Game Details: Boomtown
My name: Collin Anderson
Greg’s name: Russell Cooper
Michael’s name: Edward Anderson
My relationship with Russell: both gamblers
My relationship with Edward: son of Edward
Edward and Russell’s relationship: former lovers
Need: to get rich through robbing a business
Object: railroad handcar
Location: across the tracks – boot hill
Russell: Tragedy – pain followed by confusion
Collin: Guilt – greed leads to killing
Edward: Innocence: a neighbor wanders into the situation
The first time playing Fiasco was difficult; before starting, I didn’t realize that the vast majority of the roleplaying was created entirely from the players. I thought there would be much more structure, but I found out the beginning framework that we completed in class was essentially everything we were given to work with. I played with Michael and Greg on Tuesday after class, and after setting up the relationships, needs, objects, etc., we initially found it very difficult to create a scene from scratch. Instead, we first came up with a main overarching plot that our story could follow, giving us a sense of direction and something to work towards. Given our starting setup, we came up with a plot that follows: Collin (me) and Russell (Greg) are a pair of unsuccessful gamblers in the late 19th century who lost a few bets too many, and now a gang of loan sharks are after them. They come up with a plan to repay the loan sharks by stealing gold from a train, recruiting the help of Collin’s dad, Edward (Michael). They wait at Boot Hill outside town and strike once they see the train. The robbery is successful at first, but things get complicated from there.
Given a plot to follow, creating scenes came much more easily. For the most part, we decided to create our own scenes to give us more control of our own characters. In my scenes in particular, I tried to develop the emotional strengths and weaknesses of my character: in my first scene, I described my ethical dilemma towards my gambling addiction, and how it was fueling my worst behavior and causing me stress. I also described the anxiety of being indebted to bloodthirsty loan sharks, and how that was driving the conflict for my character. Everytime we drew a white or black die at the end of each scene, we would describe a good or bad thing that happened at the end of the scene, such as Russell getting beat up by loan sharks and given a week ultimatum to repay his debts. For much of Act 1, we spent our scenes developing the reasons and desperation that led us to plan such a large-scale robbery. When Greg and Michael ran out of ideas for their scenes, I would offer alternative solutions for ways to advance the plot in a way that made sense. For example, in order to get Edward into the robbery, I decided to frame it as a way for Edward to reconcile with his former lover, Russell, and to show him he still cared. The robbery was a success, and as we made our getaway on the railroad handcar, the tilt began.
Given our tilt rolls, we knew at least one of us was bound to die. I could feel the pace of the storytelling accelerating as the climax unfolded: we started speaking quicker and bouncing ideas off each other with much more fluidity. It ended with the betrayal and the death of Collin, and Edward also died in a shootout with the police.
Writing about Fiasco stressed my critical thinking and reading resulting in writing by making me summarize and analyze our long, 2.5 hour session in less than 700 words. As we were acting out the scenes, we wrote down the details of each scene into a google doc, although I found out as I wrote my reflection that it was impossible to write all the details I wanted while also including my thoughts and reflecting on the game. This reflection was also writing as a process which made me revise and rethink the way I wanted to convey my thoughts succinctly. Collaborating with my peers was also a fun exercise, and we got to know each other better as we created a story together. Overall, the experience was positive for me and I got to create my own story in more detail than I’ve ever done before. The reflection also helped me format my writing in interesting ways that I would have never been allowed to do in high school. Fiasco effectively fostered creativity and a collaborative environment, making a fun and constructive game for all to play.