When I left you hanging a month ago I was planning my best friend and bandmate Gina’s bachelorette party with two of her other best friends, and we were all determined it had to be the best party in the history of all parties.
One month out from the event we were still trying to piece together dozens of ideas for an Amazing Race-style event when I had an epiphany: Gina’s party would be a video game. Here is my actual verbatim pitch to fellow BFFs-of-Gina Kelly and Mikki:
I know I am completely insane and you can say no to this, but what if the way we put a wrapper on the entire day is not that it’s Amazing Race but that it is a giant Gina-themed video game, a la her lyrics in “Fisher Price”? It wouldn’t change any specific task, but it would give us a way to theme the events. We could even make up a little “Strategy Guide” to give to her at the beginning with hints and stuff :)
Or, I am insane.
Even if I was insane, Kelly and Mikki are equally so, and they immediately bought into the idea without a moment’s pause and continued to fire off increasingly more ridiculous plans for the day, such as:
I was thinking it would be fun to get gina a labcoat for the chemistry [demonstration]…decorated and bedazzled of course.
While I was excited that they liked my idea, I was also terrified that I now had to transform a day wandering the streets of Philadelphia with 20+ guests into a live action video game. Not just any video game, but a decidedly retro one that would click with a group of people who grew up on classic Nintendo – and, for many of them (including my co-planners), hadn’t played a video game since!
It was at this juncture that I pulled out my Nintendo and SNES and started skimming through instruction booklets.
Most old-school video games share a basic architecture. A character has to accomplish something (return home, free the princess, kill all the zombies, etc), defeating increasingly difficult challenges (monsters, puzzles, etc) along the way. Their victories yield rewards (points, items, etc) that serve to increase their sophistication (levels, powers, etc).
Gina’s journey was clear – she had to complete all of the previously disconnected Amazing Race challenges to move through the city. We were lucky to have a starting point on South Street and an end west of the city, making a sensible (if not linear) world map.
I drafted an intro to Gina’s game booklet as a sort of proof of concept of merging 80s video game hyperbole with our shared pithy sense of humor:
Gina F____: Chemist By Day, Rock Star By Night – The Almost Married Edition! is an epic adventure that will take our hero, Gina, on a journey from one end of Philadelphia to the other to transform her from Chemist By Day, Rock Star by Night to Chemist By Day, Rock Star By Night, And Also Bride!
In GF:CBDRSBN-TAME!, Gina will visit key locations of power to defeat challenges, level up, and energize her POWERFUL BRIDE POWERS. Along the way, complete special tasks on the TABLE OF PERIODIC ELEMENTS OF GINA & WES board to complete her special WESLEY QUEST.
Gina won’t be able to defeat GF:CBDRSBN-TAME! alone – she will be abetted by friends and buoyed by special power-ups during her journey.
Powers? What powers?!?
This is where my cohorts saved me from writing our event to death with their amazing creativity. While trying to dream up rewards, Kelly thought of making a grab bag of pixelated party favors. Meanwhile, after hearing Kelly’s idea for the favors, Mikki began to design a series of elaborate stencils. The idea was that each one was based on one of our challenges, and could be sprayed onto the shirts we planned to give to all the guests.
With a cohesive visual interpretation to tie the video game concept together, the layout of our game was suddenly much clearer. Now I simply had to figure out how Gina could play this game along with twenty of her closest friends.
Tune in next time to hear about my concept of gameplay as our preparations became increasingly frantic with less than two weeks until Gina would take the controls of her own personal video game!