As you are exposed to the board game and tabletop hobby, there’s a chance at some point you’ll visit a local game club. If its anything like my local wonderful gathering, you get an eclectic mixture of games and those who partake in them. The neoprened table of the wargamers, with their metal cases and foam cuddled miniatures raring to do battle across the stars or across a muddy field. The board gamers in a constant state of either trying to decide what to play, or trying to learn the latest shiny and new, while others argue that maybe next time they could have this conversation before game night. Those that play RPGs are away from the main hall, upstairs in their own room for the sake of everyone’s internal monologue.
It’s not because we don’t like them. They don’t smell any more or less precious than the rest of us. It is just that everything is turned up to eleven. There’s a tendency for loudness and over expression. Look at it this way, someone missed that day at school when we we all taught the charm and wonder of our inside voices. Every treasure is like Christmas Day, every encounter is like the battle at Helm’s Deep. Goodness knows we’ve all tried to play in the same room. We’ve tried to tell them to keep it down, we’ve tried polite bad language. They disappeared over lockdown and were playing online, but I’m guessing at some point you have no choice but to leave the house, get outside, get some fresh air where noise can properly travel.
At the end of the day though, it is us that is ruining their fun, stopping them from playing as how they want to. Funnily enough in the same group, there are also the quiet ones. they never put on a character voice, but they clearly smile and enjoy every second of the adventure. When the session is over, they disappear off into the night and only to come back next week. I’ve never had the courage to ask if they own noise cancelling ear buds. I wonder what would happen if the noise was removed somehow and the quiet ones were given the level playing field.
In Alice Is Missing you are given no choice in how you express yourself. A roleplaying game that acts like a one shot. A slice of life amongst a group of friends who are concerned over the apparent unexpected disappearance of their friend Alice. Just like this modern age where a phone call is considered some wild and out there, all communication is carried out over text messages. You can all sit around a table as normal but it encourages that biggest of taboos, the requirement for devices to be in faces and used for the entirety of the ninety minute session. You’ll have character sheets and reference cards, but all of your conversation, all of your explanations and investigations are carried out with rapidly moving thumbs.
There are cards to turn over, and rules to abide by, but it also brings in messaging etiquette. It’s difficult to command a table and lord over that same table when your font is the same size as everyone else. It becomes impossible to interrupt. Players get to finish their thoughts without being derailed by something less important. All you hear instead is the beep of notifications and the occasional turning over of a card. Alice is Missing comes with a sound track, something to play in the background just to break the potential uncomfortable silences. Imagine that, a roleplaying game that needs something to create atmosphere, instead of needing someone to keep everyone on track and on the correct path.
Expression comes through the written word and brings with it a lack of tone. Your words are analysed for what they say and what they possibly mean. Punctuation becomes important, refusal to answer direct questions leads to suspicion. You become a character through characters. In the background the clocks slowly down, forcing fingers to type faster to a finger sweating conclusion as the tension builds and the soundtrack pours over you.
With no need for wild gesticulation or even a plastic figure representing who you are and potentially could be. When you shout, you shout internally, when you are screaming, it is followed by a string of !!! and emojis. Alice is Missing is a game for those who sit in quiet contemplation but want to be heard, for those who want the role play without the Role Play. If you think you’re missing something, maybe it’s Alice?
You can find out more about the game by going to https://renegadegamestudios.com/alice-is-missing-pre-order/
You can find out more about the most recent expansion to Alice is Missing on https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/huntersbooks/alice-is-missing-silent-falls
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