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Mind of Sandra Birch

“It’s Inside Out, the game”

I have a short list of go-to GMless pickup games, “games to play at a moment’s notice.” What I’m always looking for are games you can jump into easily but still have endless replay, usually because they handle a lot of different flavors of fiction.

Mind of Margaret is one of the few games on that list.

You tell the story of one main character, but each of us role-plays different emotions inside that person and debates what they should do at key points of their story — hence the “Inside Out” reference.

We played it recently, as part of Go Play NW this summer: Sandra Birch is trying to rediscover life after ending her marriage of twenty years. She has shared custody with her nearly-adult and eternally opinionated children. Her job is head of HR at the community college, but her dream is to go back to painting, which she gave up when she got married.

A pretty ordinary human situation, right? Not super dramatic. But one thing I love about Mind of Margaret is how even the most mundane decision is dramatic and interesting to play once the emotions start debating. Should I join the chess club? Should I pet that dog? In most games those would not be meaty scenes, but in Mind of Margaret all the inner drama comes out.

Sandra’s excited to discover that she’s sold her first painting! She’s doing it! But when her kids let slip that the buyer is really her ex-husband (“the patronizing bastard!!!”), will her Resentment, Fear, or Love decide whether to throw it back in his face?

Will Sandra revert to her maiden name? Will she try to finish that old painting she started in college? Will she let her new boyfriend sleep over? Every debate digs right into the *why* of each decision. There is no such thing as an uninteresting question once the emotions get their hands on it, because they’re all referendums on who this person really is and what drives them.

And while, yes, Mind of Margaret rocks “mundane” human stories like Sandra Birch, it also scales perfectly in the other direction. You can decide whether to attack the Death Star or slay the dragon. Both ends work great. It’s solid exploration of the human condition.

What I’m saying is, you should play it… but which emotion will win, your Curiosity, your Bravery, or your Doubt?

    Ben Robbins | September 6th, 2022 | | leave a comment