Review!: The Game
The Review Show (formerly Newsnight Review, formerly Late Review) is a weekly BBC2 discussion show. In each episode, a moderator talks to four cultural commentators; together they discuss a selection of recent books, plays, films, operas, and so on. This game is inspired by, but not even slightly affiliated with, The Review Show.
How to Play
This is a game for three or four players and a moderator. Each player will be playing a character; each character has a name, a personality and two or three secret aims. Perhaps you're Arabella Tancredy, up-and-coming poet keen to quote from her new collection as often as possible. Maybe you're art gallery director Gibbo Gordon, and you want to talk about the important part you played in the early career of any artist under discussion (and how their work has gone downhill since then, naturally).
You can either get each player to write up a personality and its aims, and then pass them to the left (so that nobody is using the personality they made up); or you can use these prewritten characters.
Players have a few minutes to familiarise themselves with their character, and then the reviewing begins! Over the course of the game, you're going to discuss four imaginary cultural events, which you can generate using the Surprisingly Plausible Arts Events Generator.
Anything that someone says about a work under discussion is assumed to be true, unless someone else contradicts it. So if someone says "I did think the use of a live feed from the Antarctic was very effective", then the work included a live feed from the Antarctic, unless someone says something like "oh no, that was prerecorded" or "that was the Arctic, actually".
You can play without scoring, but if you want to be competitive about it, then players should keep note of how many times they fulfill one of their aims - each time they do, they get one point. Of course, some aims will be easier to fulfill than others, so you might need to swap characters and play a few rounds to really figure out who's best...
If you're using character profiles that nobody has seen before, then at the end of the game, give everyone a few minutes to write down their guesses about everyone else's secret aims (up to two guesses for each other player). They get a bonus five points for each individual aim they get right. In case of disputes, the moderator decides what counts as right.
What to do if you're a player
Try to respond to questions from the moderator, or to things other players are saying, but remember: you have your secret aims. Each time you manage to fulfill one of them, make a little tick on your character description, so you can keep track of how often you've done so.
What to do if you're the moderator
- Write down who's who on a piece of paper - just name and occupation - so that you can keep track and address them by name during the game. Introduce them all briefly at the start, again by name and occupation.
- Try to keep the conversation under control - don't let anyone talk for too long, and ask questions to keep it moving and to give quieter players something to respond to.
- Don't generate a new discussion topic until you've finished discussing the old one - three or four minutes is generally plenty of time for each topic.
- Direct your first question about a topic to a different player each time.
- Thank all the characters at the end, and perhaps give some hints about what you'll be discussing next week.
Review!: the Game was first tested at a Coney playday, by Holly Gramazio and Susanna Davies-Crook. Thanks to Doc, Nightowl, April Sinclair, Meredith and Minkette for additional words for the generator.