XP: Under the Bed

8 May


Under the Bed is a light weight story game about the trials of childhood. Those of you that know me know that this subject is right up my alley. Our enthusiasm was really strong, which is good, because that was the primary thing that carried us through. Though our play was overall positive, there were a few things that we noticed that kept our game from being Great instead of just Good.


The text is not quite clear in some parts, and there were a few typos that require you to abandon some sentences all together. The order in which the text presents the information leaves the reader feeling lost at points, but the text is so short that this is quickly overcome. However, the biggest shortcoming of the text is that it doesn’t convey what play looks like very well.


For our play, this came down to two issues.


First, the conversation of the game takes place between only two people at a time. This can be a little frustrating, since other plays may be sitting around for a while before they get a chance to speak. The Favoritism mechanic, while interesting and effective for its purpose in Conflicts, exasperates the conversation issue, and makes it even more unbalanced. The only immediate alternative is for each player to say only a sentence or two each time and keep it snappy. However, this strains the story as the Child is confronted with a constant stream of Conflicts.


Second, our group felt like there was not enough guidance for how the Child acts through the collective will of the group. Are Conflicts all symbolic, and taking place in their imagination? Or, does the Child actually use the toys in his real life to face his Conflicts? I suspect the answer is somewhere in between, flowing between the real world and imagination (or an imaginary edit of the real world), but we never struck a comfortable rhythm for this.


The best part of the game was definitely the creative toys – Obsolete Microwave and Single Plastic French Fry both stuck out to me – but it was too bad new toys had only a 50% survival rate.


Unfortunately, most of this report is fairly tepid. I really like the premise and the weight of the game, but the pace and content of the conversation was a little unwieldy. Were I to play this again, I would play with perhaps four players, and I would have to makes some tweaks (though I’m not sure what I’d do at this point). We had fun, but it came mostly from the personality of the players and their toys rather than from the engineering of the game itself.

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