[Coyotesong] Game Chef review by Mael

Started by Mael, April 21, 2012, 05:19:06 PM

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Chef: Joel P. Shempert
Title: Coyotesong: a Game of Leaving
Link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-4-ngDh2J_4jPJOvmKrAO11dmdk2mnrBnp3s1T19OE4/edit
Elevator Pitch: A personal ritual game to play, with friends or alone, to say farewell to a place or context you are leaving.
Wordcount: 1011
Eligibility: "That's not a roleplaying game!" Er, I mean, yes.


Is that even a game ?
The first thing that struck me is that Coyotesong doesn't feel like a game. It's beautiful, poetic, well-written, and I believe that depending on people and events, it can produce something truly magical. But something bothered me ...

So, I tried to ask myself: what's a game exactly ?
I've had a quick look here (not really extensive researchs, I admit) : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game
Many definitions of game include the notion of "challenge" or "conflict", and that would disqualify Coyotesong, but arguably some RPGs as well, so what else ?
According to Roger Caillois, a game must have the following characteristics:
- fun: the activity is chosen for its light-hearted character
- separate: it is circumscribed in time and place
- uncertain: the outcome of the activity is unforeseeable
- non-productive: participation does not accomplish anything useful
- governed by rules: the activity has rules that are different from everyday life
- fictitious: it is accompanied by the awareness of a different reality

In my opinion, no problem with "fun", "separate", "uncertain" and "governed by rules" here.

But, is Coyotesong really "non-productive" ? I have the feeling that the ritual described here has a strong social role (and more importantly, is intended to): it helps some people to actually leave a place or a context ...

Also, as Coyotesong's is about actual events in which the participants are involved, I believe the "fictitious" characteristic is missing either.

That being said, I don't think that disqualifies this attempt for Game Chef. As the rules says, "[...] submit any crazy hybrid game you like, as long as the peer-reviewers and judges will be able to understand and potentially play your game [...]". So let's continue.

"Design your game as if it might only be played once"
It is answered beautifully, to the point it is almost frustrating - the ritual is designed for very specific events, so you can't just say "come on guys, I'm in the mood for some Coyotesong this night" ! You just can't do it if there's not a great change coming in your life.

- Coyote: used, but mainly in the example given - nevertheless, it strongly contributes at setting the mood (not even speaking about the title)
- Lantern: yup, as a really appropriate accessory
- Mimic: not sure I really understood how this one is included...
- "Lose with class": considering that when we leave a place, we "lose" something about it, that's ok - actually, I really like this "out of context" use of the thread title

Things I really liked
- poetic and well written
- beautifully simple
- very original, honest and brave

Things I didn't get
I'm not sure if the "second player", when answering the question, is supposed to "impersonate" the event as he hears it (like some kind of medium - maybe that could be where the "Mimic" ingredient is used), or just to tell everyone what he has heard (or has made up).
Both could be appropriate, but going "I will miss ..." may have completely different meaning that "the coyotes will miss ...", and depending on the relationships between people, can lead to some awkwardness - but maybe that's intended.
Or maybe the second player is just supposed to answer the question without making a full sentence, like "What will you miss most?" "... the sound of your footsteps, the color of your hair" (yeah, it kind of reminded me The Little Prince).

This part is really about me and how I feel about what I have readed - I don't judge anything, it is not intended to be offensive in any way.
As I said before, I'm not sure if Coyotesong is really a game, but I've been touched by its beauty and simplicity. That's a very personal and deep game.
Talking about it to my girlfriend, she mentioned Dead Poets Society.
So I say, there's sensibility, love of beauty, and contemplation, in a word "poetry", inside Coyotesong.
On the other hand, I don't think I will ever play it. At first, because the opportunity has to be here, but more importantly because if I were about to leave something forever, I wouldn't rely on any rule or system to tell me how to act - but the things I read could inspire me.
In a sense, I think that your attempt could almost benefit from dropping the rules.

Anyway, thank you for the letting me hear the coyotes' song.