Meaningful interactive experiences for large groups - how? This was a session at the role-playing games and theatre satellite event in June; it was called by Chloe Mashiter (and I've since lost the list of people who attended, apologies!) - I was interested in how to try and replicate the experiences I have playing games at home for larger groups (since home games typically consist of 4-7 people). I specified *meaningful* as, for me, this is a huge part of home games - the fact your interaction and participation isn't arbitrary choices, and what happens happens very much in response to you specifically and what you do. *How* - the logistics of larger groups:- You can try to work with a group of facilitators/game masters running things, though then there has to be impeccable communication between them all (I was reminded of Ontroerend Goed's Lies, with different groups of audience at different tables, each run by one performer - but part of the point of that show is how the system will break and this can't be prevented by one person's actions)- You can try and have groups of people making decisions for one character (this raises questions about how to still maintain meaningful-ness for everyone involved)- There's always a given amount of time needed for people to get to know characters, the world, to get to know the rules of what they're playing within. People need to know the parameters of interaction, and this can include whether unspoken societal rules still obtain in the ruleset of the performance or not.- This is especially important in that you need to *empower people to have a sense of knowing what they can do* (open-ended interaction can be intimidating and confusing, if it leaves you going 'but what do you want me to do?')- You can run workshops before events to introduce people to these rules - but also giving them a chance to work through them practically, so it's not just theory and they're slowly inducted into it- Expressing yourself will always take up time; the more people you're inviting to express themselves, the more time this will take (yes, it might be a format that they can concurrently express themselves in, but this should still be considered)- People need to know what they're getting themselves in for. - There's also the time that's sometimes taken for people to create roles - as happens in some immersive shows for audience members who each have a character.*What* - designing games/experiences for groups:- You can start with 'what experience do you want people to have?' and then work backwards- Recurring experiences can be very satisfying and also over time reduce the time needed to introduce rules and suchlike- Consider the investment that people make in such games - with time, energy, money, effort, creativity...(this also translates into a potentially different relationship to the theatre-maker than otherwise)- We spoke about communal vs individual meaningful interaction - whether it can be as part of a group (like the congregation at a Sunday Assembly) or it needs to be you, as an individual, doing something different to everyone else. - *Meaningful* can just be something that's not a waste of time. Making you laugh or smile is meaningful. It doesn't have to re-coordinate your worldview to be meaningful.- Remember to consider whether you have a narrative(s) for people to move through or are creating the conditions for one to be made...*Why* - the purpose/benefit/draw of such experiences:- They can be incredibly catharrtic - both in that you can explore known/familiar things in a safe environment, and that you can explore things totally alien to you as well.- I was asked why people came to play in Adventurers Wanted, a Dungeons & Dragons-based show I staged last year, answers included: some people always run games and rarely have a chance to play themselves; some people wanted to show their friends/family/partners what this 'thing' they like so much is; some people enjoyed being part of such a big tribe of players and enthusiasts; some people enjoyed the escape from the Fringe itself and its stresses; some people enjoyed it as a very social thing to be a part of; some people were curious, having never played before; some people just happened to be players who enjoyed the chance to play; some people watched the game and then wanted to become involved; some people enjoyed the chance to play *a lot* over a very compact period of time - we were playing for 250hrs over a month, which meant people got to know characters in-depth much more quickly than usual- Experiences such as this can help to combat loneliness, since they have a huge aspect of membership to them, of inducting people and welcoming them into a group*Who* - the performers/participants involved and questions about them:- There's typically, with interactive game-like experiences, a line drawn to differentiate character and performer (/player, if you're thinking about the audience)- Some audience members/participants/players/etc might not want to interact as much as others - how do you build into your experience the opportunity to take a backseat? Or being able to walk away entirely? - Remember that you need to work in ways that it's clear what's okay for performers to do to/with audience (mentioned shows that have coloured wristbands if people don't want to be touched, or are claustrophobic, etc) - this led into a conversation about care for people, such as privately knowing players' triggers so as not to accidentally include them in games, and having safety mechanics in games, and how to try and make clear that allowing something to happen in a narrative (as narratives that are generated in gameplay can feel more 'real' in some ways) isn't necessarily endorsing it. A significant chunk was talking about this tricky element of delineating the game world and real world, and making it both a positive and safe environment where various subjects and ideas can be explored or discussed.