Original post: http://www.electro-gn.com/6194-critique-mad-about-the-boy-partie-3-et-fin
Translation: Leïla Teteau-Surel
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Mad about the boy is a game of Grandeur Nature Nordic role in which a disaster has struck the men of the land surface. Women survived and a pilot program will allow some of them to carry a child, through the government that controls sperm banks. Find the previous parts of this article here.
In this final section, we will focus on the use of the blackbox – you will know what Isaak, the surviving man, did during Act 1 of this game. The last point ‘l be about the debriefing methods.
During the time of the game, a space is dedicated to the blackbox. This room is isolated from the rest of the game : it doesn’t exist in the universe of the game. Players can go at any time inside, alone or in a group to play scenes from their past, a projection in the future of their characters, but also nightmares, or even to discuss off-game their expectations for the rest of the game.
In flashbacks scenes it’s possible that some male characters appear. Fathers, husbands, children who have disappeared can be called in this area at the players’ request. They will be played by the player who will be Isaak during Act 2.
When Isaak comes into play, he carries with him the images of all men these women knew. Positive and negative images : he’is the child, the boyfriend, the attacker…
It’s one of the simplest and brightest ideas of the game.
I guess you got how strong it could be for the players. But also think that Isaak’s player comes into play after missing the entire Act 1. He doesn’t know the dynamics inside and between the groups of women. But he knows their memories, their sorrows, their dreams and aspirations. He’s equipped to play with each of them and create scenes that echo with the ones played in the blackbox.
Debriefing / The message of the game
I come back to two points that I found particularly interesting during the debriefing of the game.
First, the debriefing takes place in small groups to ensure that everyone can express themselves about the game. Questions are open and encourage players to talk about positive sides as wells as negative ones. What did you like, and like less ? The organizers take notes and the next run ‘ll be improved on the feedback basis. The best ideas, the best scenes could be suggested to future runs’ players. An exercise I’d like to see more often in larps.
Moreover, there’s a workshop in small groups that I enjoyed and its relevance surprised me. The objective was to answer three questions at once to become “not only a better person but also a better player.”
Is there something about your character that you would like to bring with you in real life? A behavior? An habit? A trait?
Conversely, is there something common between you and your character you want to leave behind with this character ?
Finally, tell about someone that played well and gave material to play on to others. Think about how to reproduce it in other games.
I don’t know if the exercise of thinking about your last important larp and try to answer these questions will be relevant. But in a larp as close to us as Mad About The Boy, these questions certainly helped me to make a strong introspection.
I myself have been very sensitive about the game, but what makes this larp rich is precisely that larps are a great vehicle for science-fiction. The reflection created by the game about gender, masculinity, femininity and cultural construction is fascinating and it’s not a message delivered on a plate by an author but a group reflection that emerges from the larp . The purpose will be different for everyone, depending on the character you play, on your knowledge of gender studies, on your sensitivity to the issue of gender equality. And the larp comes up as a tool for writing and reflecting that brings players with their different backgrounds to face together with these issues under the alibi of a very intelligent, accessible and moving story.
The French version
The game will be run in France in 2014!
If you want to find an intelligent and realistic anticipation game, playing with a heavy but exciting theme, if you want to try using a set of techniques and a Nordic design, I strongly encouraged you to pre-register.
The Association eXperience will run at least one session. We do not know yet if the game will be mixed or if all female roles ‘ll be played by female players only but pre-registration is open to both men and women. I hope we‘ll organize several runs.
The game is currently being translated. You can join the team if you are interested.
Mad About The Boy – Session 1 – Sweden, 2013
Produced by Morgan Jarl, Annika Waern, Ulrika Wiborgh
Written by: Margrete Raaum, Tor Kjetil Edland and Trine Lise Lindahl