Cruel 2 B Kind

September 5, 2006

Innovative and fun-loving ubicomp/this-is-not-a-gaming guru Jane McGonigal’s latest project, Cruel 2 B Kind, “the game of benevolent assassination,” was playtested earlier this week in the Bay Area’s Mission Dolores Park, and from the sounds of it, a good time was had by all:

Overall, it was a great day. Ian and I learned lots, and it was a delight to see the creative strategies invented and deployed by the testers. And the feedback at the assassins’ picnic afterwards was tremendous.

My favorite story was related by the winning team, who staged a successful final attack that began by recruiting a trio of parkgoers to distract their targets… and ended with the whole team “charging up a hill like Teddy Roosevelt at San Juan”… while blowing kisses. Fantastic! (avantgame.blogspot.com)

A little more about the game (from the rules at cruelgame.com):

Cruel 2 B Kind is a game of benevolent assassination.

At the beginning of the game, you and a partner-in-crime are assigned a secret weapon. To onlookers, it will seem like a random act of kindness. But to a select group of other players, the seemingly benevolent gesture is a deadly maneuver that will bring them to their knees.

Some players will be slain by a serenade. Others will be killed by a compliment. You and your partner might be taken down by an innocent group cheer.

You will be given no information about your targets. No name, no photo, nothing but the guarantee that they will remain within the outdoor game boundaries during the designated playing time. Anyone you encounter could be your target. The only way to find out is to attack them with your secret weapon.

Watch out: The hunter is also the hunted. At the beginning of the game, you and your partner will also be assigned your own secret weakness. Other pairs of players have been given your secret weakness as their secret weapon, and they’re coming to get you. Anything out of the ordinary you do to assassinate YOUR targets may reveal your own secret identity to the other players who want you dead.

As targets are successfully assassinated, the dead players join forces with their killers to continue stalking the surviving players. The teams grow bigger and bigger until two final mobs of benevolent assassins descend upon each other for a spectacular, climactic kill.

Will innocents be caught in the cross-fire? Oh, yes. But when your secret weapon is a random act of kindness, it’s only cruel to be kind to other players… (Cruel 2 B Kind)

More playtests are coming up and the designers are looking for benevolent assassins to play a game on September 23rd in NYC. You can register here.

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