Never having the pleasure of taking part in a tabletop role playing game I must say that Fiasco was an interesting experience. My group, group 3, met up in the Starbucks at 7:00 P.M., awkwardly sat down and brought out our laptops to try and make sense of Fiasco’s rules. This was more challenging than anticipated. We spent over half and hour trying to set the darn game up! But this frustration was well rewarded: we wound up with whacky scenarios, weird settings, and bizarre characters to manipulate and play as. As a mainline and rather vanilla human being I laughed my butt off when the group member to my left set up our relationship as the drug dealer/manufacturer. I had no idea how to carry myself or handle myself in that role and it was fun for me to try and channel my inner Breaking Bad in order to create a more authentic character.
At the beginning of the game there was a general air of confusion and unease. We were all fidgety and had difficulties coming up with scenes and ideas; nobody had any idea how to react to each other or how to incorporate others into their plotlines. After we all gained more confidence and became more comfortable with one another we established our characters more and our scenes became more detailed. As the other characters and relationships came together and the plot began to solidify it was clear that there was some strange stuff happening in Antarctica. Also, we stopped being timid and began screwing each other over: There were stabbings and affairs and injuries, people lost limbs! Our plot was rather far-fetched but extremely entertaining. Anyone was perfectly capable of messing with everyone and we took full advantages of that, and in the end everyone died.
To me, this RPG is a step past a videogame. This is a game where you go beyond just navigating a character you become the character. You mold them, then assume their identity, and then, instead of just typing responses to other players or characters like one does in a videogame, you have to actually interact with the other players. Arguments get heated, fighting words are exchanged, and you can actually see how the actions and consequences affect all the people in the game. You have to look them in the eyes as you attempt to wreck their lives in order to better yours. This aspect of the game caught me off guard, I did not know how personally offended I would be when some imaginary character my character had a dysfunctional relationship with stabbed me in the back and tried to lead me to my doom. I also underestimated just how satisfying it was to come out on top, there was something about the claim that my character’s life sucked the least and that I was, in fact, victorious because I died last.
Fiasco definitely stressed the importance of learning objective Critical Thinking and Reading Results in Writing but in a very unconventional way. The definition of this objective on the website is “As they undertake scholarly inquiry and produce their own arguments, students summarize, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the ideas of others.” Though I was not dealing with a piece of literature or a videogame in this situation I had to focus and analyze and evaluate my opponents. Are the outcomes of their turns displaying any patters? What was their though process behind that last move? What’s their endgame? What does their character want? Once I came to a possible answer to some of these questions I would develop counter measures that I could institute in order to combat the actions they executed against me.
Fiasco, once I got past the frustratingly tedious task of setting up, was one of the most interesting things I have done in Read Write Play as of yet. I would like to take this moment to state for the record that I was extremely proud of myself though, because I died last! I rolled a black 11, which is a very good role by the way, so I did not just die, somebody did not come by and just kill me, I murdered the drug dealer and then decided to off myself as to avoid trouble with the authorities. (So to the fake RPG police in Mactown, mwuahahaha you can’t convict me of anything because I’m dead!)
Photo: Courtesy of Mady Arles