Message a real-life friend the following invitation, suggesting characters somehow dissimilar to your actual selves (go wild!): --“We are indivisible: I’m a --. You’re a --.” (“I’m an overcompensating, middle-school birdgirl. You’re an introspective classmate attracted to me.”) Then offer the first prompt. All prompts have three parts: --Current internal, emotional experience: “I feel --” --Resulting visible external behavior: “You see me --” --One leading question, maybe introducing improbable hope or probable fear. (“I feel tired of restraining my temper. You see me clearing tear-stains before class. Why aren’t you prepared for our test today?”) Take turns providing prompts, describing scene details as needed. Answer leading questions if you wish. Include words from previous prompts wherever possible (especially identities, motives, and doubts). Play until someone ends a prompt with the following closing question, (you may replace “me” with any specific real person’s name): --“What attractive quality or potential in real-life me do you see afresh through this tale?” Answer this question by affirming your friend using a specific, real-life example of a time you saw the other exemplify that quality. Then ask back. After you both ask and answer this question once, say only “Thank you friend” before going about your indivisible lives.
I believe stories and roleplaying in particular can powerfully cultivate empathy by allowing us to see and feel events through others’ eyes. Roleplaying and stories can also allow us to more clearly see aspects of ourselves and others in new ways. Finally, affirming positive qualities in others is so powerful and underutilized.
This game aims to maximize a shortform, casual format and private, 2-player medium to hone in on exactly those opportunities in roleplaying to improve, deepen, and affirm real-life relationships. Can there ever be too much genuine affirmation among friends?
For advanced fun, try playing this game using more abstract or metaphorical characters, like groups, environments, absent ancestors or descendants, the other character’s conscience, or even more abstract or esoteric concepts like “justice”, “worth”, “faith”, “age”, or a goal. The more dissimilar a metaphor, the more it might reveal.