MALL WALK, written and facilitated by Liz Rywelski
MALL WALK is a pervasive game about relationships, consumerism, and budgeting. Purposefully mundane, MALL WALK is situated within about a group of mall walkers who walk, talk, and shop together on weekends. Some of the characters experience financial trouble with in-game credit cards.
MALL WALK was played on Sunday, November 4, 2012 8am-12pm at the Walden Galleria Mall while open to the public during Mall Walking hours (7am-10am). We met at the public entrance between PF Chang’s and The Melting Pot. The game was photo documented by the players, and the debrief was audio recorded by the GM.
Sellina keeps an even pace while the walkers chat among themselves. Weekend walks are their favorite because everyone has some free time time to break off from the group with a friend to shop after the walk. Conversations surrounding health, wealth, and children motivate the conversation in this group. Though everyone has been experiencing financial tightness during the recession, some walkers are having a more difficult time than others in making ends meet. This reveals itself during the post-walk shopping experience.
About Mall Walking:
Mall Walking has quickly become the American consumers most popular form of exercise because it is safe, simple, inexpensive, and a great way to keep up with the times and peep the sales. Almost anyone can walk, regardless of age, lifestyle or physical condition. Mall Walking is also the best way to prepare physically and mentally for a few hours of shopping. Almost anyone can shop, regardless of age, lifestyle or physical condition. Come play during Mall Walking hours and walk a mile in a mall walkers shoes.
Each character has a very different budget from the next and each budget-visualization reflects a possible personal budget from 2008-2012. Some players will get in-game debit cards (gift cards) that have real money on them. These cards may be used between the hours of 10am and 11am when you shop in character. You may buy something your character needs or wants or you may buy something for another character. Some cards will be declined, and your character must play this out in game. All items purchased are to be non-perishable items that can be returned, items are to be kept with the receipt and card and are to be brought back to the debriefing location when the game ends between 10:45 and 11 am.
About Larp, Game Design, and Art:
What is Larp? Larp is an acronym that has now become a proper word, it stands for Live Action Role Play and can be defined in many ways out from there. I prefer Nordic-style larp design over others strictly because of the mechanics and ethics designed for play. Lizzie Stark is a great resource and I encourage you to visit her website www.lizziestark.com for more information regarding Nordic-style Larp.
MALL WALK qualifies as a pervasive game, an experience built on the boundary between life and the play of life. It could also be- but is not now constructed to be- a Location Based game which utilizes GPS.
Archetype: “The Warrior”: The Warrior archetype represents physical strength and the ability to protect, defend, and fight for one’s rights.
Retail Archetype’s: GNC, Champs, Easy Spirit
Ocupation: The Office Manager for Traffic Court.
Organized, politically and ideologically driven to maintain a specific standard in the office, and single parent of two children. She paid her own way through community college and has an associate’s degree in administration that she finished, with a 3.9GPA, in two years. Sellina is a power-walker- years ago she founded the group through several local papers and has maintained it by word of mouth since. Sellina maintains the groups pace, but doesn’t push anyone too hard- after all she wants to be liked by everyone, even if her standards do get in the way.
Function in the Walk: Self-appointed leader, doesn’t get feelings hurt self-appointed if her leadership isn’t observed.
Dysfunction/personal issue: She enjoys wit-fully arguing with men to get a feeling for her superiority. This becomes a playful source of conflict.
Character goal: To feel a sense of community within the group.
Antagonist: Someone who does not “price shop” for the best deal, like Penny.
Relationship to other Walkers: Moreen and Ownie are two people she met at Traffic Court on two separate occasions. She told them about Mall Walking and they took her up on the invitation, everyone else in the group found it through the classifieds, word-of mouth, or other- so Sellina see’s Moreen and Ownie as her personally curated Mall-Walker pals!
Archetype: “Addict”: In its positive aspect, this archetype helps you recognize when an outside substance, habit, relationship, or any expression of life has more authority over your will power than does your inner spirit.
Retail Archetype’s: Banana Republic, Coach, LUSH
Occupation: HR Manager
She currently works as the Human Resources recruiter for a corporate properties management branch (company who owns/leases out the mall) but she also manages several of the new properties owned by a competing properties management branch. Mora is very highly motivated and seeks to see that those she hires will excel in business, because corporate property is the local community’s gateway to a thriving local market and their direct connection to the national standard in consumer capitalism.
Function for the walk: Inspire others to acquire material wealth (as demonstrated in store window displays), enjoy spa-like self-care (from stores located in the strip malls she manages), and enjoy meals at restaurants like Applebee’s and Outback Steak House and other chains located on the properties she manages.
Dysfunction/personal issue: Moreen cannot stand what she defines as failure. She is a former smoker who is constantly fighting her craving to smoke- mornings are worst for her.
Character Goal: To hire and/or mentor the right people to take over one or two of her management properties so that she can find time to date … anyone.
Antagonist (concept or person): The concept of“Freedom” and smokers who can talk an ear off- like can tell (or listen to) a story that is 3 cigarettes long, like Check.
Relationship to other characters: Sam is Moreen’s uncle. Aneedah recently sent an application to Moreen’s office- upon Moreen’s suggestion.
Archetype: “Saboteur”: The Saboteur archetype is made up of the fears and issues related to low self-esteem that cause you to make choices in life that block your own empowerment and success.
Retail Archetype’s: Pottery Barn, Hallmark, and Lucky Brand Jeans
Occupation: BYOB Pottery Shop Owner
Male artist, cancer survivor, and local celebrity. During his treatments his family organized a series of fundraiser-parties in order to financially support his treatments. These parties were theme parties, stripper parties, comedian showcases, celebrity chef nights- and other high profile events. People who didn’t know Ownie would travel from towns away just to attend them. These fundraisers became a solid support network for Ownie and the community really benefited from the exposure. Ownie, now in remission, owns a BYOB paint your own pottery shop located in one of Benderson strip mall properties. Though his business is successful and pulls a profit, he tends to clash with young mothers and newcomers to the town who don’t recognize or know of his local celebrity and this is causing word of mouth criticism and sudden bad reviews online.
Function for the mall walk: Center of attention—even at 9am and groggy from the previous night partying- which really means him sitting alone at home drinking wine and watching cat videos on the internet.
Dysfunction/personal issue: Hates being alone can’t find enough ears to unload thoughts on life to. Chews Nicorette = to smoking 2 packs a day.
Character Goal: To franchise his BYOB pottery shop and open a store in the mall.
Antagonist: Someone who knows him well enough to understand that he is not secure or organized enough to brand and franchise his BYOB pottery shop, like Moreen.
Relationship to other characters: Aneedah recently interviewed with Ownie and got hired but doesn’t know if she really wants to work for him s hasn’t yet accepted the job. Debittia also interviewed with Ownie and he hasn’t gotten back to her about the job yet.
Archetype: “Samaritan”: A simple example is the driver who stops in traffic to let another driver make a turn against the flow, with the result of holding up many more drivers in the process.
Retail Archetype’s: Kirkland’s, Sports Collectors Corner, and Radio Shack
Occupation: Maintenance for the deli and yard maintenance for local senior citizens, some video-work on the side.
He is a socially functioning introverted genius who spends his time collecting newspaper clippings, oral histories, taking pictures and making videos of community life and highlighting how it has changed over the past 24 years. He served in the Navy for 4 years after high school, moved back to town and has been living in the same apartment over the deli since. Sam has every intention of compiling his collection into a movie but feels limited in his ability to compete with PBS style documentary. He doesn’t want his work to look amateur- even though technically he is an amateur.
Suggested function for the Walk: To “drag ass”, “window shop” and discuss “how much things have changed over the years.”
Dysfunction/ personal issue: Sam is incredibly histrionic. As a form of self-sabotage he gives more of himself to tasks that take up his time so not to have time for his creative work- this is the source of his sadness.
Character Goal: To feel supported emotionally and intellectually by the group.
Antagonist: The very critical- like critical beyond reason, like Debittia.
Relationship to other characters:
Sam is Moreen’s uncle. Has an awkward relationship to Mort Gage. When Sam was in the Navy he was on short leave to visit home for the holidays. One night after partying with friends he go a ride home in a car full of kids. This was the car that took Mort’s partners life in a fatal crash. Sam’s friends made a pact not to include him in the details of the crash because including him might complicate his military status- and Sam ran home from the scene because he didn’t want to complicate his military status. Mort Gage does not know this fact.
Archetype: “Femme Fatale”: The Femme Fatale is a sexual and a financial archetype, and either comes from or is drawn to money and power for the sake of personal control.
Retail Archetype’s: Model Browz, Kay Jewelers, and Perfumania.
Occupation: Cart operator selling goods in center of the mall.
A young emigrant looking to “find herself “ in American culture. She gets up early on the weekends to care for her family then take the bus to the mall in order to get there at 8am. Her family thinks she runs errands for a shop at the mall but really she participates in the mall walking group- her job at the mall doesn’t start until 10am. She loves the people in the Mall Walking group because to her it is like acting in an American comedy or a sitcom. She doesn’t know what she wants to do with her future- or how religion will play into her desires – but right now she is just looking for interpersonal stimulation and alternatives to building her life in America—but more specifically in Buffalo, this weird town she finds herself in.
Suggested function: Aneedah seeks to show care for others and their hardships as they are expressed.
Dysfunction/personal issue: Aneedah doesn’t truly understand herself in this culture, as she grows more and more defined by her material desires.
Goal: To know people outside of her family and religious community.
Antagonist: The over-achievers in the group. They push her in a way where she feels the need to over perform for them, like Sellina.
Relationship to other players: Debittia and Sloan are in her age group so she ends to group with them, but Aneedah has many relations to others in the group as a sign of her permeable and friendly nature.
Archetype: “Advocate”: The Advocate embodies a sense of life-long devotion to championing the rights of others in the public arena, and a passion to transform social concerns, specifically in behalf of others.
Retail Archetype’s: Delia’s, Macy’s, Starbucks
Debittia is a high school student who excels in her classes, despite her getting left back a few times in grade school. In 8th grade she became depressed, obese, and performed poorly in school. One of her teacher advised Debittia to see the school guidance counselor who would help her get on track. This guidance counselor radicalized her she also encouraged Debittia to join clubs, gain life experience, and locate her dreams. Her grandmother, Penny, stepped in and decided to pull her into the Mall Walking group because Debittia needs the exercise and doesn’t feel safe walking around the east side or joining an intermural team at school.
Suggested Function in walk: To change opinions and act on intuition.
Dysfunction/personal issue: Debittia’s activism speaks louder than her veiled silence. Sensitive of being called a hypocrite, feels the group does not pay attention to her because she is so young.
Goal: To get professional recommendations to a college out of the city and hopefully get the Key Club scholarship from Benderson Properties.
Antagonist: The person who tries to tell her to accept her life- act locally to see change through, like Benjamin.
Relationship to other players: Penny- her grandmother- encourages Debittia to join the church in order to assist the community. Debittia really wants to develop a relationship to Moreen and gain her as a mentor.
Mort Gage (Mr. Gage)
Archetype: “Wounded Healer”: The Wounded Healer archetype emerges in your psyche with the demand that you push yourself to a level of inner effort that becomes more a process of transformation than an attempt to heal.
Retail Archetype’s: Art of Shaving, Solstice Sunglass Boutique, Artisan Elements
Occupation: “The Organization Man”, retired.
A retired Pharmaceutical CEO and widower. Mort Gage worked his way up the corporate ladder pushing controversial drugs. Today, Mort’s daily routine is to get up, feed the squirrel’s in the backyard of his mansion, mall walk, then hang out in Coffee Culture at the mall all day just people watching until about 3:30 when the students start to come into the mall. He leaves and visits his late husband’s grave, goes home, makes dinner, and does it all over again.
Suggested function: Even-handed answers are a tool of the bourgeoisie. Mort Gage maintains this idea. When asked basic questions by other members of the group he may or may not reply in great detail. Comes off to some as a quiet, humble, and sad person who has had a lot of power in their career.
Dysfunction/personal issue: He maintains the old guard of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Since Mort came up in a cultural time of silencing sexuality he has developed in a way that has allowed him to become successful in the corporate world, and happy in his own quieted relationships with other men.
Goal: To keep up with the best of them.
Antagonist: The person who reads his visual codes critically, like POS.
Relationship to other members of the group: Though he generally has an even relationship with all members of the group, he much likes Sellina because of her consistency and drive within the group. He is much agitated by Moreen and her relationship to other members of the group.
Archetype: “Hedonist”: In positive terms, it inspires creative energy in the psyche to embrace the “good” things in life. It also challenges in a positive way the collective archetypal fear of being seduced and losing control in the physical world.
Retail Archetype’s: Teavana, Swarovski, The Walking Company
Occupation: Grandmother and church group leader.
2 years ago she came to the mall early to run errands. She quickly walked into the PF Changs entrance, down the corridor, turned the corner then SLAM- she walked head on into a group of stampeding mall walkers!! They knocked her flat down and out and it was a scene!! Anyway Penny’s doctor decided that Mall Walking was actually the best rehab for her and she’s been a staple member of the group since.
Suggested function: To maintain the spirit of the group, keep up stamina- because if Millicent can do it, then by God, so can you.
Dysfunction/Personal issue: Political ideological and sometimes gets into heated conversations regarding her ideological stance on local and national politics.
Goal: To be a role model.
Antagonist: Anyone who does not accept her as a role model, like Financy.
Relationship to other characters:
Check really has the hot’s for Penny. Penny is really interested in the younger girls in the group and tried to mentor them and tries to interest them in helping out at her church functions.
Archetype: “Don Juan”: Although associated with sensuality and sophistication, this archetype represents a man preying on women for the sake of conquest alone. Sex addiction is not about sex but about the need to gain control of someone.
Retail Archetype’s: Jack Astor’s Bar & Grill, Brookstone, and GiorgioBrutini
Occupation: Manager for several coin laundry store locations in the area, but also has some side income that allows him not to have to work so much or so hard.
Sexy old swinger grandpa. Checker tells his pals that he Mall Walk’s for the “young blood”, though he attends the group randomly and is not a consistent member, like sometimes he will show up- then wander off to look at or talk to someone else and never make his way back to the group. This week his niece is in town so he is committed to playing like he Mall Walks all the time since he is “healthy and independent”.
Suggested function: To help you help him talk about himself.
Dysfunction/ personal issue: He gets along in life on his looks and believes this will never change with age.
Goal: To convince his niece- and the other players that he is independent and healthy- with lots of stamina.
Antagonist: Almost no one! Checker can go with the flow, as long as the flow has a “fountain of youth” vibe. Anyone who reminds him of his physical old age, like Sloan.
Relationship to other characters: Check was good friend of Mort’s deceased lover, though him and Mort are not close. Check is the only other social senior citizen that Mort knows who doesn’t spend his days doing regular old people stuff- but Mort avoids Check. Check likes all the ladies but most specifically he works to charm Penny.
Archetype: Engineer: This archetype also manifests as a talent for engineering everyday situations or designing solutions to common dilemmas.
Retail Archetype’s: Dick’s Sporting Goods, Build-A-Bear, As Seen on TV
Occupation: none, rehabilitation
A volunteer fireman who survived a near death experience and has turned a new leaf because of it. Mall walking was a way for him to be social, not spend a ton of money at the gym just walking on a treadmill, and a way to feel closer to his deceased mom. Penny was one of his mother’s best friends and so spending time with her is familiar and healing to him. He is single and looking to maintain basic things in life with- well at this point, anyone, even a roommate, which he is looking for.
Suggested function: Ask the “big questions in life” whatever they may be.
Dysfunction/ personal issue: too trusting in people, gullible, and gets taken advantage of easily.
Goal: To rehabilitate emotionally and find a roommate or partner.
Antagonist: Someone who does not appreciate every single second of precious life, like Moreen.
Relationship to other characters: Benjamin is attracted physically to Sloan, emotionally to Aneedah, imaginatively to Financy, and financially to Moreen. He takes advice from Checker, Penny, and Sellina- often this is conflicting advice.
Archetype: “Networker”: In its positive aspect, this archetype has a it helps us develop social flexibility and empathy that enables it to find commonality with others who might not at first seem to be potential friends, allies, or confederates.
Retail Archetype’s: Sephora, Spencer’s, Frederick’s of Hollywood
A bookkeeper for several local florists. She has a rich online life, attends kink conventions, had several characters in second life, uses online dating services, and hosts “Tupperware” parties. She mall walks because her neighborhood is sketchy and she’d rather walk with people than without- no matter who they are. Anyway she loves peeping the deals before the stores open and catching up one everyone’s love lives.
Suggested function: To loosen up the sexual tension in this group.
Dysfunction/ personal issue: Can dig for the pain in others and then mislabel, discredit, or dismiss it in conversation. Can’t relate to pain that is not her own or like it, which is usually love related pain.
Character Goal: To start a monthly swingers party.
Antagonist: Those who tell her she is preaching to the wrong crowd, like Mort Gage.
Relationship to others: Financy once met Sam at a singles party and he told her about the Mall Walking group. Moreen is skeptical of Financy but wants to hangout with her in private sometime. Financy often can’t relate to the younger girls in the group, but gets along really well with POS.
Archetype: Rebel: The Rebel in a support group can be a powerful aid in helping the group break out of old tribal patterns. It can also help you see past tired preconceptions in your field of professional or creative endeavor.
Retail Archetype’s: Journeys, Le Gourmet Chef, and Erie County SPCA
Occupation: Social Media and freelance
A local activist looking to bring a farmers market to the mall parking lot on Saturday’s and Sunday’s. POS joins the group to network. POS isn’t sure if this is the best time to network but gives it a try anyway and tried to make a good impression.
Suggested function: to merge positive conversations into action that can benefit her business plan.
Dysfunction/ personal issue: A recovering hipster, consciously tries not to reveal this side too often- but others label her a one as can be dismissive of her.
Character Goal: Get the OK from Moreen- who over see’s merchant property- on the Farmers Market weekends.
Antagonist: Someone who doesn’t see the value in a mall located farmers market, like Sam.
Relationship to others: POS wants to know more about finance, so she tries to talk to Mort Gage a lot and learn from him. She also wants to learn from Sellina since she seems to be really smart and motivated.
Archetype: Queen: Challenges related to control, personal authority and leadership play a primary role in forming the lessons of personal development that are inherent to this archetype.
Retail Archetype’s: Abercrombie & Fitch Co., Apple Computer, Williams-Sonoma
Occupation: willfully unemployed
Niece of Check, her family is our of town on business for two weeks and he is looking after her- which is odd because Sloan is 28 years old and one would think she were able to care for herself. Sloan has dedicated herself to her family- she cleans and cooks while her parents are at work and since her parents are away for two weeks, there is little to tend at home so she decided to use it as an opportunity to care for her “black sheep” older uncle. Though Check would never admit to his old age, or the need to be cared for, Sloan’s parents framed the situation as if she were the one needing care and looking after. Sloan is really enjoying her stay with Check, though his place is a mess, and she really loves her uncle so she cleans his place when he is out running errands.
Suggested Function: To encourage people to see the positive and spiritual side of the environment they are in.
Dysfunction/personal issue: Sloan is not very socialized outside of family and Internet life that leads to an inability to really connect with others.
Character Goal: To see that others love her uncle as much as she does.
Antagonist: Anyone who perceives Sloan as privileged, like Aneedah and Debittia.
Relationship to others: Sloan relates to Mort Gage and cares for Benjamin. Check is her uncle who wishes to socialize her more than to protect her from others.
Pre-MALL WALK Workshops, 9am:
Building Backstories, Affection- Ars Amandi, Monologs, Using Your Characters Debit Card, Getting Into Character talk sessions, Post-Game Debriefing
Directions: From downtown Buffalo take Rt. 190 S to N.Y.S. Thruway East (I-90E), Exit 52E (Walden Ave)
Follow the road through to Galleria Drive toward The Cheesecake Factory. Park in the nearest lot after you see the large stallion statues like below. Enter the mall through the public entrance between P.F Changs and The Melting Pot. Walk all the way down the corridor to the public seating area in front of The Walking Store. We will be seated in that area with coffee and foods.
Game Intro Video: When this video plays it marks the beginning of the game.
Game Outro Video: When this video is played it marks the end of the game.