Wednesday, 25 October 2017

We Only Want What's Best For You

I ventured out into role-playing again last night for the first time in months; among other things, we found time for a game of The Vicar is Coming for Tea, which made me think about Game Poems once again, so here's a new one I've had a go at this morning.

This short game takes place in a Multi-Agency Meeting, where those present will decide what’s best for a troubled young person with a challenging life. Imagine the kind of issues that might lead to a meeting like this, but don’t specify them: given the subject matter that is likely to come up, be prepared to tackle sensitive issues.
Each player takes it in turn to state their role and their proposal for the young person in question: roles that may be present at the meeting are Teacher, Social Worker, Youth Offending Team Worker, Grandparent/Aunt/Uncle, Health Worker and Police Officer. Everyone present knows the young person and has had contact with them.

Once everyone has introduced themselves and outlined their proposal, prepare a set of paper tokens equal to the number of players: draw a smiley face on half of them and a frown on the other half. Place them in the centre of the table, within easy reach or all players, but move them about so that no-one knows which tokens are which.

Now you debate which proposal to accept for the young person’s future: everyone present will still interact with the young person in some capacity, no matter which proposal is accepted. During this debate, you may share something you know about the young person, adding a fact about them to the discussion: this might be as general as their age, gender or culture, but it may also be something specific to them or their history. You may use these details to add weight to a proposal or to argue against it, but when you add a detail, you must take a token from those remaining on the table. Look at it, then place it face down in front of you; you may only have one token, so you only get one chance to add a detail during the game.

Once the last token is taken, the game ends and all the players must reach a majority consensus on which proposal to implement: once this is decided, the player whose proposal is accepted flips their token over and reveals it. If a smiley face is revealed, they end the game by narrating how the course of action taken improves the young person’s life; if a frown is revealed, they end the game with a coda about the young person’s descent into a lifetime of trouble as a result of this.

Note #1: Tactically, once you know whether your proposal will have a good or bad outcome, it’s up to you how strongly you argue for or against it; this is just a game, so feel free to advocate for the type of ending to the story that you would like to see. You can’t withdraw your proposal, but you can throw your weight behind someone else’s.

Note #2: Multi-Agency Meetings are a familiar tool to anyone who has worked closely with young people in the UK, with the idea being to look at all aspects of the subject’s life and come up with a plan that benefits them the most. This game represents a vastly oversimplified version of the process.

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