Stefano first talked with me about this game about a year and a half ago, at Modena Play. At the time, he was anxious about how it might be received, about whether or how one might be designated unsuited or ineligible for authoring such a thing, and about representation in general. Dozens of playtests later, and having weathered at least one internet storm based on exactly those things, he’s not anxious any more. He’s certain now – and pissed off in the very best way.
Allen Ginsberg, observing the Christopher Circle district soon after the riots which are the subject for the game, said of the gay community there: “They’ve lost that wounded look.” As has been noted by many who’ve written about it, this was the moment that marked the transition from the Mattachine Society’s slogan, “gay is good,” to the street slogan, “Gay Power.” That moment is, in the game, what we do.
This is one of the consulting/proto-game sessions from Lucca, just a week or so ago. I did six of them, and was very, very happy to see that Stonewall has hit the point of no return. No matter who says otherwise, we’re going to be seeing this thing finished and published.
The game’s squarely situated in a known family of play: structured freeform, powerful historical underpinnings, and pinpointed moments of crisis. It’s not unfamiliar to the author of Spione and Shahida, as indeed those games and others like Steal Away Jordan and Grey Ranks serve as the foundation for it. If you can believe this, it forges ahead into territory those games only glance at.
Ready for this? Stefano says, No Lines, no X-card. Seriously. This is deliberately dangerous, vulnerable, uncompromising play. You know what I think? That it ultimately succeeds or fails based on one thing alone: love. The characters suffer and defy oppression. The question is whether you can love them and in doing so, love aspects of one another, for real.
Anything else I have to say about it is in the video.
You’ll see as well that I’m developing a language to focus on the transition between writing for design and writing for play, emphasizing that the former needs to ignore the audience’s understanding, and the latter needs to focus only on the audience’s procedure. We can get more into this later as you’ll see me apply it in almost every session.