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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 34 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: "A Man's Office" A game of Shakespearean gender rebellion.  (Read 903 times)
Joel P. Shempert
Member

Posts: 484


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« on: July 16, 2011, 12:40:37 AM »

Proto-idea:

When I read the ingredients, Daughter, Foresworn, & Nature stand out, and make me think of this:

"Is he not approved in the height a villain, that
hath slandered, scorned, dishonoured my kinswoman? O
that I were a man! What, bear her in hand until they
come to take hands; and then, with public
accusation, uncovered slander, unmitigated rancour,
--O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart
in the market-place."
...

"Princes and counties! Surely, a princely testimony,
a goodly count, Count Comfect; a sweet gallant,
surely! O that I were a man for his sake! or that I
had any friend would be a man for my sake! But
manhood is melted into courtesies, valour into
compliment, and men are only turned into tongue, and
trim ones too: he is now as valiant as Hercules
that only tells a lie and swears it. I cannot be a
man with wishing, therefore I will die a woman with grieving."


-Beatrice, Much Ado About Nothing, Act VI Scene I

I'm thinking of a game about women who are trapped or stifled by their gender role, and break free of it, damn the consequences. In the plays, no matter how sharp divergence, normalcy and social convention reassert themselves--comeuppance for a tragedy, reconciliation for a comedy. The aforementioned Beatrice, though she cajoles her lover Benedick to challenge his best friend Claudio, by the end of the play everyone's forgiven and everyone's happy, even her cousin Hero, who Claudio slut-shamed at the altar, is perfectly happy to marry the cad when he slinks on back with a "gosh sorry, I was wrong." And so with other plays: Lady MacBeth goes mad and dies as punishment for plotting regicide. Twelfth Night's cross-dressing Viola gets to marry her Duke when her ruse is revealed, while providing a twin brother for her admirer Olivia to marry. Everyone is sorted into neat little gendernormative categories by the final scene, or else they die.

But what if Viola didn't put on that dress and return to life as a woman? What if Beatrice did more than fuss and fume that she "cannot be a man with wishing?" I wanna see what happens when Viola chooses to live as a man, and love who she will, Duke OR Lady, or when Beatrice challenges Claudio to a manful duel, and carries it through!

That's all I've got so far, just a concept. Questions and concerns that arise right off:

  • What direction do I want to push gameplay? So you're an Elizabethan woman and you rebel against your gender role, now what? Do you get put down for it? Do you fuck up the whole patriarchal power structure? Do you simply carve out a space for yourself in an otherwise patriarchal world? And what game mechanisms would help determine all that?
  • I wonder if this is really the kind of game for a man to write. A game that specifically asks "what's it like to be a woman?" obviously benefits from a woman's voice. But then, I'm the one who's thought of it, so here I am.
  • As per usual in Game Chef, the main concern is whether there's enough of a game here. Is it just a fun idea I could do with existing rules? For instance, I could easily see simply playing Perfect: Unrevised, and saying "OK, all the Criminals will be women who rebell against gender strictures." Or is it really just my substitute for writing Much Ado fan fiction?

Questions and comments welcome.

Peace,
-Joel
[/list]
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Story by the Throat! Relentlessly pursuing story in roleplaying, art and life.
Hans Chung-Otterson
Member

Posts: 54


« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2011, 01:43:37 AM »

    • What direction do I want to push gameplay? So you're an Elizabethan woman and you rebel against your gender role, now what? Do you get put down for it? Do you fuck up the whole patriarchal power structure? Do you simply carve out a space for yourself in an otherwise patriarchal world? And what game mechanisms would help determine all that?
    • I wonder if this is really the kind of game for a man to write. A game that specifically asks "what's it like to be a woman?" obviously benefits from a woman's voice. But then, I'm the one who's thought of it, so here I am.
    • As per usual in Game Chef, the main concern is whether there's enough of a game here. Is it just a fun idea I could do with existing rules? For instance, I could easily see simply playing Perfect: Unrevised, and saying "OK, all the Criminals will be women who rebell against gender strictures." Or is it really just my substitute for writing Much Ado fan fiction?

    Questions and comments welcome.

    Peace,
    -Joel
    [/list]

    Hey Joel, just wanted to say: this excites me! Right away when having GC11 described to her, Brenda said, "You could do some fun gender-bending stuff with that!" (she's much more versed in the Bard than I am).

    Regarding your list:

    1. Ideally, any way the player(s) want? Right? The thing that excites me about this game-idea is finding out what happens when gender gets all bent to shit in a Shakespearean world. It seems like you're thinking the same thing, but "What direction do I want to push gameplay?" confuses me a bit. D'you mean, like, "what do I want my game to say about this stuff?"

    2. This is a good question to ask. But not the time to ask it. Take your week and then some to write a draft, and then think about it and talk about it. The game will probably change as you write it (though you'll know more about how designing works for you than I will), and then who knows? Maybe the question's not as relevant, or much more relevant.

    3. Ooh yeah, this would be cool in Perfect. But it can also be done really differently, with more breathing room (which Perfect doesn't have a lot of). For me, anyway, a game like the one you've described really screams to be done up on its own. And then if you make it and it doesn't seem to offer anything new or whatever, well, you have Perfect.

    Good luck! I've been furiously scribbling in my notebook all day...
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    Joel P. Shempert
    Member

    Posts: 484


    WWW
    « Reply #2 on: July 16, 2011, 01:16:45 PM »

    Thanks, Hans!

    1. Ideally, any way the player(s) want? Right? The thing that excites me about this game-idea is finding out what happens when gender gets all bent to shit in a Shakespearean world. It seems like you're thinking the same thing, but "What direction do I want to push gameplay?" confuses me a bit. D'you mean, like, "what do I want my game to say about this stuff?"

    Maybe the best way to state the question is "How will my game structure and guide interactions to best fit the theme?" Like, if you play this out in Perfect, you know it's going to go "crime, chase, capture, brainwashing, defiance or surrender." If you played it in, say, Archipelago, you're going to be playing scenes in a looser fashion, just exploring the story however, with an eye on a Destiny to guide you. or if I wrote a simple "roll + stat vs target number to succeed at tasks" ruleset, play would proceed...well like play proceeds in those games. So I've got this image--Beatrice really DOES eat Claudio's heart in the marketplace!--but no idea how my game will structure play around that image.

    2. This is a good question to ask. But not the time to ask it. Take your week and then some to write a draft, and then think about it and talk about it. The game will probably change as you write it (though you'll know more about how designing works for you than I will), and then who knows? Maybe the question's not as relevant, or much more relevant.

    Fair enough. I think I'm worried about investing a lot of time and energy only to figure out that I don't want to do a game like this without a woman's voice involved. But hey, here I am, so off to the races, right?

    3. Ooh yeah, this would be cool in Perfect. But it can also be done really differently, with more breathing room (which Perfect doesn't have a lot of). For me, anyway, a game like the one you've described really screams to be done up on its own. And then if you make it and it doesn't seem to offer anything new or whatever, well, you have Perfect.

    I think what all this is telling me is that I need to look for ways to approach this with an eye toward covering territory that Perfect doesn't. What do I have to say about this theme that Perfect doesn't say? Thinking, thinking.

    Peace,
    -Joel
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    Story by the Throat! Relentlessly pursuing story in roleplaying, art and life.
    Nathan P.
    Member

    Posts: 590

    emotional game design


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    « Reply #3 on: July 17, 2011, 05:58:53 AM »

    Fair enough. I think I'm worried about investing a lot of time and energy only to figure out that I don't want to do a game like this without a woman's voice involved. But hey, here I am, so off to the races, right?

    Better to write it and find out than not write it and wonder, I say! I mean, you're doing it anyway, but just another bit of encouragement.
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    Nathan P.
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