirt, in addition to secretly assigning roles as (The Girl, The Girl’s Secret Friend, The Flirt, and the The Flirt’s Friends) is to also make large pile of genders, gender expressions, sexual and relationship orientations, and governing moods. I was a shy, fem, cis-woman. So the intent was to play up these public identities in addition to our secret role while also playing the other nano-games. So. Very. Meta.
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Unsurprisingly, we also played the two games that I’ve come to adore:

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.

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.

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What Rocked

I was super concerned about Alex being the only woman at the table. It was a mix of wanting her to feel safe and wanting all the men at the table (including myself) to avoid tokenizing or fetishsizing her presence, or you know, just being jerks. I know and love Jeremy and from my knowledge of Andy and his involvement in Geek Girl Con, I felt pretty confident that we’d be in good shape and stay vigilant for any sexist or otherwise jerky behavior. David, who was unknown to me, turned out to be just wonderful as well. At the end of the game (in our overall debrief) we talked about Alex being the only woman at the table and how that affected the games we played and the interactions we had. Thumbs up all around. Yay!

The Flirt was an insidious game. Alex drew “The Girl” and I drew “The Flirt”. Jeremy and Andy were “The Flirt’s Friends”. There were these things that Andy and Jeremy did that really made my mind explode wondering why they did them and what they meant. At one point Andy gave me a very flattering compliment and I first though “wow, that was so nice of him.” Then I wondered though, how much was he doing that just to prop me up, to play his role. Jeremy made a move I didn’t even pick up on until later. He was about to sit down next to Alex but then changed his mind and said I should instead. I didn’t think twice about it, until he said in the debrief that he had done that to put us together. I know we’re always operating on multiple levels and everything has subtext but playing this prolonged social deduction game (even when I knew who everyone was) really got me thinking about all the subtle and not subtle things we do to and our reasons for them. Just like the game intended!

What a wonderful group of people and a wonderful way to end Gen Con! Thanks to all of you!

What could have improved

One thing I wasn’t able to do was stack the various gender, orientation, and governing moods onto my other roles. I picked the shy, fem, and cis-woman card because I thought I could portray those roles and identities while also facilitating other games, but I think I bombed at that pretty hard. Food for thought.

Actual Play – Gen Con #Feminism Take 1 (8/4/2016)

#FeminismFacilitator: Sean Nittner
Players: Tasha Robinson, Spencer Abbe, Hillary Brannon, and Degen Gottlieb
System: #Feminism Nano-Games

I swore that I’d play different games this time, but as I flipped through them, the same ones we played just seemed so inviting. I mean who doesn’t want to say “The Vulva and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”?

So, games we played included:

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.

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.

What Rocked

In one of the First Date scenarios our ranter started talking about the placement of the clitoris in rabbits and I just about died laughing. The worst part is that it’s an argument someone might make. Oh my, I couldn’t take it.

There was another First Date scene where the Listener just wouldn’t leave…so it kept going, and going, and it became an endurance test for the ranter. Watching them run out of steam was pretty amazing.

Our games of Dying for a Cup of Coffee and Just Put Some Salt on it had pretty awesome debriefs. For being a con scenario in a room filled with a hundred other people I was incredibly impressed with the emotional honesty and the willingness to talk about personal experiences at the table. I felt really lucky to have such an open and thoughtful group.

What could have improved

We made it work but I don’t think #Feminism games are particularly well suited for a Gen Con sized Games on Demand area. Lots of noise and distractions. Constructing a “white sofa” out of chairs was doable, but I missed the actual sofa we had a Go Play.

Actual Play – Dying for a Cup of Coffee (7/10/2016)

#FeminismFacilitator: Sean Nittner
Players: Julie Southworth, Jackson Tegu, Kathryn Hymes, and Hakan Seyalioglu
System: #Feminism Nano-Games

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.

What Rocked

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.

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Looking forward to playing more #Feminism nano-games at Gen Con!

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