One Shot: Sam

Character: Sam
Game: 183 Days
Episodes: 1
Theme Song: Afraid of the Dark by Phildel
Keywords: Afraid, Resigned, Enamoured

Wanna be depressed? Play 183 Days. There are two characters, Sam and Dylan. I decided I would play Sam. There are three cards that fully define Sam. Sam was born a psychic. She could see the future. She could see her parents die in a plane crash when she was nine. She did everything to stop them from going. They still went. And they died.

Sam knows she's going to meet Dylan. They're going to fall in love and they're going to break up. But those will be the happiest days of her life. So it's worth it. Because it's been a long time since she's felt loved.

In the game, both Sam and Dylan are whatever gender you want them to be. I chose to be a Sam who wasn't really sure about her gender, but was kind of cis-by-default because she hadn't really explored the spectrum of gender. She lived a lot inside her head, except with her friend who knew she had powers. That was her only real connection to the outside world. Everything else was just living partly now and partly in the future.

Sam was a really upsetting character to play. I went in without any ideas ahead of time or any challenges set out for myself. I really wanted to remain present and thoughtful with her though, as a character. I knew Sam was certain of the world, of her love for Dylan, and of the happiness they would have together. She questioned nothing, as she had seen it all before. And it had never ended happily, but she knew that too.

It was odd playing a character who lived in such certainty. Most of our lives, at least with me, I question a lot of things. I wonder how people feel and I wonder at my own thoughts and impressions and I worry about the future. Sam didn't. It was a favourite movie she had seen a hundred times and she moved through the movie, knowing the script and the right lines and the moments and what she was supposed to be doing. She knew which job to apply for because she knew which one she would get. The strange confidence in it was fascinating.

The real struggle I came against was playing Sam against Dylan. See, Dylan sees many possible futures. Whereas Sam saw only one. And Dylan spent a good deal of his time trying to convince Sam that she was wrong. Wrong about the future, wrong about how time and visions worked, wrong about everything. It was a lot of gaslighting in a way that I really struggled with and reminded me of my own abusive relationships in the past.

I loved it. And Sam was hard to play. She was so broken from her parents' death that the rest of the world had become something she wouldn't challenge. She had felt, first hand, what it meant to be right in her visions. As a result, she just embraced the truth of it and never looked back. Except for when Dylan touched her and she began to see things his way. It was a really devastating moment and I'm still grappling with a game that so firmly puts the choice in one player's hand and extremely gaslights the other.

Sam was beautifully tragic and intensely difficult to play. I wouldn't play her again and I'm okay with that. It was a wonderful experience with a lot of intense bleed. I'm going to buy the game although I'm not sure I'll ever replay it.

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