27 August 2007

Shock: Actual Play - Everything Is Social Networking

On Saturday, me and Make Tea Not War played a game of Shock:. Our Shock was picked to be life-logging, inspired by this piece by Charles Stross. The issues were "Games = Work" (the idea that leisure and work activities all used the same technologies and were often indistinguishable) and Privacy.

The characters where:
  • Lucy Doe, an orphan who was behind a '43 things' style organisation movement. Her antagonist was her roommate in a Big Brother style house (and later, the whole media network behind that show). This was Tea's character.
  • Aedo Shogo was a blogger and conspiracy theorist. His antagonist was a mysterious stalker. This was my character.
Both characters had links to, in essence, their blog followers (although as they both pretty much broadcast their whole lives, this was somewhat more than we are used to).

Lucy's story was about her desire to find her family - something that is obviously somewhat mysterious in a world where basically everything is recorded. Her story dealt with her annoying roommate and then the executives behind the broadcast, as the whole thing turned up to be a setup (including her being an orphan - this turned out to be untrue).

Shogo's story was about his attempts to uncover "the" conspiracy. His stalker began interrupting his monologues - and he couldn't work out how he was being hacked. Following hir hints, Shogo broke a coverup over the Mars landings (this subsequently turned out to be fabricated) before going "off the grid" into hiding to escape the stalker. This failed, and he had to deal with the stalker then convincing him to sit on his evidence. In the process he risked and changed both links twice.

Now, at the time we felt somewhat uninspired. The shock we picked wasn't wild and crazy or anything, but I've found myself thinking back on some of the stuff we dealt with a few times. We discussed a little, and concluded that in some ways we know each other too well for there to be many surprises in a game like this. However, we both pulled a twist on each other about the antagonists that was out of the blue.

In my case, this was the revelation that Lucy's parents essentially sold her to reality TV. In Tea's it was that Shogo's stalker was a fan who was in love with him (and thus all the creepy hacking and fake conspiracy was designed to be what he wanted most). And, after thinking about it, those are both really quite cool (and creepy).

We played with the 1.0 book but 1.1 handouts and the pdf on a laptop for reference. The 1.1 changes helped make things run a little smoother, but that's the limit of what I noticed about it. The main thing I like is that antagonist credits are checkboxes - much easier to track!

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