Archive for July 28th, 2008

Push the Red Button

2008 Jul 28

In the actual text, this is going to be much more elegant, but here’s the basic points I want to make.

All competition in Geiger Counter is fake. This includes both the competition between the menace and the characters (both of which are played by the players), and the competition between characters to acquire resources, achieve goals, avoid conditions, and survive. These competitions are like the ‘competition’ of a coin-toss or the card game War, an illusion that can create suspense and interest but, if taken too far, becomes ridiculous (do you get bragging rights after winning a coin flip?) or just not very fun.

The only reason we roll dice, instead of just arbitrarily deciding which side loses a confrontation is because the audience doesn’t always know what will happen next, though the result is strongly predetermined or biased by the needs of pacing and other concerns (how many dice the menace has and what advantages the characters have acquired). Preserving the fun of being the audience of a survival horror movie is one of the main goals of Geiger Counter. It is not particularly interested, however, in replicating the experience of being the characters in a survival horror story. It would be hard to enjoy the game, I would expect, if you really felt terrified for your life, instead of amused at the horrific, dangerous situation your character found themselves in. Also, dying would totally suck.

Basically, Geiger Counter is at odds with both inter-player competition and really playing your character hard, sharing their goals and desires. If, while playing Geiger Counter, the characters come across a big red button that says “Don’t push, dangerous!” by all means, before the end of the game, make sure someone, preferably your own character, PUSHES THAT BUTTON! You don’t win if your character escapes unscathed, whether your motivation is winning or just siding strongly with your character; you lose and so does everyone else in the group, due to the lost opportunities for entertainment.