The Game of a Lifetime

I was reading this MIT paper on construction and reconstruction of the self in virtual reality and I kind of realized that, in a way, that’s a lot of what writing is for a lot of us — a chance to reinvent ourselves endlessly and sometimes repetitively in the wider boundaries of another realm. On paper, we give ourselves a chance to encounter the decisions we could not make in our present realities, we force ourselves to confront the villain, the bully, the snob, the jock, the fathers, our alters, and replay scenarios where we end up better off, worse than, different. We race down the hallways of a Choose Your Own Adventure book, make tracks through our heads, and rattle every doorknob to see how things will end.

I’ve always had the idea that it would be an even better game to make up clue cards listing made-up towns, include a sketched map of the city centers of these towns, including public schools, private schools, churches, malls and hospitals, add a couple of random families listed by street, and then put them all in a box, and have a group of YA writers blindly choose a town, then from another box a topic (for instance race, gender, family structure, marriage, etc. – really broad topics), and then roll a die to a gender identity – GLBT – or a race – or a sex. Then, each writer would have a weekend to come up with a short story based on the town selected. In the end, the best stories could be polished up and pulled together to form some kind of linked cycle.

That would be so way cooler than role playing. I’ll reconstruct my identity on paper anyday.

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