A new language is a new life

Dialect is a game that explores how an isolated group develops their own language and how both the group and the language then fade away either by assimilation or extinction.

While I don’t really remember how I got to know about the game I do remember what made me want to play it.

  • I love language and how it enables us to share our thoughts, feelings and experiences with others.
    Language and culture are intertwined, they inform each other. The ability to read or use a language is a huge part of our identity.
  • I like the way game uses cards (they are specialized for this game) to give prompts to the players. The cards design is really thought through and works well even with people like me who have difficulties coming up with some tale without others taking the lead.
  • I found the way it handles “story telling” easy to grasp. The rules are simple and clear, players take turns in “framing a scene” but coming up with a word is a collective act as is the dialogue phase that ends a turn though the player whose turn it is determines who will be in the dialogue.
  • The dramatic arc, consisting of three ages, makes sure that things stay focused. Though the end is basically determined up front (neither the isolation or the language will survive in the state they are in at the beginning) they make it very clear that you should act ignoring that knowledge. The cards are grouped per age and for each age the prompts on them slowly and gently push you in the “right” direction.
  • The backdrops, especially the non-basic ones, are really thought provoking.

The one thing that I would object to is the game designers opinion about this being a 3-4 hours single session game. My point of view is that the game benefits from not rushing through it. So maybe 3-4 session (more than that if playing it online) is more realistic and fair to the game and the players.

I did try the game as a player with a couple of people from the Adept Play community and beyond and realized that I wanted to play it again. Therefore, when my groups usual GM decided to take a break, I found myself presenting the game to them and offering to be the Facilitator (the games name for the person in charge of presenting and keeping things on track as well as remembering the rules as good as possible). This will be the first time I’m in that position so let’s see how it goes.

So far we did not do much more than decide which of the backdrops we’ll use – it’s called “Thiefs cant” and I have two weeks during which I’ll try to prepare some kind of digital white-board to use as our table.

(the title of this post is taken from the game and according to the authors a Persian Proverb; even the picture is from the game)