IF SO writer Luke Roberts set up a role-playing game in which people enter a contemporary version of George Orwell’s 1984. In the game you play one of the characters in Orwell’s prophetic novel. You are either a member of the Thought Police working with Big Brother Plc to maintain absolute financial, social and political power. Or you are a dissident trying to undermine that power, or just survive without being denounced by the Thought Police. Your objectives do not necessarily follow the persuasions of the characters in the novel, so the game could be played by anyone. Knowledge of the text will not make anyone a better player.
All players received a brief from Big Brother Plc officials declaring the good news that we are going to war and that to support the war effort, Britain’s forests must be cut down. Players must then engage in writing propaganda for newspapers about how bad forests are, how good the war is, and what genius Big Brother Plc shows in having them all cut down. Players wrote some extremely imaginative material, even using the first word of each line to spell out a highly subversive message.
Each player also had a number of personal missions to complete. Smith was tasked with writing a catch-all campaign slogan for Big Brother Plc. Julia had to pass a note reading ‘I love you’ to someone she thought would not denounce her to the authorities. Many of the personal missions are in conflict with the aims of other players.
This workshop was a pilot to test the feasibility of the game. Following strong feedback, IF SO Press will now be looking to develop the game into a format where it can be played by more people. Watch this space…
More about workshops
IF SO WRITERS run events and collaborative writing workshops and weekends involving movement, google docs and food