01 November, 2009

Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #43: Fluency Play

There seems to be something interesting happening in game design at the moment.

I've noticed it in a few games, and it's something I've been aspiring towards in some of my own games.

Jason Godesky has made a post about it and has referenced the phenomenon as Fluency Play.

It's an amazing concept and something that many boardgames have done effortlessly for years.

I can't write the concept more succinctly than those who have written about it previously, so here's a bunch of links...

Pedagogy of Play
Story Games Thread

I'd love to do this in Quincunx, and Brigaki Djili has this concept directly in mind.

It;s a method to introduce instant immersion, because the players don't feel like they are "playing a game", instead they are sharing an experience.

The first game I've played to implement this in an elegant fashion is "Penny", but I've raved enough about that one. Apparently Jason has implemented a similar concept in his Fifth World game, I'd like to see how that's been done.

For my own implementations of it, I think a Quincunx character generation process that worked like an HR questionnaire for a new recruit coming into the company. The GM would function in the role of a work advisor, or someone introducing the characters into the company, and this would work well as an introduction to the role for them as well. I'm thinking that a series of questions like the Myers-Briggs personality test could be used to fill out a decent chunk of the matrix (and probably assign the character to a role within the company, with it's relevant paths), while a few deeper questions would fill the rest of the paths. This would have the twofold effect of getting players into the headspace of their characters, and also give them a precursor towrd the types of actions they be expecting during play.

Actual play examples of fluency would be a little harder. I had never really considered desighning the game in this way, and it would take some rigorous overhauling to get it functional in this manner. A step in the right direction might be to increase the interactivity of the characters sheet, with small notes scattered across it to jog the memories of players, and perhaps providing a few more "cheat sheets" that help to explain what is necessary in the different phases of the game.

I was aiming toward this anyway...I just wish I'd prepared these in advance for Gencon.

Brigaki Djili is a differenty beast altogether, and I'm really hoping to get a game that's playable on a few levels. Something that's as instinctive and intuitive as using a ouija board, and can be used ina s similar manner to divine the mysteries of the past and the hidden secrets of the stories being told.

I'm hoping for a single page of game mechanisms, written in a way that could be read out to a group as they start play. Then maybe a paragraph of text to be read with the passing of each round of play, expanding the complexity and revealing new depth as the story develops.

In all, no more than two pages of general rules. The rest is the immersive ritual to get people into the right frame of mind for communal storytelling, and guidelines for how to prevent the story deviating into unintended territories, or guides for keeping a consistent theme in a story.

Time to do some further research...
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