Game: Mars 244
Theme song: One Last Time by Jaymes Young
Keywords: Tender, astute, loving
There was a mine. Prisoners were sent to the mine to work. At first, this was acceptable. The colony on Mars didn't want to deal with prisoners. But then any crime seemed punishable by ostracism to the mine, even that of a child who simply knocked over some equipment. Any guardian of that child couldn't abandon them, could they? So of course they pick up their life and move to the prison, get a job there, and carry on. Always carry on. Follow the water. Learn to flow.
I played Mars 244 despite being dead in the water mostly because I wanted check out a game by Rachel E S Walton and this was, by far, the best game I played at the convention. I played two characters, but I'm going to focus on my primary character, Emir. Emir was a care giver and sex worker who lived and worked at the prison where his adopted nephew was serving time. The prison being the mine. It was a horrible place but Emir didn't hate it.
When I picked up Emir to play, I focused in on the two things it said he did. Care giving and sex worker. I didn't want those to be separate things. I wanted to combine them into some sort of universal life care giver, a nurse who also did psychotherapy and sexual therapy for those who needed a physical connection. I imagined a society who was finally sex positive and believed that physical health was also dependent upon sexual release. That being said, there was a time and a place for it and was by no means the focus of his care.
Emir was based off of my training as a life doula and the reading I had been doing around death doula work, which mostly focuses a lot on integrity and honesty in times of transition. This was a game about transition, so Emir was a sensitive, caring soul who was calm, collected, and earnest when things were happening. He clearly had lines about clients and those who weren't clients, and while caring of everyone, was more honest with those he considered friends or lovers than those he saw as his clients.
That being said, Emir was smart. He spent most of his time making people forge emotional bonds so that those who had the lives of everyone in their hands had emotional prerogatives to not abandon them. He would bring a baby to the owners of the ship, he would spend time with the leaders' sons, and he would bond with the most wild card of the prisoners. It was careful moderation of a situation that could have been very volatile.
I'm not sure if it was because I played Emir as instantly intimate with people, or because he was an easy emotional space for others, but it felt like people enjoyed playing with him. Emir saw himself as someone who held space in moments of movement, he saw people change and helped them realize they had changed. He was very close to my heart because so much of the space he was holding was what I do in real life.
My goal with Emir was to be instantly familiar and to also be romantic. He was a sex worker, he knew how to appeal to people, and since I'd been sucking at being romantic lately, I decided to go in. I was fortunate that Sara Williamson was playing opposite me, but it was definitely hot guys making out and falling in love between the two. Initially Emir became familiar with him because he also needed someone to take refuge in, but found a familiarity and loveliness in Phobos that he didn't pull away when they became more familiar with each other.
In the end, Emir knew he could survive the prison with minimal difficulty and trusted Phobos to look after his nephew. He was the storyteller. He told their story to the world and appeared to abandon those he had served. I felt it was his role as witness to tell that story and I knew he wouldn't take the place of someone else on the escape pod.
I feel like I played him as intimate, romantic, and familiar to people even if he didn't know them. It was a successful character to me, and I was delighted to play him. I really want to play someone similar in a long-term game later. Although it's difficult because they aren't characters with lots of conflict so much as they are characters who help other people through their conflicts. But I think I could pull it off in another game.
Emir was my favourite character I played at this convention, and probably my favourite character this year. The game is amazing. It holds a perfect space and offers interesting social issues to explore and talk about. I can't wait to own this one day.