8Players [Review]

A wild 90s teen murder mystery.

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Date Played: January 17, 2018

Team size: 8; tickets are purchased in singles and pairs only

Duration: 120 minutes

Price: $75 per ticket

REA Reaction

8Players is a LARP. Anticipating and obfuscation blew 8Players out of proportion. It became something larger than it could possibly pay off. We had a great time; we made ourselves a pretty fun show. However, we would have had a lot more fun if we’d approached the evening with accurate expectations. 8Players‘ intrigue was its own worst enemy.

Who is this for?

  • People who like to act
  • People who can think on their feet
  • People who are excited to participate
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Over-the-top 1990s teen horror drama
  • Anticipation
  • Nonstop involvement

Story

Each of us privately received an email describing our character’s age, gender, and style.

The story – our story – took place the night after a massacre at a high school party in the mid 1990s. Each of our characters played some part in a campy 90s high school horror murder mystery.

The only question bigger than who did it was why.

8Players roleplaying experience logo.
Like an idiot, I forgot to get a picture of us decked out in costumes. I blame the cold weather.

Setting

We were given a secret address a few days prior to the game. The location was in Brooklyn, not too far from a subway line.

We played 8Players seated around a small table in a nifty library / classroom environment. I know exactly where we were, but I’m going to withhold that bit of information because it seemed like the folks from 8Players wanted it to be a mystery.

Gameplay

Each player took their character notes, showed up in costume, and played the experience.

8Players didn’t divulge the gameplay structure. Out of respect for this, we’ve hidden it behind a spoiler. That said, we know at least a couple of people in our group wouldn’t have attended if they’d known how this would play out.

Structural Spoiler

After we were gathered and seated around our table, we were each given an opening statement about our character that we read aloud to the group in a pre-determined order.

From there we were given two-sided pieces of paper with our character information. One side contained information about ourselves that we needed to divulge over the course of the act. The other side had personal secrets that we would have to reveal if pressed by another player, but otherwise should be kept to ourselves.

We were given a few minutes to read everything to ourselves. Then our costumed, in-character facilitator began facilitating dialog by instigating conflict between the various characters. We sat around the table taking turns divulging each other’s secrets and deflecting or confessing to our own.

Each act followed the same structure. The key difference from act to act was our level of comfort with the game. This wasn’t a competition. The gameplay was improvisational role play. The objective was to collaboratively generate fun dialog. As a personal sub-game, I tried to say funny things that would make the facilitator crack.

8Players concluded when we were all given a closing confessional statement about our character and their part in the evening’s mayhem that we read aloud in order.

[collapse]

Standouts

8Players excelled at anticipation. Their website, pre-show communication, costume notes, and meeting point/ tactic piqued our curiosity. The lack of any additional information kept us curious. We were intrigued.

8Players nailed our roles. They sent a pre-show survey and relied on our answers to assign us characters. They pegged everyone correctly. The role assignments also allowed our quieter players to hold back a little bit.

Throughout the performance, we received written information about the characters (our own and the others). The written material was concise and digestible.

One actress guided the evening’s interaction. She was a moderator in character. She expertly guided us through the narrative. She also kept us from awkward or quiet moments. This was a well-honed moderation style.

Our group: Everyone went for it. This included both friends and strangers (who, as it turned out, read this website). We were hilarious. We made our own show.

Due to the mysterious and controlled beginning, we entered the game in-character. While we were in the experience, we were our characters. The structure forced us to keep our true identities hidden throughout the event.

Shortcomings

In 8Players, we were the show. Our mysterious moderator didn’t perform for us, she instigated dialog. If we failed to pick it up and run with it in a satisfying way, we were going to have a disaster of an experience. There was no room for passive play.

Pre-show communication made a big deal of mandatory costuming, but our efforts felt like a waste. Almost every player in our group went to great lengths to put together a themed getup from head to toe. The show, however, took place around a table. Anything below the chest didn’t matter at all. We couldn’t incorporate any props. We were enormously frustrated… I was especially annoyed because I had lugged a guitar across two rivers because it fit my character perfectly.

We attended 8Players on a January evening. We approached the meeting point at exactly 7:53, as instructed. Then we waited outside, in costume, in below freezing temperatures… for a least 10 minutes. We were not thrilled.

Although we had a lot of agency to affect 8Players – to speak, joke, conspire, and point fingers – we couldn’t maximize this freedom because we didn’t know enough about our characters. If we invented the unknown, we’d later find out we’d invented incorrectly and be left backpeddling.

In the end, our agency was only perceived. We could not change the outcome of the show. Our participation affected the moment, but not the narrative.

The conclusion was so preposterous and over the top that even those of us who had suspended disbelief throughout the experience were left bewildered by the end of our tale.

8Players cost $75 per ticket. That was a steep price for this gameplay structure. Even though we had a lot of fun, given what else is out there, we don’t think it was worth it.

Tips for Visiting

  • 8Players is currently sold out for its winter 2018 run.
  • The facility is walkable from a subway line.
  • There are ample food and drink options in the area.
  • This is not a puzzle game, nor is it theater. Attend if you want to role play with friends and strangers.

Book your session with 8Players, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.