Live Action Plus Board Games Equals: Megagames

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Close your eyes and imagine dozens or even hundreds of people assembling and organizing a massive roleplaying/tabletop board game of epic proportions. Open your eyes. It’s real.

Megagames are what happen when you blend large-scale live action roleplaying with the mechanical tactics of board games and maybe a little Model UN to boot. They can be tense, dynamic, and epic in scale. It’s almost impossible to get the whole picture of what’s going on, but you still get to play a major role in determining the outcome. It’s cooperative at times, with players working on teams; but still adversarial, with different groups completely at odds. As with any good political LARP, there are secrets, betrayal, lies, and overt threats. It’s the best of all worlds, if done right.

Like an example? Here’s the crew of Shut Up & Sit Down over at a 60 person megagame called Watch the Skies. There, players take positions within the leadership of a number of major nations, all attempting to work out the diplomatic, military, espionage, and technological implications of an ongoing encounter with aliens.

The motivation of the aliens is initially unknown and serves to spawn crucial questions put to players: What do we do when confronted with a powerful outside force we hardly understand? What will we do to each other to get our hands on their technology? Who can we trust in this unfamiliar landscape? Is this how humanity should behave in front of the galactic community? These powerful human questions are posed through the complex interactions of the game to form a live-action art piece of sorts. This is powerful, fun, and lively interactive story telling with a point. It’s beautiful to watch, and as you’d imagine, quite fun to play.

You can find a massive, two part video of the SU&SD folks at a 300 person megagame  here, along with several podcasts in which they talk about these incredibly memorable experiences. These particular games were put on by a UK group called Megagame Makers, but it seems these games have spread across the pond as well.   Here’s an account of players in the Los Angeles area running the game just a few weeks ago.

Watch the Skies is generally about alien invasion scenarios, but that’s not all that megagames have to offer. The UK group does all kinds of historical setting games, and the US-based Megagame Society does those, as well as modern scenarios such as  Brokered Convention, a political game set in a fictional 2024 political landscape, which will be played in Cleveland just before the Republican Convention this year. Megagame Society is also working on a space-based sequel to Watch the Skies, a Lovecraftian horror game, a Jane Austin-related game, and one set in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. All kinds of interesting settings to enjoy.

So check out these groups and find out if anyone is setting up games near you. If not, might be time to throw one together yourself.

Featured Image Credit: Shut Up & Sit Down

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