What Does That Mean? (15 minutes)
3-5 players with internet-enabled smartphones, a dictionary,
or the Tough Words handout
1. Using the methods below, choose a difficult word, one you think the others will not know. Do not share your word or its meaning with the others in the group.
If you have an internet connection on your phone:
Visit http://phrontistery.info/ihlstart.html and click on the letter that begins your first name to choose a word.
If you’re fresh out of internet: Use a paper dictionary or the tough word handout that follows this text.
2. In this game, you will play a group of best friends out for a cocktail for the first time in a long time. Choose one word from each of the following lists to develop your character:
A profession: carpenter, artist, scientist, business person, driver A personality: thoughtful, brave, fun-loving, sarcastic, bitter
A relationship status: married, single, dating
A sexual orientation: straight, gay, bi, pansexual, asexual
How much ease do they feel with technology? A lot? A little?
3. Briefly introduce your characters to one another. Decide how they all know one another and why they are best friends.
4. You will play the scene out for drinks twice. Each scene will last exactly five minutes—set a timer. The first time, find a way to work your vocabulary word into the conversation. When you hear a word you don’t know the meaning of, try to figure it out from context and continue the conversation.
At the end of five minutes, choose new words and play the scene again. Set the timer. When you hear a word you don’t know the meaning of, whip out your phone and look it up.
5. Discuss your experience with your co-players. Did anything change?
Big Brother Is Watching You (15-45 minutes)
For 3-4 players with internet-enabled smartphones
1. Look through the last ten emails you have sent. Select one that is typical of you and that you would feel comfortable reading aloud to the group.
2. Select someone to be the first Consumer. Everyone else will play a Marketer. The Consumer will read their email—including the subject line—aloud to the group. The Marketers will use this email as inspiration. Perhaps it communicates something about the Consumer’s demographic. Perhaps it suggests a particular product or service that might benefit them. The Marketers will discuss these matters briefly (1 to 3 minutes) as if making a marketing pitch. They should consider which product or products they might sell to the Consumer, and what marketing methods would be most useful.
It’s OK to be silly here . Some of the emails might be content-less, so it’s OK to parse them down to “depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is” levels of absurdity.
3. Repeat until everyone has been the Consumer.
4. During the next rounds, you may use the same emails, or choose new ones.
Round 2: Instead of Consumer and Marketer, now you will be the Beloved and the Voices of Jealousy that exist in the head of their suspicious partner. The Beloved reads the email aloud, and the Voices of Jealousy debate the ways in which this email shows all the ways in which the Beloved has let them down. Continue until all have played the Beloved.
Round 3: Now you are Suspected Terrorist and National Security Agents. The Suspected Terrorist reads their email aloud. The Agents discuss the national security implications of this email, along with which part of the email seems most suspicious.
*If you selected an encrypted email, you win!
Three tips for playing nanolarps like this:
1. You don’t have to talk in a funny voice.
2. Don’t block—say “yes and . . . ,” as this is a basic rule of improvisation that helps participants build interesting fiction
together. If I say, “It’s raining,” and you say “no it’s not,” then it’s hard to know where to go next in the scene. If you say, “yes, and it reminds me of the time we buried Greg . . .” then the scene has a place to go.
3. Consent is the cornerstone of a good experience. Aim for enthusiastic consent in the games you play, and if it wanes during the game, feel free to stop early.
Budget five–plus minutes after each game to discuss your experience with your co-players.