Solitaire RPGs That Create In Fiction Artifacts
by Josh T. Jordan — North Forney High School
November 07, 2016 – 12:34
In January 2011, RPG designers Emily Care Boss, Evan Torner, Robert Bohl, and Epidiah Ravachol, issued a game design challenge called the RPG Solitaire Challenge. The goal was for participants to create single-player tabletop or live action roleplaying games. On top of the general challenge, each judge had specific challenge categories, that is, additional game design constraints. Judge Robert Bohl’s challenge categories both took the single-player games and transformed them into collaborative storytelling experiments. Since January 2011, several tabletop and live action game designers, such as Jackson Tegu and J Li have created games that fit Bohl’s categories. These are both single-player rpgs and collaborative storytelling experiments. The video featured here is one such game, Banana Chan’s "They’re Onto Me," which recently won the Golden Cobra Award for "Best Pervasive Game" because it " is a single player game that explores the boundaries of pervasive play over a period of 4 convention days or 12 regular days." The player of this game posts a series of video diaries online over several days. Each video records part of the fictional character’s experience with alien parasites. Robert Bohl’s categories are "Unlonely Your Fun" and "ARG! RPGS! (Or the Andy Kaufman Challenge)." Bohl challenges participants in the first category to "[d]esign a game around the fun things you can do with RPGs by yourself, but make it so that this material touches on the experiences of others playing the game. Maybe you synch up every now and then, maybe your actions have an effect on others that’s light…Important to this challenge is that you not violate the solitaire aspect of this contest, despite the interlocking elements." Although the player plays this game alone, the results of the game touch other people in a material way. Avery Alder’s “Brave Sparrow” is such a game. Chan’s game would fit Bohl’s second challenge category, "ARG! RPGs!" even better. In this category, participants "[d]esign a game which produces a product of play in the voice of the character…This could be blog posts, Facebook entries…whatever. Ideally, the products of play will tell a story anyone can appreciate." Youtube videos about fictional aliens certainly qualify as an in-character product of play. Once again, these are solo rpgs, but they are collaborative storytelling, because they engage other people with in-fiction artifacts the player has created.