Cruel 2B Kind (Kyle Nguyen)

I ran a modified game of Cruel 2B Kind this past weekend. It taught me about how to take advantage of the “magic circle” to let people do (positive!) things they wouldn’t do otherwise.


1. In my game, the action pool is constricted.

I found the original C2BK actions¬† didn’t facilitate the spirit of true “random acts of kindness.” For example, one of the actions was “mistake your opponent for a celebrity.” While the silliness of these actions promoted a lusory attitude and create the “magic circle,” I felt the actions were too silly to achieve the outcome of promoting kindness, and that the lusory attitude was already sufficiently created by the competition aspect of the game. So I restricted the action pool to one action, also removing the RPS aspect. Players are challenged to give each other a genuine compliment.

2. Also, players know each others’ identities vaguely.

I couldn’t restrict players to a specific play area and the campus is too large to facilitate random run-ins between strangers. So I played the game within my circle of friends but didn’t tell players which other friends were in on the game. So, they were hopefully (and did end up!) complimenting all our mutual friends spontaneously, hoping one of them was in on the game.

What Worked

I was able to achieve a “lusory attitude” even with the restricted action pool. I also felt that the simpler action pool let more reluctant players “buy in” to the magic circle. I also received some heartwarming feedback that players genuinely enjoyed the compliments! I asked them to send me a picture to confirm the kills (with their “spoils” included). See the genuine smiles that came about.

They’re smiling, promise!

What Didn’t Work

One of the formal elements of games that I feel Cruel 2B Kind struggles with is “boundaries.” A game that lasts a whole weekend (temporal boundary) and takes place across a huge campus (spatial boundary) means that players spend a significant time outside of “game mode” and are just going about their daily lives. A few players forgot they were playing altogether. Perhaps a tighter boundary, i.e. if this were played in a single sitting, could be interesting to explore.

Altogether, it was a fun experience that gave me a little practice running a game and getting into a playful, vulnerable state with my friends. Many compliments were shared (harmfully and harmlessly) along the way.

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