If you’ve been waiting on this after reading about it here, head over there right now for all the details! And thank you for your patience… it’s been a long time coming!
[Update: 3 years after I wrote this post, Consentacle is on Kickstarter! Thank you for your patience. In the intervening time I was juggling a lot of other things: starting to teach full-time, getting married, and moving into a new home where we had to fix the ceiling! And then I finished the slowly-advancing plans for production. In case you’re curious about my design notes below about what’s coming next, all those thoughts were part of the design goals for the new set of Advanced Cards that will ship with the game if it’s fully funded. The most ambitious ideas (more characters to pick from, purely competitive sex, three-player mode) didn’t survive the testing and design exploration process — some of them definitely wound up in “yeah… that’s a different game, not this one” territory.)]
[Important Note that’s important enough to go at the top: you can get the rules for Consentacle here!]
Consentacle debuted at the 5th annual No Quarter exhibition of games, which was a great success! Thanks to everyone who came out to try Consentacle and the other three No Quarter games (Slam City Oracles, Corporate Vandals, and Dog Park). The game worked better than I had hoped in a public setting–despite its racy nature and the fact that it’s a card game that takes a little time to learn–and Evan Narcisse was on hand to do a write-up for Kotaku.
The most common question I’ve gotten since setting the game up at No Quarter is “how do I get this game?” It’s not currently for sale–there are only four complete sets in existence, in part because Melanie Bossert only had time to cut a limited number of Trust and Satisfaction Tokens. I’ll have at least a set or two at Indiecade in a few weeks for those who’ll be there and can track me down while I’m helping to run this year’s conference sessions.
Beyond that, what’s next? I’m overwhelmed by the positive reception and interest in the game, and something like a Kickstarter is not out of the question in coming months. Because the current version of Consentacle was put together in the space of a few months especially for No Quarter, there are a lot of issues to sort out before that can happen. One one hand, making sure we can do production of things like tokens and playmats is important to me, since Consentacle is particularly physical and… sensual? Even more than those logistics, however, I don’t consider the rules and cards of Consentacle to be final yet. In addition to being a game about consensual sex, Consentacle is designed to be a game that straddles two genres–cooperative games with limits on information, such as Hanabi or Way, and deck-designing games with complex resource management, such as Netrunner. Consentacle currently has only two pre-built decks: Kit and Dup, the two characters shown in the image above. These two decks are great as an introduction to the game: they’re symmetrical and work well together. We were originally hoping to have two more identity cards (Kulos and Joe, both more on the masculine-presenting spectrum) with slightly different decks to choose from, but there just wasn’t time.
So, what’s the point of all this? Why would you want to WAIT to get your hands on these cards, with their gorgeous James Harvey illustrations? Well, my goal for Consentacle is to explore these themes–consensual sex, intimacy and turst, different and othered bodies–in a game that’s relatively easy to learn, but also deep, replayable, and expressive. The current version has convinced me this is possible, but there’s a ways to go still. In case you’re curious or tantalized, here’s what I’m working on in terms of the design:
This is all a preview of a design process that I’m just beginning now that No Quarter is over — and it’ll probably all change quite a bit before there’s a version of the game you can buy! I’d love to know what you think, especially if you’ve already played the No Quarter version of Consentacle. Alternately, if you’re not among the few people who got to come and play the game during the exhibition–does reading all this still leave you feeling like “I don’t care, just SELL me some cards immediately, even without the fancy laser-cut tokens!?” Or maybe you’re just like “how can I get some of that amazing artwork?” I’d love to any or all of the above, or other reactions as well; your support and thoughts are helpful for getting this game to the next stage where, I give you my solemn vow, it’ll be even more worth owning. Feel free to leave comments here or tweet at me.
A lot of people have written me or left comments and tweets saying they’d love to playtest the game. Since the No Quarter version is all done and I’m going back to the design board to work on the above stuff, it’s likely I won’t have another version that’ll be useful for me to playtest for some time. However, if you leave a comment saying you want to playtest, with an e-mail address (they’re not visible to the public, don’t worry) I’ll put you on the playtest list for a future print & play version of the game.
Posting about one of my own games for a change: I’m honored to be one of four New York City game-makers that were asked to create a game for the fifth annual No Quarter exhibition of games. My game is called Consentacle, and it is:
a cooperative card game for two players;
that represents a consensual sexual encounter between a curious human and a tentacled alien;
where the players have to figure out how to build trust and do sexual things with each other, even if they can’t communicate easily.
Consentacle was first announced during the Sex Games panel at this year’s edition of the amazing Different Games conference, and although I talked a little bit about the background of the game (which at that point was a little embryo) I’ve only shared snippets since. Here’s a further look at the game in mock Q&A format, although I’m not releasing full rules before No Quarter, in part because some rules are still in flux.
So it’s a game where you have sex? How does that work?
My earlier sex-centric game from around 2006, Sex-Mix, is a simple set of rules for playing a game during sex. It makes sex into a hopefully hilarious and disruptive competition, and quite possibly makes the sex you’re having worse. Consentacle, on the other hand, is just a representation of sex. You can play it with friends… even if you don’t intend to have actual sex with them! It’s flexible like that. It’s also not NC-17 explicit in its depictions of sex–in part because the game’s meant to be played in public at the exhibition, possibly by people who aren’t sexually interested in each other, but mostly because it wasn’t really necessary to go really blue.
The cards in Consentacle mostly represent actions that you’d like to do with each other–from staring intensely at your partner to licking them or restraining them. As in many deck-based card games, each player has their own deck of cards from which they draw a hand and play cards; each player simultaneously plays one card from their hand, and depending on the pair of cards that’s played, you carry out different actions in the game. Those things mostly have to do with moving around and exchanging a resource that each player has, called Trust. Trust is represented by colored tokens: red for the alien player, and blue for the human. (A rough version of both tokens is shown above — they fit together.) When you’ve done that, you draw a new card and start the next turn; the last turn starts when you have no cards left to draw.