Tuesday, 9 March 2021



There are specific approaches to game design that are not so much a narrative as pretty much scripted. I am thinking of such classics as It came from the Late Late Show (Stellar Games 1989) where you play actors playing roles in a budget pulp horror/sci fi production. Its deliciously satirical and can boarder on the farcical as each player can call a timeout when their actor can throw a tantrum and walk off set in order to get a one off change to sway the outcome of a scene - basically you can successfully argue with the writers in order to change the outcome. In the case of the Late Late Show this is the very reason to play the game but when it comes to more serious games based on a TV series there has to be a tacit agreement between the players and the GM that there is a format and scene progression. Whilst this applies to scenarios in general as opposed to a sandbox approach, specific shows will have a much more formulaic and episodic basis for the context.

The current Star Trek run by GM Jon is a case in point. Whilst it is accepted that the show has fixed scenes, the joy, like the Late Late Show is in the actors interaction and development and the game is constructed in this regard from the bottom up as character experience is expressed more through a change in values not an increase in capability although the prior will influence the latter - a lazy lieutenant may let himself or his crewmates down but encounters and challenges may well shock him into a more sobering personality without particularly adding to his skill set.

Like most things in life one has to approach any given situation with the right frame of mind and as a more seasoned role-player I have no idea whether TV based games are the right systems to recommend to a beginner - expert game designers may well end up making games for other connoisseurs but if a brand is strong enough then of course people are invested before a game is even invented.

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