One Shot: Allison Greening
Game: As We Know It
Theme Song: Atlantis by Seafret
Keywords: Anxious, Protective, Irritable
Andrew Medeiros and the ever awesome Angela Delong Andersson ran a larp game called As We Know It. I've never played a larp since the days of CyberGen larps at Dreamation that Jonathan Lavallee ran. I helped facilitate the few times I was there. It was never something I found much interest in. I mean, I enjoyed Dystopia Rising when I played for a few hours, also at Dreamation, but overall I didn't have the time, energy, or money for something as invested as a larp.
And then there were whispers in the gaming community (okay, not whispers, more like shouts) about this Nordic Style Larp business. It was explained to me as "people sitting around being sad together in a room." Naturally, with my romance of sadness, I was intrigued. I had backed a few intense sounding small scale larps including the Forgotten by Andrew Medeiros, mostly to show support rather than interest. Then Angela posted on Facebook she was running a larp you could play remotely.
It was a game about aliens invading. You hid in a small space, afraid of getting caught, while you kept in communication via your phone. Now, I have a phobia of aliens, a serious one. One that has given me anxiety attacks before. So of course I jumped at the opportunity to explore that in a safe, neutral environment and on my own, so I could tap out if I needed to.
We started by just coming up with a name and a picture. I made Allison, a woman whom I determined lived in Detroit. I knew she lived somewhere that was already falling apart before the aliens came. And I knew she was some kind of writer. I didn't know what kind, just that she spent a lot of time researching and writing. I think that's what kept her alive longer than most.
To be fair, there were other survivors. A network popped up about fighting back against the aliens, with the constant message to stay put. Things were obviously strange and Ally didn't really believe the network. Maybe she was too much of a skeptic or maybe she was just skeptical enough to stay alive. Either way, she came alive as I played her through text to others playing the game.
I have a lot of animals. So it was easy to hear sounds and strange things happening outside of the closet I was huddled inside. My aliens made scratching, digging noises, and bumped into things as they moved around. Floorboards creaked and my neighbours made noise, making it seem like there were things in the world around me. I had my cat with me, because he was banging on the closet door if I didn't let him in. To mitigate banging in case I knocked on the doors myself, I shoved an old shirt between the two mirrored doors so they wouldn't move around and make noise. That's right. I was that into the game.
In my closet I had two water bottles, one that was half empty, a mostly empty bottle of coke, and my laptop, which I was using to power my phone (which had been almost dead) but this meant there was a cord leading to my closet door. One time the cord got knocked and I go so afraid I started to cry. I turned my phone off then so that no light would show and my friends online became worried about me.
Allison talked to Colin first, and became somewhat attached to him. Her anxiety showed in the way she freaked out when he didn't reply steadily, and when she finally spoke to others, she was one of the first to call out someone in the chat as one of Them. She was firm to tell people not to disclose, and when people freaked out, she made an effort to calm them down. Why? This question keeps looming in my head.
When people went silent, like Sarah, or many were disconnected, Allison had a freak out. She wanted people to be okay. It was definitely playing a character who was more worried about everyone else than her self. It also came up in play that humans who turned themselves over could be sterilized and live peacefully in captivity. I learned then that Allison had already been sterilized (voluntarily) as she didn't want anything to do with children in her own future.
We got disconnected towards the end. My final texts were "Emily!? Don't listen to Mark! Emily!!! Don't believe him! Mark! Die in a fire you fucker!" but they didn't go through. I started to genuinely get upset and panic when I felt like I had been cut off from people. By that time, Colin was ready to give in and die and Allison wasn't handling the stress of everyone leaving her. At all.
I had no particular challenge in mind when I was going in with Allison. I knew I was playing someone fairly tech savvy, research happy, and with a tendency towards panic and anxiety. That's about it. And I knew she had seen shitty things before. Overall, I found it a fascinating, upsetting, emotional experience that made me definitely want to try more larps. I really dug it. And I dug Allison.
Whom I'm certain is dead. Because she probably went looking for Emily and Jacqueline. Road trip with aliens? That always ends well...