… Has This Been Goin’ On? Alternative equally music-meming title: My Only Friend, the End. Or, wait, how about, Stop! In the Name of What?
This is about how long we play, in real time. It can refer to the length of a session, how many sessions relative to a given fictional situation, how long
Right now, you may be thinking: but it’s easy. There are one-shot games, short-form campaign games, and long-form/forever campaign games, and a few gradations along that spectrum; also, there are ordinary human considerations like changing life-styles and locations. That’s what we hear all the time. That’s the conventional vocabulary.
This seminar is intended to get past that boilerplate to the point of vaporizing it, by focusing on these effects that arise from play content, i.e., the fiction and how we engage with it.
- Playing a game with a built-in structural ending point or mandate to stop after a certain time or session, but to keep playing instead. That can mean either spinning that structure to a longer time commitment or modifying the structure.
- Playing with a pre-agreed limit on time or content, continuing to play well past that, sometimes considerably past it, instead.
- Playing a game that is described and conceived as “forever” play, but with locally-established limits that make it short-form instead, with properties that are uniquely suited to that form.
- Playing a game that is described and conceived as “forever” play, but which – upon inspection and experience of play – offers structural features which serve as effective, satisfying endpoints. Those features can be either things, like a status change for characters or locations, or certain features which feeling ending-like; or the absence of things, i.e., to play past this point means effectively authoring a whole game.
- Playing a game (rather rare) that includes informal ending as part of the procedures.
The list of included game titles is really long, and obviously we could have cited a thousand more, but I’d like to avoid simply adding to it with, e.g., a list of textual one-shot games as if that were an insight. Instead, I’d really like people to comment about play experiences that match the bullet points above or anything similar to them.
Link: to my proto-game Shine a Light, mentioned in the conversation.