Echo in NYC

Musing into the void

Stories in Silence

Okay, so visiting one of the topics I thought of before: wordless storytelling games. I’ve played a few of these with little or no speaking, and every time they leave a lasting impression on me, so I’d like to explore that a little bit.

For context: when I mean a storytelling game I mean what’s often called a LARP. I prefer my term as it’s not particularly associated with LARPs in most American minds, including my own.

So, if you’re doing roleplaying, how the heck do you do it without speaking? Well, you do it with body language. With facial expressions. With sounds that convey meaning without being speech, like screams, sighs, moans, and so on.

Some good examples of this include White Death, And That’s It, Spellbound, Before and After Silence, and others that elude me at the moment.

All of them have various reasons for the silence, but regardless I feel that this design choice provides a fascinating role in eliminating a barrier for the experience. When you have to portray a role using words, part of yourself needs to come up with the right ones, to analyze the situation and express yourself. It allows quite a lot of nuance and precision, yes, but it also is another cognitive load.

In contrast, using gestures, facial expressions, and body language feels much more fluid. I find that personally by focusing my energy on that expression it makes me so much more grounded in my own body. I feel myself be present in ways I don’t normally experience.

Another aspect that helps with going wordless is the space that makes for music. At least in my experience, music can evoke such a range of emotions and suggest themes in ways that instruction simply can’t. It does require a good playlist to be created, but if it works it really works.

And when it does, when that barrier between my body, my character, and my feelings falls away… that’s led to some of the most intense and memorable experiences I’ve ever had in these games.

Something to think about:
Can we replicate this outside of games like these?
And if so: how?

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