I have been up for almost two nights in a row and not slept very much this week. Once a thought permeates my head, it refuses to leave as I seem to weave a mind map inside my brains until I figure a solution.
I wanted a narrative, a story that would unfold with the outcome. I didnt know at the beginning of this Unit what this story was going to be. It still seemed like words were all over the place. My words that I was focussing on, like war, peace, destruction, death, slay, kill, defeat, victory were leading me in a direction where I wanted to explore the idea that we are doomed to repeat history and doomed to repeat our mistakes. That we never learn. Further explorations lead me towards outcomes like perhaps an illustrative book with an interactive element like envelopes within the pages that would hold illustrated cards with information, something to do with rulers/dictators who have left their ‘mark’ in history leaving a trail of death and destruction. Or perhaps a board game…chess?….maybe a different kind of chess??…or how about monopoly? a different kind of monopoly, one that would involve kingdoms.
Suddenly like an epiphany appearing from nowhere, it struck me. What about the fatal game of dice in the Indian epic, the Mahabharata? Where Yudhishthira is invited by his conniving cousins to play a game of dice with their uncle, Shakuni. The stakes are high as Yudhishthira loses his kingdom and finally his wife, Draupadi. The outcome of this game leads to an exile and a fourteen day battle which is a bloodbath. While Yudhishthira and his brothers avenge the defeat of the game of dice, when they finally win the war against their evil cousins, it feels flat and emotionless.
I thought this would be the perfect platform for the game I had in mind. The final outcome shaped into the game of dice that followed the ancient cross shaped board, hand illustrated in Madhubani style (Madhya Pradesh, India). Dice. Player cards, where players choose whom they want to play as (dictators/conquerors). High stakes by the players symbolised by empty pistachio nut shells and a rule sheet. Whoever reaches the centre of the board first wins. However, the winner has a choice : he/she can either lay claim to the stake or return it to its rightful owner, the opponent. This questions the very premise of the game of dice, which is about winning, losing, humiliation, victory. When the winner has the choice of returning the stakes, does it dilute the excitement? the adrenalin rush of the win??
I wanted the outcome to be open-ended, engaging, interactive, thoughtful. I have tried my best and enjoyed the process of the telling of a story while doing so. It has been an interesting journey. I never envisaged the outcome that I ended up with when I first began the explorations. These last few weeks have thrown open new doors to ways in which one can approach concepts with a free mind and play with the elements as they build up. Have fun with work.
It has been an exciting, exasperating, frustrating and rewarding five weeks.