Branch is a game about having conversations with strangers – but in order to achieve this it challenges the very nature of what a conversation is, how it begins, where is the best place to have one on the streets, about what and who are strangers or others, us, them, we, and what is this distance between people on the streets all about.
Organised by a game mistress or master, it involves four players and five local people within a pre-set game area, where the players can go out alone or with a friend. It lasts for an hour and can be played over and over again by many more people. Players receive tips and a map to find 5 local people and also receive a set of questions to ask the local people – they must ask the right question to the right local person and when they are successful they receive a symbol card. The only way to find the right question is trying – it demands that players start up conversations with local people to help them. This may not be easy, but it is important to remember that what they are trying to do is make conversations happen. The goal of this game is to collect as many symbol cards as possible.
Branch was made in São Paulo on a Mesa event in December 2015 over 4 days. A unique group of professionals were brought together to complete a mission set by Blast Theory. The individuals were chosen in advance for their various skills and experiences ranging from game design to semiotics, advertising and journalism to local/city research, print/digital design to theatre production – only people with essential skills and experiences to fulfilling the mission took part.
This was the mission “Make a system that is for and by people who don’t usually have a voice. It must be collaborative, mutable, personal and fun”. At the end of the 4 days the finished work was presented to an invited audience of 100 professional people.
Mesa are a unique organisation who run independent and corporate Mesa’s. These events are intense experiences, where artists’ or companies set a challenge or come with a problem to solve. Highly skilled people are brought together and real world finished prototypes and solutions are the result. Branch was developed during a Mesa, where artists’ projects have to have a real world social impact.
For more information go to: http://www.mesa.do/
Branch can be downloaded in Portuguese and English, and played anywhere in the world – at a school, as a part of a festival or cultural event, by a group of friends or neighbours, as a local council or corporate activity. It is adaptable to different contexts and the more you put in, the better it gets – so you can create your own questions with the local people, rewards if you want a winner and starting and ending scenarios or events.
To find out more about Branch or to download the game including full instructions, cards and customisable cards, go to: http://thebranch.co/