Genre: live-action adventure
Number of players: any number of players (recommended against exactly 13 players)
Objective: to complete a random activity with a group

It might be a decent starting point to explain what Morton’s List (or the List) isn’t and then explain what it is.  What Morton’s List isn’t, is a role-playing game or a live-action role-playing game.  Most gamers are not used to a game that actually has you the player do something in the real world beyond the game itself; in a weird way, Morton’s List is more analogous to a sport than most other games.  What Morton’s List is, is a game that opens up the world to the players as a place of endless adventure and possibilities.  The players run around having fun and adventure in the real world, as opposed to playing on a foldable cardboard surface or scribbling notes on paper chronicling the life and times of a fictional entity.

Morton’s List has a storied history of coincidence and bad press; which is not my intent here in my retelling of said history.  The company’s founding was back in 2001 on September 11th; so their 1-year and subsequent anniversaries were quite mixed and unfortunate due to the infamy of the day.  Anyways, the creators took their game out to the convention-scene and tried to market Morton’s List to the wider public.  After initially registering a few events at GenCon, the event coordinators decided to cancel the events on the creators and subsequently banned the game from the con!  Why? A few reasons were given in a letter that boil down to a misunderstanding of the precepts and expectations of the game.  To be perfectly blunt and honest, the letter is hilarious given the fact that the company in charge of GenCon, Wizards of the Coast, produces games like Magic the Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons, even back then.  Without getting into specifics of the letter, basically, the game was accused of “encouraging witchcraft and real-life spellcasting” and was not considered “family friendly;”  ironic since D&D has its own misunderstood history and Magic is almost blatant in its use of the occult and magic.  However, as I alluded to earlier, I am not speaking maliciously of Wizards or of Morton’s List; I just find the situation at the time frakking hilarious!

The intent of the game was to alleviate the endless boredom of indecision.  Imagine if you will the following situation:

Friend A: I’m bored!
Friend B: So am I! Well, what do you want to do?
Friend A: I don’t know.  What do you want to do?
Friend B: I don’t know . . .

Add in as many friends to that typcial conversation and you have the premise behind the List: to end boredom.  How is this accomplished?  First the group promises (the book says swears, just so you know) to put forth an honest hours effort to completing the task that the group generates from Morton’s List.  After that, a table master (basically a leader position) is randomly determined and then that person makes a series of D30 rolls to generate a quest result.  The group discusses how they will complete said quest and then they go about completing the quest.  Because of the variability within any given group, the randomness of dice results, and any number of real-world factors, the game has an infinite play-back potential; no two games of Morton’s List can be exactly alike.  So, in itself, you are probably never going to get bored playing the game.

What does Morton’s List teach us?  How to let go and just go with the flow of events as they unfold.  Also, unlike other games, this game puts you directly into the real-world and so you put your skills to practical use (technically speaking).  The book itself is filled with useful information and interesting facts.  In some entries, namely the incredibly hard to reach quests that will take longer than 1 hour to complete, there is a copious amount of information concerning cultural history and mythology.  Also, the game encourages the players to be active and not merely passively sitting around waiting for something to happen; the players shape the outcome of their game.  What players bring to the game is what they take out of it, and often more.  The game also enforces respect towards the views of others through the rules of abiding by one’s moral codes; basically, no one can force you to do something that you don’t want to do and likewise you can’t force anybody to do something that they find taboo.  To be honest, I can probably keep going with an ever increasing list of what players learn through the game, but I am getting kinda tired and I will just leave it up for discussion.

And just to make it clear, nothing I say is beyond reproach or to be taken as some form of gospil truth and indisputable.  if anything, I prefer it to be disputable because without discourse, we really can’t learn anything beyond what is already said.  So, as always, feel free to comment on this or any other post I make/made.

Next time: I am not really sure.  I will come up with something soon . . . hopefully.

Advertisements