Ask me questions re: Awkward (don't have to be awkward questions)

After a year or so of playing it with a variety of people in a variety of places (and laughing the roof off the house on most occasions), I'm finally almost done writing down a manual for my next game: "Awkward".

Elephant.hortus.sanitatis

It's coming soon. Real soon. If you're sitting idly at your computer, bored and looking for something to do, why don't you ask me questions about it? What do you want to know?

Comments

  • What about the game entices you most sexually - is it your scintillating prose, or rather your co-players?
  • What about the game entices you most sexually - is it your scintillating prose, or rather your co-players?
    It's a bit narcissistic, really: my own brilliant performances as the Play Director! Which is a role adapted from how I like to play the "GM" in the classic Jeepform scenario Doubt.
  • Awkard ? Whats it about
  • Awkard ? Whats it about
    Thank you for asking! I'm posting quotations from the manual as the answer:
    What’s This About?
    Present time, real world, just a regular evening.
    There are two characters who are good friends, but – for whatever reason – can’t often spend time together. You’ll give them a name when you play, but in these rules we just reference them as ‘X’ and ‘Y’.
    X and Y are both adults, currently single, and they are or at least appear to be (according to the society at large, no matter how they feel themselves) of different genders. There’s no romance going on between them: they’re just good friends.
    There are two more characters to this story: X’s parents, whom Y is just about to meet for the first time. For whatever reason (the details are left for the players to establish), both friends are going to spend the night – or possibly multiple nights – at X’s parents’ house. This game is all about the awkwardness of that first evening together, when Y has just arrived and is getting to know X’s family.
    It’s awkward because of course the parents are incorrectly assuming that X and Y are actually a couple!
    Playing Awkward usually involves funny characters, humorous situations and loud laughs, but you may encounter less comfortable, more bittersweet moments as well. These “deeper” facets of your play experience may turn out to be just as pleasurable as its comical sides, maybe more. Comedy and ridicule have long been both upheld and dreaded as powerful tools to effect (or to prevent) change from within societies.
  • Tell me more about being the Play Director, and why you like it so much.
  • Tell me more about being the Play Director, and why you like it so much.
    Besides being the only non-acting audience to their play (which is very rewarding in itself, as what happens on stage is usually hilarious and exciting) I love interacting with players through the Uncomfortable Chair technique. You get to pick some piece of character of situation which they offered to the group in the first place and point the lights on it so that it gets developed more. It's all about contributing to the overall play experience without introducing content of your own, and making the biggest effect with the least intervention. It's subtle: the hardest role in the game to perform well, but effortless if you do perform it well.
  • How much autobiograpichal is this game?
    (NB: I tried it and the game rocks!)
  • How much autobiograpichal is this game?
    (NB: I tried it and the game rocks!)
    It's not autobiographical at all. But it is pseudo-biographical, in a way: based on a conversation with a friend about something which could have happened.

  • Nice. Tell me more about the Uncomfortable Chair technique. Is it something you came up with for this Awkward game, or is it a well-known technique in other circles?

    What differentiates between doing it well and doing it, well, awkwardly?
  • edited April 2015
    Bit late to this party [deposits six-pack of beer on kitchen table]. I like this idea, which reminds me a bit of Emily Care Boss's game Breaking The Ice, but with more, er, awkwardness. Seriously, social awkwardness is a great subject for a game, and I'm already second guessing you by thinking of how I would tackle it (but I'm sure your way will be miles better lol).

    My question for you is: Is there any mechanical way the situation is made awkward, or is it entirely player generated? And, if the latter, what is there to stop the PCs from not being awkward, given that it's awkwardness that you want to in a way encourage in order to explore it? Not sure any of that makes sense :p

    Oh, and I can just imagine the hoots of derision were I to post about designing such a game in the main UK-based RPG forum that I'm a member of lol/cry.
  • Nice. Tell me more about the Uncomfortable Chair technique. Is it something you came up with for this Awkward game, or is it a well-known technique in other circles?
    I call it the "uncomfortable" chair because, when you're in it, all eyes are on you. I usually describe it as a reality TV "confession booth" rendered as a jeepform-style meta-technique. It's closely based on what I've seen some Doubt GMs do between scenes, made systematic and a central focus of play. After designing Awkward I also employed this technique with little change (and I daresay successfully) in another game, which so far has only been played/playtested once.
    What differentiates between doing it well and doing it, well, awkwardly?
    This is the hardest thing to articulate in writing, actually, and that last section of the book I'm not yet finished writing is mostly about it. I can only hope my prose will be effective enough at the task of "teaching" this most important technique. My hopes are high, though, because the technique is not, in itself, a difficult one, and I trust my average reader to be a brilliant learner.
    My question for you is: Is there any mechanical way the situation is made awkward, or is it entirely player generated? And, if the latter, what is there to stop the PCs from not being awkward, given that it's awkwardness that you want to in a way encourage in order to explore it? Not sure any of that makes sense :p
    Yes and no. Mostly, the awkwardness is inherent in the starting situation and reinforced through the details of character creation. All players are empowered to further ramp it up (the Director, too, can try and do so via some skillful uncomfortable chair use). And the ending condition for the game is that the situation does feel awkward from the viewpoint of all characters involved, at last, so it's sort of rules-mandated as opposite to rules-enforced.
  • edited April 2015
    My question for you is: Is there any mechanical way the situation is made awkward, or is it entirely player generated? And, if the latter, what is there to stop the PCs from not being awkward, given that it's awkwardness that you want to in a way encourage in order to explore it? Not sure any of that makes sense :p
    Yes and no. Mostly, the awkwardness is inherent in the starting situation and reinforced through the details of character creation. All players are empowered to further ramp it up (the Director, too, can try and do so via some skillful uncomfortable chair use). And the ending condition for the game is that the situation does feel awkward from the viewpoint of all characters involved, at last, so it's sort of rules-mandated as opposite to rules-enforced.
    Got you. I like the distinction you draw between 'rules-mandated', i.e. - I think I'm right in saying - prompted by the set-up, and rules enforced, i.e. (again with previous caveat) dictated by the GM/Director.

    And I'm totally stealing the idea of the Big Brother-style hot seat, in fact I think it would work very well in Disgraceful, my 1920s-set game of moral dilemmas. Hell, I can see it having enormous utility in numerous games, so much so that I'm starting a breakout thread.
  • Released, at last! Download Awkward for free (and free-as-in-freedom).
  • Very nice, Rafu! I may place this sometime, if I can gather the right crowd.

    One typo: the past of "to stick" is "stuck", not "sticked" (footnote, page 6).
  • One typo: the past of "to stick" is "stuck", not "sticked" (footnote, page 6).
    Thanks!
  • if I can gather the right crowd.
    I'm of course prejudiced, but hear me: of all games I've designed in my life, Awkward is probably the one I've run the most times with the widest variety of people playing. It was run in 2-hour slots at conventions, outdoors events, and as an after-dinner party game with family & friends. No kidding!
    Maybe it's just Italians, but the subject of the game always made it a very easy sell around here.
  • Very true!

    I think it's the hardcore gamers who might have the most difficult time with it, in contrast...
  • I think it's the hardcore gamers who might have the most difficult time with it, in contrast...
    I don't disagree. I mean, I've played it with "hardcore gamers" who did a great job playing it, but never in a group having that outlook exclusively (unless you count experimental larpers as hardcore gamers, I guess). It was always in some kind of environment where curiosity or enthusiasm for the game prevailed, which set a base ground for playing.
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