The Pedagogy of Play: Bite-Sized Pieces, Part II

[this continues a series on learning the game Polaris – please refer to Part I for context]



Skills: Turning off the self-censor, listening to other players, seeing the shared dream, building on other players’ contributions. Many of the activities below come from a handy aid called the ‘Juicers’ deck, made by Creative Advantage. Each activity has its purpose in parentheses after the name, and I usually run them in the order listed. This really marks a starting place for a group of absolute, rank beginners; one can up the level of trust, intuition, and creativity manifold by later choosing more difficult games.

  1. Name Story  (gets people talking, hearing the sound of their own voice)
  2. Firing Line (learning not to censor)
  3. One Word at a Time (upping the challenge of not self-censoring,  building)
  4. Yes, and…! (higher challenge not to self-censor, building)
  5. Character Circle (seeing together, building)
  6. Color, Advance (not censor, more building and interaction, slightly modified from original version by using characters from ‘character circle’, and accenting the ‘scene framing’ skill)
  7. Counting (listening)



Skills: Brainstorming, Consensus decision making. I have shortened this section, which I’d make much longer for other games (like Primetime Adventures), because Polaris has a ready-made setting that inspired you to play the game in the first place. Watch this space in other incarnations for really cool stuff on brainstorming, and skills that will bolster the kind of setting/situation/character creation one sees in games like Shock: Social Science Fiction.

  1. Distribute One-sheet of Names, Themes/Aspects, Demons, and Oracles. (Short and sweet for Quick Play version, shorter than in the various Polaris appendices. Less choices, the better. For a chattier set up, dedicate the whole first game to character and situation creation – the rest of LEVEL TWO will assume Quick Play goals).
  2. Make Three character concepts, Pick One (Timed – 2 minutes to make three concepts, 10 seconds to pick one – facilitator picks one for those who haven’t chosen).
  3. See Me (modified version of ‘Character Circle’ – player announces their character concept/name/themes/description in 30 seconds, starting with the first Polaris ritual phrase “But hope was not yet lost, for … still heard the song of the stars”, and the group says what they see, collaboratively making the character until they reach ‘I don’t see it’).
[continued in Part III]

Written by Willem