Everlasting, Neverending Game Night

why Dialect is so amazing

Published 3 months ago • 1 min read

Hi Reader,

Welcome! Please, come in and sit down. I thought the weather was looking up, and then we got cold rain. A good time to be inside—have some hibiscus tea. We also have rice crackers and surprisingly good toast.

Tonight, we're playing Dialect.

Dialect is a game about language and how it dies. And it's amazing.

It may sound like some wonky, crossword-puzzle kind of thing, all up in the head. But it's not. It always hits me square in the feels.

We play members of an isolated community. Maybe we’re robots, left behind on a trash-filled Earth after all the humans have left. Maybe we’re queer kids living in an abandoned parking garage. Dialect has an expansive list of options.

Whatever we choose, to make your character, you just choose a card. The card says what role you play in the community. Over the course of the game, the complete person comes into focus.

Our community has stages: it begins optimistically, grows, and ultimately dissolves. In each stage, we create words to capture our unique shared experience.

We know ahead of time that things will fall apart. Either the larger society will reabsorb us, or we’ll die out in seclusion. This makes our time together precious. For our characters, but also for us, the players at the table. It’s poignant—piercing.

When it finally ends, we’ve been on an epic journey together. And only we at the table remember the language the community spoke.

I’ve said before how ephemeral the TTRPG experience is. It leaves us with nothing but memories. In this case, we have something more concrete: the words we created.

Later, when we run into each other again, we might use those words. They’re our private language. They continue as long as we do.

I don’t know how they do it, but these words make my heart ache. In a good way. Our isolated community was fictional, but the words are real. They make the community feel real.

Tonight, I want you to have this same sense of community. And the words to give it life.


P.S. If you know another game as heart-wrenching as Dialect, please tell me all about it!

P.P.S. Sometimes we don’t want pathos, just a good time. That’s okay too! Raccoon Sky Pirates has zero pathos.

Everlasting, Neverending Game Night

by Chris Sellers, they/them

🌈🚀 Reliable wonder engine. I make narrative role-playing games that imagine a weirder, queerer, more connected world.

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