Thursday, November 13, 2014

Metatopia 2014 or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Call Myself A Designer. PART 2

Part 3: The Monsters Focus Groups

I was underly terrified about these. Mental illness is a very personal thing and it's not really socially acceptable to talk about. And here I am, a brand new designer, wanting to tackle it head on.

I really want this game to exist, for selfish reasons. One of the best lessons I learned in DBT is that being selfish is sometimes necessary. Burning bridges with people who aren't good for your mental health, needing to take breaks, knowing your personal limitations and not budging on them. These are all things that society frowns on.

So, going on the fact that the con was so open and engaging, and that everyone in attendance was totally amazing, I took a firm stance. I'm going to be selfish and make this work.

Friday evening comes and I had just got out of James Mendez Hodes' super fun AfroFuture. I tried to take a minute and switch gears to be *serious*. Then it came to me.

Hi, my name is Cheyenne Rae Grimes, and I have anxiety and depression. If you have similar issues and wish to disclose them, fantastic, no judgement. If you don't wish to disclose this information, fantastic, no judgement.

Best choice I could have made. It set the correct tone. It created a safe space. It let the participants know that they were now in a world where such things are openly discussed. And the next hour blew my mind in all the right ways.

I gave my basic ideas (which ended up being described as wanting to punch my irrational thought in their faces) and what ideas I did have. I then asked the participants to answer why they were here at this focus group. So many ideas were tossed around; making sure there was distance between you and your monster, Nordic LARP style breaks during and aftercare worked into play, figuring out what the monsters actually were. Then, the giant mind fuck was thrown out.

What if you were the monster?


So beautiful, such a great way to make it a personal struggle.

The next night, following a lovely IGDN dinner at the tasty indian restaurant attached to the hotel, I set back up for the second night. I started out the exact same way, this time with a bit more confidence. I threw out the ideas from the previous night and this group RAN with all the ideas.

Ideas of give and take of wins and losses based on playing both your character and it's monster. Does harm taken on one side actually mean a victory on the other side? Hell, a media guide and soundtrack even began to come out. And then people followed me to a table in the bar area to keep talking about it.

You know who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, it's said his heart grew 3 sizes that day? Pretty sure the only thing containing my heart was my rib cage. Thanks so much to every member for these focus groups, with every fiber of my being. I have so many ideas, so many things to play with, and I am fully committed to making this game a reality.

This may seem like a slightly brief writeup, but this was more of a personal perspective shift for me than just a write up. I also needed to take 4 days after returning home to write this out. This was one of the best emotional experiences I've had in quite awhile.

In my last post, I will wrap up the playtest and panels I did and who this con means for Glittercats in the future. Thanks for baring with me, which is just a really big deal.

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