One Shot: Nikola Banas
Game: Les Petites Choses Oubliees
Theme Song: All The Things Lost by MS MR
Keywords: Hard Working, Resilient, Sincere
Continuing the field trip through sad RPG land, Rach and I also played a game about a young couple who fell in love, broke up, and then got their memories of each other removed, a la The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. This young couple we knew were two women, who had an economic difference, and had met at St Lawrence Market in Toronto as my character worked at her family's butcher stand despite going to school for business.
Nikki was a first generation Polish Canadian who came to Canada when she was seven. Her father came first, and she followed, and went to school for business in Toronto because her parents expected her to do big things. She had several siblings but was the eldest, by a number of years, and she called her grandmother in Poland every week. I wanted to make a character who was entrenched in family history but also was trying to be the modern Canadian woman.
I knew that Nikki was dedicated to her job in a way that was unhealthy and was afraid of failing. She was constantly afraid of taking any steps back instead of moving forward. But then she met Theresa. Theresa was funny, she was light hearted, and she was spontaneous. She was all the things that Nikki didn't have in her life and it was exciting and fascinating and worth taking a risk for.
We played through the good and the bad times of Nikki and Theresa. It became clear that Nikki's workaholic temperament and her traditional family was a severe strain on the couple. But Theresa's inability to deal with the fact that Nikki was making money while she wasn't was also a huge component of why they didn't work well together. Nikki's family disowned her after she and Theresa moved in together, and then Theresa broke it off when she couldn't deal with the cottage weekends and business dinners and business drinks that Nikki had to go to.
When I was designing Nikki, I wanted to play someone who had traditional family that would be interfering and problematic in any relationship, regardless of who she would be with. That Nikki was a lesbian who came out to her family and then became isolated was an intense part of the story that I honestly felt heart broken over. I know parts of my family wouldn't accept my sexuality, and it would break my heart to be told I wasn't part of them because of who I am.
It broke Nikki's heart. But she was resilient and she just put all her stock into Theresa and continued to forge ahead. I feel like I played a lot into the modern millennial who is trying so hard to get ahead and needs to sacrifice a lot of personal time in order to do so. There were a lot of interesting elements to play in a younger couple who were going through tumultuous times, to the point where they decided to erase the memories of each other.
In the end, Nikki chose to erase most of the memories, but kept enough to know that she had dated Theresa. She didn't want to meet her again, date her again, only to have her friends mention they had been together before. She wanted a clean break. Enough that she would look back on the relationship and never want to know more.
Nikki was a complex and fascinating woman that I enjoyed playing. I would play her again in a modern game and explore more of what it means to be isolated and still seeking happiness and wishing for connection but unable to find the time to make connection. There's a very human story in the way we live our lives and how those lives aren't compatible with relationships and connection for many young people. The current expectations we have on young couples is intense, and while we as mature adults struggle, I can't imagine facing the insurmountable challenge of being 20 in today's world.