Minicon 50, part 3: Build a World!

I’ve been running this quite a bit at recent cons. It’s a lot of fun.

Build a World from Minicon 50We ended up with a world with some pretty weird physics: light moves in discrete packets, sound is faster than light, gravity is bouncy and time is like water. I occasionally had a hard time figuring out what all that meant. (This is a problem for worldbuilding: it still has to be something that the people involved can wrap their heads around. If your world assumes that triangles have four sides, you’re going to just have some serious contradictions to deal with.) We had some very silly elements: conflicts are handled by dance-off, Wile E’s law holds sway, and the ruling class are talking cats. (I don’t think I’ve yet had a game of this where talking cats didn’t come into it somehow. And not that I’ve been pressing this.) I enjoyed the detail of having to do prescribed dance moves up into the mountains to finish your pilgrimage to the Time Stream.

I tried to keep track of audience preferences via the “fist of five” method, where people show fingers to express their preference for an idea: five fingers = heavily in favor, zero finger = heavily opposed. But it’s hard to count fingers on the fly, so I ended up just doing thumbs up/down/sideways.

Another difficulty was that audience members kept slipping in and out, so folks who showed up later didn’t quite get what we were doing. It is difficult to get a social contract working in a game at a con; it is even more difficult to get one working when the players keep shifting. So that was an annoyance.

Finally, we ran out of time. I forgot what the time slot was — we actually had fifteen minutes more than we did — but we also got started late due to lack of audience at the beginning, and then things went slow because of the shifting audience. (See: social contract problems.) We only got about three categories finished, where we usually get five or six. Still, it was fun while it lasted.

I’m still curious if this game can work in a serious mode. I don’t think I’ve had one where it didn’t go goofy pretty much right away. Would a strict requirement that all following elements have to work with all previous elements change this? I might never find out, because people seem to enjoy goofy iterations of the game, and that’s what the audience seems to push for.

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