On Werewolf at FOO Camp 06…

09/04/2006

I’m sure Tim actually gets quite annoyed by the amount of times that people ostensibly talk about FOO Camp but actually end up talking about Werewolf – a game that is played pretty much solidly throughout the Friday and Saturday nights by up to forty or fifty people at any given time. If he does, then it’s a shame, because I genuinely think that the Werewolf action is an absolutely necessary gelling agent for the whole event. There are a lot of people at FOO and geeks are not necessarily the most naturally gregarious of people. Speaking from personal experience, without Werewolf I’m not sure that I would have been able to get passed my inhibitions last year and actually talked to anyone at all. It’s not why you go to FOO, but it definitely makes the rest of the event more pleasurable and interesting.

This year’s Werewolf action was among the best I’ve ever experienced – playing with a new group people changes the dynamic dramatically – taking a couple of games before you start to get a sense of the people around you and when they’re feeling awkward or lying. It’s always easier with people you know well who haven’t played much. By way of an example, I cite Paul Hammond’s first stint as a Werewolf. He turned sort of purple and kept smiling all the way through. Very odd behaviour. Other players were more inscrutable, with Cal in particular ploughing his way through unsuspecting villagers with a great big grin on his face and a card around his neck reading ‘villager’.

If you’ve not played Werewolf, I’m not going to describe it for you – you can find much better representations on the web of the kind of game it is. I’m just going to thank Jane McGonigal, Danah Boyd, Chris DiBona and Artur Bergman for hosting the games, and particularly Danah and Artur for taking most of the strain this time, allowing Jane to actually play for a change. She’s written up a lot of the experience of FOO on her site: It’s Foo-tacular! and remains one of the most terrifyingly good Werewolf players I’ve ever competed against.

There’s no way on earth I’m going to remember the names of all the other awesome Werewolf players, but obvious kudos goes out to Sam Ruby, Michael Buffington, Rabble, Greg Stein, Julian Bleecker and Mike Migurski. I’d like to put out a special w00t to Suw Charman and Mark Shuttleworth for the fascinating / exhausting game on Saturday night and say finally that it was particularly good fun to actually get a chance to hang out with Erik Benson, who I think is now a full Werewolf convert and hopefully a solid new friend. Colleague Simon Willison also deserves a mention for being unusually but stunningly hopeless at the whole thing.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about or why this was so much fun and so worth talking about, then can I advise you to run to any environment where you get to play a few rounds with smart people. I believe there was one such place over the weekend at BarCamp. Hopefully this should mean that an appetite for more games will emerge in the UK, that we can start moving towards the creation of a local regular Werewolf event in the UK and that in the end we’ll all be able to participate in the proposed “World Series of Werewolf” – an idea that’s time has clearly come…