On Saturday 28th April 2018, a number of us had our first experience of ‘Megagaming’. “What is this?”, I hear you ask. It is a large role playing game with elements of board gaming. Wiki, that fountain of Internet knowledge says, “A megagame is a type of large-scale role playing game where participants are arranged into hierarchies of teams. Megagames have been played with 300 people.” Hmm, not exactly what we were looking or hoping for. This is my understanding of it, please correct me in the comments so we all might be educated in this respect.
From what I saw, a megagame involves players being split into teams that all have their own objectives, skills, abilities, resources, agendas, ideologies and race (if you are playing in a fantasy or sci-fi setting). They are then put into a world and/or scenario and told to play. Each team will try to pursue their own objectives and agendas within this setting and try to come out on top at the end of the day. As you would suspect, these often clash with another group or groups. Player are also sent briefings before the game so they are aware of their team’s traits.
Within each team players had different roles like an overall leader (monarch, CEO, president, general etc.) with the other players handling other aspects like trade, war, espionage, home affairs, propaganda etc. These players went off and started interacting. There are umpires or controllers that helped with rules and hand out resources at the end of the rounds as well as an overall games master/controller.
In this particular game, written, organised and conceived by the games master, Tim Campbell, there was a galactic empire with colonies and ministries. Each of these were trying to meet their secret objectives and come out on top. There were even those who professed to be outside the empire. How these people were perceived depended on whose side you were on. Did they really destroy a cargo ship bringing much needed food to a colony or was it staged by Empire to throw them into disrepute? Each team had an area that signified their base of operations. There were also tables where combat, trade, exploration and espionage are tracked. Each one of those had a controller who oversaw them.
Outside of all of this there was an independent news team – The Interstella News Network, that reported news throughout the day from and on everyone. This news appeared on a website that anyone could access on mobile devices and the screens around the building. Various parties used this to publicises their activities or maline each other. The press also expressed their own opinions just like the real media. I was one of the reporters.
There was just over a hundred people there from as far flung as Glasgow and London. It was hosted in Leeds in a church building I was looking after for the day. Hence why I was there. One of the media team had pulled out and I was roped in to replace them. Some people dressed the part. In some cases you could tell which team a person was from by looking at their attire. The Krill characters, a bird like race, all wore a face mask. There was also a team dressed in tartan from the planet Monmouth (the new colony for the Scottish).
From what I could tell, there was a lot going on. Colonies leaving the empire and thus affecting its revenue streams, pirates attacking trade routes, assassinations, kidnappings, promoting deities, demands for resignations, military and trade wars, genetic modifications, weapon sales, exploration and even a royal wedding! That is what I knew of, I suspect so much more was going on. One colony, Yang 3, kept itself out of trouble and concentrated on building military spaceships. They then sold them to both sides of a conflict. From what I could tell, a lot of thought had gone into the various factions, ministries and the empire. The mechanisms seem to work within the overall game.
The games started about 10am and finished after 5pm with no breaks. You were not on the go all of the time. After a debrief at the end, I was not sure who actually won. It was clear some teams had done well, like Yang 3. Monmouth had been bombed back into stone age with only a cow called “Moonique” left alive on one of its moons that was sold to Yang 3 in a previous turn. Yes, it became very crazy at times. One colony even bought a stake in our news team.
From what I could tell, people were having fun and everyone played their part. If you would like to know more contact – http://www.penninemegagames.co.uk/
If you were there or would like to tell us more about megagaming please leave a comment below.