Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Talecraft - Story Creation Game

Talecraft--it's a game, and yet, it's not.

The premise of a game, at least, the first that comes to my mind, is one of competition. Sports are prime examples. You keep score, and at the end, when either time's up or enough sets, rounds, or innings have passed, the one with the most points, wins. Outside of sports, classic board games like chess and backgammon have specific goals for victory, as do younger but no less common games like Monopoly or Clue. To win is still the goal.

The last time I rolled the dice for a role-playing game, I was a freshman in college. Forced to choose between keeping up with my homework and playing, I chose the former, and put my characters and rule books away after the first semester. But I still remember what it's like to play, and though the makers of such games as Dungeons and Dragons say that everyone wins in playing the adventure, you still feel like a loser when that wandering monster skewers you with his spear or when you fail that saving throw versus poison. You still want to win by grabbing the treasure and getting back home, safe.

So Talecraft took me by pleasant surprise because, really, there's little, if any, competition. At least in the traditional sense. You're not trying to beat someone in this game.

It's called a "story-creation game", and that's as apt a definition as you can find. Through the use of a series of specific prompts, as drawn from decks of cards, you're supposed to come up with your own original story. The cards you draw will specify which genre(s) your story should tackle, what type of character(s) or archetypes should be in it, and what item(s) should be found in the story. You're given five minutes, sometimes more, sometimes less, and once you're done weaving the tale in your head you're to share it with the other players.

It's a "game" right? So where's the "winning"? I asked that of Ria Lu, the creator of the game, and she said that, if necessary, a judge or a panel can decide who came up with the best story (by dropping coins in a cup; just like being paid! The better your story, the more coins you get!) But really, the story-telling is the goal. As it says in their "About" page, "Talecraft aims to promote creative thinking through story creation" and "to help writers generate ideas for stories." You get to make up your own tales, share them with friends, and hear their stories too. The game is one big imagination prompt.

Talecraft has a series of workshops through the Sundays of May, 2008, 1 p.m., at Powerbooks SM Megamall. Each workshop will focus on a specific genre (fantasy, horror, scifi, and romance). Admission is free, and if you have any questions about the game or the workshops, feel free to email them anytime.


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