Play — December 22, 2017 — language, organization, lucidity
This is a cooperative roleplaying game for three to six players, appropriate for ages two and up.
Play takes place in processes, on six layers, which you can visualize as the layers of an onion. The first and innermost layer is an individual player. Processes on this layer are called roles.
At any time, any player may ask any other player, “What are you doing?” The answer is the player’s role.It’s possible to play more than one role at once, just as it’s possible for the question to have more than one answer.
A player who can answer this question easily, precisely and accurately, having been conscious of playing a game and knowing what role the player is in, gains points. If the player answers with a gerund phrase,A gerund phrase, in English, begins with a verb that ends in “-ing”. For example, what am I doing? Writing a play. extra points.
This is an example of a process on the second layer. These processes are called exchanges. They are answers to the question, “What are we doing?”, between two players. The exchange just described is called clarifying roles.
The players in an exchange may change their roles many times. They gain points for noticing these changes consciously, and for being able to name the role they’re letting go of and the role they’re picking up during a change.Letting go of a role and picking up a role are also roles. You can imagine an actor on process taking off one costume and putting on another. What character is being played during this exchange? What role is the actor playing when answering another character who asks, “What role are you playing?”
In every exchange, there is a flow of gifts being offered, asked for, given, and received. Players gain points for noticing this flow, and its continuous changes of direction, as well as for improving it.How to improve the flow of gifts in an exchange is beyond the scope of this rulebook. See the Wheel of Consent.
Processes on the third layer are called teams. Just as exchanges consist of roles that are constantly changing, teams consist of exchanges that are constantly changing. A team is the answer to the question, “Who are we?”, asked by the three to six players of the game.
There may be no answer to the question. While roles and exchanges always exist, teams may or may not be present in the game. There is an exchange called organizing a team, which can bring teams into play where there were none.
The first step is to write a driver statement. This is a description of the present moment, including the reality and the potential. A driver statement can be formed out of the answers to three questions: “What are we looking at?”, “What is it doing?”, and “How do we want it to change?”
The answer to the first question, “What are we looking at?”, could be anything. It can be a player, a process or a planet. As long as it’s something that can be observed and named by all of the players, as an objective reality, it’s a legitimate answer.
The answer to the second question, “What is it doing?”, is a process. This process may be on any layer. Teams change both the processes within them and the processes they are within.
The answer to the third question, “How do we want it to change?”, may be as simple as the name of an unwelcome element. It isn’t necessary to know what it will look like after the change; it’s enough to know the area the team will work on and improve.Here’s one driver statement, as an example: “Cultures are collapsing into displaced people, abandoned places, wasted material and scattered knowledge. We want all these lost resources to gather into better ways of living and working together.”
The second step in organizing a team is to make commitments. Each player commits some resources available to them, the most important being time. These resources are then available to every player in the team, equally.
There are no more steps. If the players know what the situation is and how they want to change it, and they have resources committed to that change, they’re a team.The team continues as long as the players are committing resources for it. Note that committing resources is a role. These two steps may need to be repeated, every now and then, to keep the team working well.
There is only one process on the fourth layer, within this game. It’s called “working together”. It’s the answer to the question, “What are we doing?”, including everyone playing this game, everywhere, and not only the three to six players present.
The game acknowledges other processes on this layer, which might be called cooperatives, organizations, communities, cultures, cities, nations, corporations, regions, or any number of other names. None of those processes are part of the rules of this game, although the players are working together with the people and places who are in those processes.
The cooperative is another name for the game itself. It consists of patterns, and names for those patterns, forming a common language understood by everyone in the world who knows the game. This includes people who aren’t playing this game right now, and people who are playing variations of it.
The goal of the game is to gain points. Players gain points by doing things that tend to improve the game for everyone playing it, which tends to mean improving life in general, for everyone, no matter whether they’re playing or not.
No one is keeping track of the points.
All potential players of the game are included in the processes on the fifth layer, which could be called movements: collections of many different players of many different games, loosely associated by common interests.
The processes of the fourth layer rise and fall within the processes of the fifth layer, just as with the other layers. The fifth layer isn’t part of this game. It’s only mentioned here because keeping it in mind, and knowing that the game itself is temporary, is a good way of gaining points. The sixth layer is mentioned for the same reason.
It might be imagined that this succession of layers could continue indefinitely, but in this version of the game there are only six. We are in a process on the sixth and outermost layer; it’s the answer to the question, “What are we doing?”, where “we” is meant in the most inclusive possible sense, naming all that is.
What are we doing?