Friday, November 8, 2013

Come Out and Play! by Sam Stafford

Come Out and Play SF is this weekend (as in, tomorrow), and when our benevolent media moguls asked if anyone wanted to go and write a thing about it, I thought, well, that would be a cruel thing to do, especially for our Bay Area readers, because then I would be writing about the things that you MISSED because you weren't there because you're only reading about it after the fact, and then it will be a whole year until the next one, so you will not be able to do anything with the information I have given you.
So, real quick before this year's Come Out and Play happens, I'm going to tell you about some of the things that I have experienced at Come Out and Play in past years. You reading about these things or seeing them on YouTube or whatever is not nearly as good as you actually playing them, because games are mainly for playing, not for reading about or watching, right? But I'll try to give you an idea.
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Did you know that the average Internet reader's attention starts to wander after about 150 words, and must be recaptured by showing them a picture or jangling some car keys at them or something? KITTENS!

There was Charge of the Light Brigade, a game of capture the flag dodgeball played with a hundred people and as many balls in the air at any given time, where one hit puts you out and you can't shoot while in enemy territory and so your only path to victory is selflessly hurling your defenseless bodies at your goal and hoping they can't kill you all before one of you makes it through. There was Propinquity, laser tag without the lasers, where you leech points by hovering your hand over the targets on the other player's body, and they are trying to do the same to you, and you move in a gracefully awkward dance around each other as you try to stay close and far away at the same time. There was Field Frogger, which is Frogger except it's life sized and the frogs are people and so is everything else. There was Wanted, a Western story of betrayal and pursuit orchestrated via text messages where at one point we were all running down an alley with squirt guns and cowboy hats and it was like that scene from Reservoir Dogs where everyone is pointing a gun at each other screaming about who's a rat and it was unscripted and amazing. There was Sixteen Tons, which would be a very simple board game about territory control except that the pieces are giant and each time it's your move everyone else bids to decide what you're going to do, so it's really about resource management and manipulation.

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Oh God that was way too many words. I didn't even have paragraph breaks. COWS!

Maybe you're thinking right now that some of these sound cool and you want to play them. Too late! You already missed them. Some of them were prototypes or one-time gameplay experiments perpetrated on an unsuspecting public. None of them are on the schedule this year. You cannot buy them in stores and play them at home. Do you understand? This is why you should go this weekend, because it only happens once a year, and there will be amazing games there that you have never heard of and that you will never have a chance to play again.

There will be some returning favorites, though. Saturday night is Journey to the End of the Night. I could write (and have written) quite a lot about Journey, but all I will say here is that it is right up there with D&D in terms of games that have had profound and far-reaching positive influences on my life and how I see the world, and I think everyone should experience it at least once. If you do Journey this year, you'll be able to find me at one of the checkpoints; come say hi. Sunday afternoon the festival wraps up with Jericho, which is sort of like Capture the Flag with Nerf guns but you play it in a city around a lot of other people and the players might be in disguise.

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These pickles could be up to anything. YOU DON'T KNOW.

Come Out and Play is free to attend, and it is happening all weekend. Check it out.

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