“Adopt-A-Rock!”

I’m currently enrolled in a video game development class and we were given an assignment to create a “physical game”, or, a game that isn’t played on a computer. I made mine more narrative based. Before I relay the premise and rules, I’d first like to say I in no way actually condone playing this game and it’s going to be pretty brutal as a fair warning for those of you with weak constitutions. Here’s the pitch:

“Adopt a Rock!” would be played in a group (3+ people). Much like having a pet rock, the participants each adopt a rock and declare that they will raise it from infancy into adulthood. The maturation of the rock is fairly short, so the rearing will only take place throughout a week. The week is sectioned off into different points in the rock’s life and each day there are tasks the parent of the rock must perform to ensure the rock makes it into a prosperous adulthood. If one of the participants loses their rock or misses any of the tasks that needed to be performed, they are stoned.

The game is a microcosm of not being able to live up to society’s expectations and the ensuing punishment that follows. In rare cases, if all or more than less participants lose their rocks, they can stone the outnumbered parents. Such cases reveal the hypocrisy that lurks steadily beneath society’s most upheld traditions. If someone is stoned and the game is chosen to be played again, there is a probability that a person who has already been stoned will not be able to properly perform all the required tasks due to previously received injuries. This is a game not meant to be played, but observed to understand the narrative that has been created.

Inspiration for this game was drawn from Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery”, the satirical elements from Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”, and, the ever popular 70s craze, “Pet Rock”.

And here is the actual set of rules

*Note: Rock puns are bolded for unnecessary emphasis:

Rule 1: You will adhere to the guidelines provided.

Rule 2: If you do not perform all of the necessary activities, you will be subjected to pain. (I.E. You will be stoned.)

Rule 3: Majority rules (A.K.A. Numbers matter. If there are more losers, they can overrule both Rule 1 and 2 and subject the winners to pain instead (I. E. They will be stoned.)

Rule 4: If the numbers of winners and losers is tied, pretend the game never happened. What rock child? You never had a child. You never had any friends either. Everything from the past week is to be forgotten by any means necessary. If it is addressed in anyway, someone’s getting stoned.

Rule 5: If this is not the first playthrough, there is no help allowed to those who have been subjected to pain previously. They must work through any disabilities given to them from previous rounds.

Day 1: Pick a rock. Declare this your rock. This is your child. Your helpless, infant, sedimentary child. You will raise them from infancy to adulthood. During your first day, you and your rock make a play date with all the other new parents and rock children. You carefully help them move around and get excited for them whenever they learn a new word or take their first steps. But beware. Piss poor acting is frowned upon and you don’t want your rock advancing faster than the other rock children. As the parent, this falls on your shoulders to manage, because rocks do not skip grade levels by themselves. They only skip if you throw them.

Day 2: Once more, you meet up with all the other rock parents. It is your rock’s first day of school and everyone is a little bit nervous, for more than just a few reasons. You all lay your rocks down in an open space and say heartfelt goodbyes. Tears are mandatory. You then go off and play a separate pretend game together. When recess ends, you go to retrieve your rocks.

Helpful tip! Praying that other kids haven’t moved or stolen your rock does nothing but ease some of your fears. There is no God.

Day 3: Your rock parent group meets once again. There’s an important soccer match today and all of your rocks must participate in this mandatory extracurricular activity. Who knows? It might look good on a future college application. Some of them probably look back that far, right? You begin kicking your rock from one end of the play area to the other, being careful that your rock doesn’t fly too far away where you might not be able to find it. As long as you make it to the other end, you are safe. The parent that comes in first must congratulate their child while the last parent to arrive must berate their child, either commenting on how they were disappointed or critiquing their performance.

Day 4: Middle school is probably the hardest time for every rock. You meet with your friends once more and bring your rocks together so they can attend classes. Each of the parents will take turns giving a lesson to the rocks. You must come prepared with materials and interesting facts, but don’t try to outshine your friends too much.

Helpful tip! Whatever you do, don’t stutter. Middle schoolers can smell weakness and they can unleash all their pent-up frustrations at the drop of a hat.

Day 5: Your rocks are now high schoolers. Their classes are harder and the pressure to polish themselves until they’re the diamond you’ve always wanted has been building up for quite some time. As such you must act out a futile suicide attempt. You set the scene and get creative. Extra praise is given to those that add lots of entertaining drama. When your rock ultimately cannot go through with the attempt or is pulled back from the brink of death, you have to end on a heart to heart where you must come off as seeming sympathetic but hint at the fact that you have no idea what your rock is going through and you will never fully be able to understand it. Really cement that your rock is alone in its feelings.

Day 6: Your rock is a college student now, and, as such, they must get a job to help pay for their tuition. Each rock gets a job in retail and each parent must now act as a grouchy old person, ruining their day. The idea is that this customer is actually the parent in disguise, going to the rock’s workplace so they can be taught patience and the value of hard work. You may be as cruel to the rock as you can and your rock can do nothing but take the abuse. Rocks don’t speak or move so this should be the easiest task.

Day 7: Day 7 is judgement day. If your rock has made it to the end, a hardened adult, ready to take on the world, congratulations! You’ve won! If you have lost your rock or have failed any of the tasks provided throughout the week, you are to receive your punishment. You will be labelled a “Bad Parent” and you will be stoned. If more people are “Bad Parents” than “Good”, enact Rule 3. If there is a tie, enact Rule 4.

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