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Heads of State: editing great leader Kim Jong Il

Started by redivider, June 07, 2006, 04:11:27 PM

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Judson, Joshua & I played New Edition, one of my 9 short games about tyrants. The dictator has died, and players are members of a committee of high-ranking regime officials and intellectuals charged with revising the leader's biography.

For the first time in our series of Heads of State play-tests, we focused on a real dictator (N. Korea's Kim Jong il) rather than one that we invented. We picked six pages from the younger Kim's official bio, pdf downloadable at . I was particularly happy that we included a page on his career in cinema, though the official bio forgot to mention the time Kim had his security forces kidnap his favorite south korean director and hold him for eight years (,4120,929182,00.html)

The style of the bio was distinct that it had an effect on play- it was difficult to transform its meaning since the entire book was an closely-knit edifice in ideologicial mythmaking and the text was already over the top and hard to beat for pomposity and hagiographic excess.

We then created our characters and each picked a secret ideologically- tinged goal that the characters brought to the edit (for example, my general was trying to show that any abuses perpetrated by Kim were necessary evils, Judson's character was implicating surviving members of the regime). We also each had a hidden personal goal for the edit- Josh fixated on the need for industrial development that his character could profit from, I was puffing up the role of the army battalion I had commanded, etc.

We each took 2 pages and spent points to make edits to the text, then passed around the pages until we had each had a chance to edit all pages.

Juson kept laughing whenever he had to read that "from his early years Comrade Kim Jong Il possessed .... extraordinary perspicacity with regard to things and phenomena." (which incidentally sounds like one of the phrenological traits from my recent game chef entry)

Josh and I traded edits as to whether the nation's mighty industrial productivity or stalwart fighting 75th battalian were more critical to the success of the revolution.

Both Judson and Josh spent some points to edit away grammatical weirdness in the underlying bio, which never would have occured to me as a way to spend points.

Once the editing we read the entire new version aloud and then revealed our motives.

To end the game we each wrote a brief review of the new edition and suggested new titles.

After playing, we thought that:
it would be better to start with a more neutral text like a wikipedia entry rather than with a section of a hagiography (this was already a variant rule)
distribute the editing ideologies randomly or otherwise enure that player had a range of goals.
2 pages each was too much- 1 page or less would be better
rather than giving player points to spend on different types of edits, give each player a set amount of different edits
less edits per round but more rounds of edits so players could better see how various players were changing the text