I recently got a chance to play The Quiet Year for the first time, and found it an excellent game. The group I played with, most of whom are not regular gamers and I've known only a few weeks, are chomping at the bit to play again soon. I definitely have learned lessons from the first runthrough, which I've posted about on Google+, but there was a deeper question that has been foxing me that I wanted to bring to this sharp community.
So, contempt. Its use seems clear enough when people talk about it and when I read about it. Still, in play I wondered if I was using it right. It boils down to this question, I think: when you play the game, should you be allowing your point of view to drift into sympathy with a particular faction - the faction that most represents your point of view, how you would approach things in the community? Or are you meant to be bringing your focus back to the birds-eye view, and representing the community as a whole?
For instance, as soon as a shaman figure was introduced into our game, with the decision/presumption that they would lead an expedition, I took a token, to reflect my own resentment that a formal authority figure would automatically shepherd the big events of the community. That's uncontroversially by the book, I think. Later, I was still sensitive to the perspective of this shaman-suspicious group, and picked up more contempt when they were ignored. But later still, an event happened that seemed to me to be sure to piss off the shaman-friendly faction, and I noted that and picked up contempt immediately.
It may be that all this is fine. But then, two things:
What does the fact that my endgame contempt pile is the biggest signify about our play? Hypothetically, it could signify that there was a particular faction that felt marginalised in the game, which would be an interesting take-away that we could discuss after the game. But the way I was playing that isn't so, as I took contempt for multiple perspectives, even opposing ones. I could only remember bits here and there - there was no 'narrative of grievance' that I was building that I could return to.
What does it mean to lose Contempt tokens by doing something selfish? How can an act be selfish if you hold no position? If I was allowing my position to canalise and identifying more with the anti-shaman crew, then for sure I could narrate a selfish event benefiting the anti-shaman position to the detriment of the rest. And that would make a ton of sense if those tokens were always being drawn by anti-shaman grievance. There would be a real cycle to things: A group with a grievance tends to act out. But I was trying to stick to the birds-eye view, so feeling "like I wasn't consulted or honoured" meant that anytime I got the sense that someone wasn't consulted, and no-one else had drawn a token, I took that as my cue.
Looking at the rules, we are entreated to "represent currents of thought within the community". This makes me think that I was leaning too hard on the birds-eye-view and that I should be happy to settle into sympathy with, eg, an anti-authoritarian element of the game. Not having played from that angle, though, I'm unsure whether that's functional.
Any thoughts, anyone?