Training other people to be you after you die - the game.

Started by Ice Cream Emperor, April 08, 2012, 10:53:03 AM

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Ice Cream Emperor

Aka the anxiety of parenting, redux.

Actually I lied, there isn't really a game yet, but I thought I would trick myself into making one by starting a thread and posting my bullshit brainstorming to it. Apparently Jackson is already doing this -- which makes me a mimic - which means Jackson is somehow already playing my game (and winning) and I haven't even designed it yet.


Last Chance

"You can't step in the same river twice."

The men and women who played this game are lost to us; we are what they have made to take their place.

Last chance because when the game ends the secret police will come and take you away -- you will never be heard from again.


Players must learn to mimic each other's behaviour.

Players try to create versions of themselves by encouraging others to mimic their actions (and, obliquely, thoughts.) They set situations and judge results? Is it a 1-for-1 (one player mimicking one other player) or do all players collaborate to mimic each other? Is it a 2 player game? Is it a 1 player game?

Distributed mimickry – the goal is to spread different parts of yourself among the other players, in case one of them is killed, or one of them is the Coyote (see below)? Ref: memorization of poetry in Communist regimes.

The impossibility of seeing beneath the surface – the imperfection of the surface as a substitute for this concern.


A carrion-eater, Coyote is always hungry. What humans eat, he wants to eat. What humans drink, he wants to drink. What humans have and do and love and laugh and dream about and leave lying around the house and throw absently out the window of their moving cars – he wants to eat and drink that too.

If Coyote is clever or laughing or sly or a trickster it is only because he is trying to hide how hungry he is. If Coyote understands how we really are it is like how a butcher understands a pig – how to slice and cut and take us apart so that the tastiest parts are revealed.

Coyote – a GM role? Coyote as a false mimic? A traitor-player? An informer (in dystopic regime?) Most players mimic in good faith but what Coyote imitates he will later consume?


Tamper with. Tamper with memories, tamper with ourselves? Doctoring the books?

Diagnosis? A trustworthy figure – in relation to Coyote? Meh, we have enough roles.

Doctorates - figures of authority. Academics.


"And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:"

Magic lanterns: primitive image projection devices. Imperfect, the quality of the image depends on the brightness of the lamp. (Initially candles, then limelight, moving on to electric bulbs, etc.) Ref: Proust, the insomniac child with the magic lantern/nightlight, moving images across the wall.

A handheld source of light -- the only thing we take with us, when we run? The thing we gather around, to play our game?

Throwing shadows on a cracked concrete wall, since all the buildings here are concrete and all the walls here are cracked.

Do players do something with light sources? With shadow puppets?

~ Daniel

Ice Cream Emperor

Okay so the game I am starting to think about is based on the dissemination and memorization of texts in Stalinist Russia, poetry in particular. Poems were recited to a select group of trustworthy people and each would memorize the poem - or in the case of a longer poem, each might memorize a section - at which point the original text, if there was one, would be destroyed. Entire bodies of work were preserved in this way, most notably most of the poems of Osip Mandelstam, memorized in part by Nadezdha Mandelstam, Anna Akhmatova, etc. One such poem - which criticized Stalin - was somehow leaked to the authorities, resulting in his imprisonment (then release, then eventual re-imprisonment and death.) Which is to say, there were informants. Some of the people who are memorizing your work are not your friends after all.

Now take this concept and instead of poems insert your self - your personality, your thoughts, your beliefs, who you are. The you who you are will not leave this game alive - the you who you are will only play this game once, because tomorrow the you who you are will be taken away. The only way that who you are is going to survive is if you teach someone else to be who you are -- so that when the you who you are dies, the they who you are will carry on.

But it's not easy to teach people how to be you. For one thing, they're already them. For another thing, who are you anyways? You don't have much time so where will you start? Will you show them how to walk like you, the funny little skip you sometimes do when taking the stairs two at a time? Will you show them how to talk like you, the "ummmm"s and "well actually" and idiomatic phrases and grammars and personal little syntactical jokes and endless digressions and sentences that sometimes just take forever -- I mean really, drainingly forever -- to come to an end? Or will you show them how to be kind like you, or cruel like you, or see the beauty that you see - to cry at the same part of the movies you cry at, to fall in love with the same men and women you always fall for? And how will you know that they've really got it right - how will you know that they're the you that you are, and not just playing a role?

And how will you know they won't wake up tomorrow and take the you that they are down to the police station and turn the you that they are in to the authorities, so that it gets locked up too? How do you know they won't take the part of you that you gave them and throw it into the ocean, or dash out its brains with a rock, or get so hungry in the middle of the night that they just can't help swallowing it up in a single desperate gulp?

Well anyways, it sounds like we might be onto a name. The Them That You Are?

~ Daniel


Wow, there's something about your concept that reminds me of Lois Lowry's The Giver. The collective memories of a people were in the mind and heart of one man, and his job was to give all of them to a boy who became the Receiver of Memories. I like where your idea is headed, keep up the good work! =)

Jonathan Walton

Reminds me of Sandman: The Kindly Ones,

All around me darkness gathers,
Fading is the sun that shone,
We must speak of other matters,
You can be me when I'm gone

Flowers gathered in the morning,
Afternoon they blossom on,
Still are withered in the evening,
You can be me when I'm gone.


Totally stoked to teach people about my idiosyncrasies and get them to mimic me.
If you take that out of your game i'll just have to do it without a system to support.

Very exciting! Really stoked to see what aspects of this you draw out of these idea blocks
and thread into the process of playing the game, the "what we actually do".
sure of ourselves, aren't we?


When I read the title of your thread my first thought was "Dammit! He always gets the best ideas."
Then I shook my fist and did other things. Today I came back and read it. I'm excited!


This sounds like it'll be really beautiful and heartbreaking to watch if you have the players dying one by one too.  I'd be curious to see what kinds of mechanics you're using.


So wait, how long does the chain go for? If I train you to be me after I die, then do you train someone to be you after you die, in effect training them to be me, and so on? I could have an army.


You have to do the same thing the poets did. Like a poem, there are bits of you that are more than the sum of your parts. Words in a poem have certain connotations, they invoke responses in the person viewing them.  You just have to do the same thing with yourself. Find pieces that invoke you.

Maybe this is a scavenger hunt:


Father, Mother, Enemy (who destroys you), Lover, A book you read, A thing you wrote.

Okay, so this post is not actually helpful. I still enjoyed thinking about this, so screw you guys.