At Foo Camp last month, I finally had an opportunity to play the game werewolf--something I've heard a lot about, but hadn't participated in. It's not a technology-intensive activity, by any means. No computers, just a deck of cards. For details on the game (and its sibling game, Mafia), see the link above. For those of you too lazy to click through, here are the basics:
A group of people gather around a table. We had around 20 people starting each round, but you could have fewer. The game master (in our case it was danah boyd) hands out cards to each player--on the card is the role you'll play for that game. The roles in our games were villager, werewolf, healer, and seer. For some of our games we had four werewolves, for others there were three. There's always one seer and one healer. Nobody knows what anyone else's role is when the game begins. The game master tells everyone to "go to sleep," which means you close your eyes and make some kind of noise--humming, etc--so that you can't hear what's going on. The GM tells the werewolves to open to their eyes, and to acknowledge each other with eye contact; then the GM tells the werewolves to silently agree on someone in the village that they want to kill off. The werewolves then are told to close their eyes, and the healer is told to open his or her eyes, and to indicate silently to the GM who s/he would like to heal for that round. Then the healer closes his or her eyes, and the seer is allowed to wake up. The seer can point to one person in the circle and have the GM tell them if that person is or isn't a werewolf. After that, the GM announces it's morning, and that everyone can wake up. If the person the werewolves picked to kill was not healed by the healer, the GM tells the deceased of their fate, and they have to leave the circle. Then comes the fun part. The remaining players try to determine as a group which players are werewolves. The players can vote to lynch someone if they believe they're a werewolf, or can choose to do nothing. Then the cycle repeats. The game ends at the point where either all the werewolves are dead (villagers win!) or there are more werewolves than villagers (werewolves win!).
One variant of the game allows deceased players to inform the group of their role, so that the village knows if a werewolf (or healer, or seer) has been killed. We didn't play with that rule, so we never knew for sure who'd just been killed off.
So, what's the point? You learn a lot about people from the subtle clues they give off. This is all about deception and perception, about how to read the "tells" from the people around you. The better you know people, I've heard, the easier it is to tell if they're lying.
It is incredibly addictive. And it's fun not just to play, but also to watch the game. Once you've been killed off, you get to see what everyone's real roles are, and to see who's most effective in convincing the others of their innocence (whether or not they really are innocent).
Tom Coates, danah boyd, and Jane McGonigal all have excellent accounts of the gameplay at Foo, and observations on the game itself, on their blogs. (Jane also talks about the fabulous "reverse scavenger hunt" that she ran at Foo, which was a great exercise in creative thinking and improvisational acting!)
So, this got me to thinking...are there werewolf players at RIT? If not, there totally should be. I'm thinking of proposing a monthly RIT werewolf game...time and place to be determined. Who wants to play?