Friday, October 03, 2003

Telling Tiny Stories

(from's Top 50 list, I discovered LooneyLabs, a "that hippie game company," and it turns out they've got a storytelling game, Nanofictionary.

I haven't bought the game --yet,-- but I can see how storytellers would have a competitive advantage playing in a group of non-storytellers. It seems to be a game that writers could enjoy, and improv folks would certainly find it easy (not sure what the intersection of gamers and improv folks is).

I'd love to see this played among a group of storytellers.

Three potential problems, and I'll confess this right off: I haven't read all the game's rules. This is just based on what I've found at a Nanofictionary fan site.

  1. The "Resolution" card. Given that this is a card game, and you're randomly or strategically collecting story elements (Action, Character, Setting, etc)... a randomly drawn Resolution is going to come across as just that: random. And what defines a story is that its narrative elements belong together (i.e., it's not a random list). A resolution comes out of everything that has gone before. So, yes, a storyteller or improviser could invent a satisfying resolution, given a random list of characters and settings and a problem.... but to leave it up to the cards is like asking a football team to hustle the ball down to the end zone but wait on the 1 -yard line for new instructions.
  2. The "It was all just a dream" card would cause any self-respecting writer or storyteller to have a hissy fit and set the game pieces on fire.
  3. I'll let the story speak for itself (this submitted as a favorite):
    A long time ago, in a submarine below the surface, there was an inner-city school girl, the guy in the apartment upstairs, and the mentally and physically retarded black cat. The girl had a rifle, the guy had grenades, and the cat had a sniper gun. The smart scientists were going to give the girl homework, the guy a life, and put the cat in a mental home, but they got caught red handed. They were never seen again and a statue was built in the girl, guy, and cat's honor.
$17 from Looney Labs.

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