Monday, July 21, 2014

Getting In Touch With My "Feelies"

Way back in 1980 (showing a bit of age here) a computer game company named Infocom published what I would consider one of the first Computer RPGs—Zork. And I, being a young geek in the 80's, spent many hours typing my way through the "Great Underground Empire." Throughout the 80's Infocom continued to publish 35 other interactive fiction titles such as Zork II, Zork IIIWishbringer, and The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy to name a few. One of my favorite parts of these games were the "feelies," the extra content included with the boxed versions of their games. 

For  example, Wishbringer came with a "Magick glowing stone, a book, The Legend of Wishbringer, that explains how the magic stone came to be, and an envelope and letter to be delivered to Ye Olde Magick Shoppe; 

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy came with, a button with "Don't Panic!" printed in large, friendly letters, Pocket Fluff, an Order for destruction of Arthur Dent's house, an Order for destruction of Earth, a Microscopic Space Fleet (an empty plastic bag), "Peril Sensitive Sunglasses" ("glasses" made of opaque black cardboard), and the game also indicates that it comes with "no tea," a key joke and puzzle in the game. The feelies really added a sense of immersion to these games for me and I would often use feelies in my own tabletop RPGs. 

Today we call them hand outs, and like in the 80's, most, if not all immersive handouts are handcrafted by the Game Master. We like these little bits of tangible fantasy in our games; anyone who searches for the perfect themed "Benny" for their Savage Worlds game or uses themed "radioactive" dice for their Mutant Crawl Classics game, or spends hours crafting an aged letter or ancient looking dagger can attest to that! So why don't more RPG publishers and companies include feelies with their products? Sounds like a great stretch goal for a boxed set Kickstarter.