They do say that the family that plays together, stays together. So here’s a game for the whole family. Do it thoroughly enough, and your kids will never really stop playing!
The object of the game is to control the stories the family tells about itself. Gameplay is broken up into Narratives. Each Narrative has a Viewpoint Character (VC), whose opinions are to be treated as fact for the entire Narrative. Note that two VCs can share a Narrative if they agree on all significant points.
The same real-world event (e.g. a holiday dinner) can be the subject of different Narratives from different VCs. Advanced players (like families with grown children) can play with different VCs at the same time for extra realtime conflict, but beginners should probably start with one Narrative per event. That’s all most VCs will allow, anyway.
Before the game starts, the VC will assign everyone (including themselves) a Role. These Roles will define their personalities and constrain their actions in the Narrative. Note that neither the Roles nor the events of the Narrative have to map to objective reality. Very experienced VCs can create a seamless Narrative that not only bears no resemblance to actual events, but supplants them in everyone’s memory.
Characters, including Viewpoint Characters, are defined in terms of six traits: a Role, three Attributes, a Tape tagline (in the VC’s voice), and a Destiny. The three attributes are Consistency (people who are “always” or “never” something have high consistency),
Here are four characters for a family dinner, just to give you the feel of things:
Role: Mom the Martyr (VC)
Consistency: high (she’s reliable when everyone else lets her down)
Capability: high (she’s the only one who can do things right)
Charm: high (the VC always has high charm)
Tapes tagline: It’s a good thing I’m here or everything would be a disaster.
Destiny: Never to be appreciated for her hard work.
Role: Goofy Dad
Consistency: low (you never know whether he’ll get anything right)
Capability: low (totally impractical at every household task)
Charm: high (somehow he’s always talking his way out of things)
Tapes tagline: Oh, darling, what have you done this time?
Destiny: To bumble on forever
Role: The Loveable Screwup
Consistency: high (always getting into trouble!)
Capability: high (that’s what’s so frustrating!)
Charm: high (he can talk his way out of anything, just like his father)
Tapes tagline: You’re capable of so much more! I don’t know why you’re throwing your potential away.
Destiny: One day the consequences will catch up with him. (alternative: he’ll never amount to anything)
Role: The Smart One
Consistency: high (she always does so well at school!)
Capability: high (so bright)
Charm: low (it’s a shame she doesn’t have any friends)
Tapes tagline: She’s sure to succeed if she just puts her mind to it.
Destiny: To always succeed at everything and never get credit for it (alternative: to fail at something, and be blamed extra-hard for wasting her potential).
The object of the game is to prevent other people from becoming VCs, choosing their own Roles, or creating their own Narratives.
(Note that this is better done without outsiders. They never know their Roles, contradict the VC, question the Narrative, and generally mess things up.)
This is part of the sequence of Dysfunctional Families discussions. We have a few special rules, specific to the needs and nature of the conversations we have here.
Previous posts (note that comments are closed on them to keep the conversation in one place):