Playtesting By-election over the last three weeks has revealed that an incredibly strong aspect of the game is its theme. Games aren’t complete without a theme. While some games rely on their theme more than others for game mechanics, all rely on theme to sell the game. Without a theme you ain’t got a product!
By-election uses its theme to encourage roleplaying. The event cards are humorous and topical, which gets positive feedback at first, but probably less so over time. By creating a space for players to act out their role as a politician, (making deals with players, attacking others’ campaigns) the game introduces unique experiences on every play. Hopefully this keeps the humor fresh for longer.
Indeed, it is a silly game. This notion is anchored from the beginning, by asking players to physically attach rosettes to their clothing. A small, but significant touch, as the context of the game completely changes. The rosettes free people to play their role. It’s the rosette talking, not me!
Future prototypes of By-election may take this concept further. For example, players may have special abilities, or gain bonuses for making impassioned speeches. At some point there will be a line, from which roleplaying becomes the main mechanic of the game. Crossing this line will alter the dynamic of the game, so should be tread with caution.