Waking Life: The Card Game

Despite being a sometime (amateur) Collectible Card Game designer, I don't talk about CCGs a whole lot on this blog. But to give my Geek Week coverage as much variety as possible, I thought I'd dip into some old files and show you the card game I designed based on the Richard Linklater film, Waking Life. It's a more social game than most CCGs, and in fact, isn't "collectible" at all and came as a complete 40-card set. That's too many pics to drop on the blog in one shot, but what I propose to do is publish the rules on here, with various examples of cards for color. And at a later date, I'll use specific cards to initiate discussions on the blog, just like they would in the game. What do you think? So here goes...
Waking Life Card Game - Rules

In the Waking Life Card Game, based on the brilliant animated film (not only should it have been nominated for an Academy Award, it should also have won it instead of Shrek!), 3-8 players use cards to direct a discussion not unlike those university students might have around a cup of coffee at the school café. Philosophy, art, current affairs, they're all fair game.

Card types
There are four types of cards in Waking Life:
Topics represent subjects up for discussion.
Actions represent things you might be called on to do in the game besides discussion.
Transitions are cards that affect other cards or other aspects of the game.
Rewards are conditions for winning the game. This is the only card type that does not go into the deck.

First, shuffle all Reward cards together and hand one out to each player. Keep your Reward secret until the end of the game. If you're playing with 3 of 4 players, you may give each player 2 Reward cards instead.

Now, determine how long each turn will be, and how long the game will be. A good way to do this is to first decide how long the game will last (for example, 2 hours or 120 minutes), then divide that amount by 2 or 3 by the number of players (say, 4, which gives us a figure of 30 minutes per player). So if you want to play a minimum of 3 turns each, you might say each turn lasts a maximum of 10 minutes. (Another example, perhaps of a faster game: You have one hour to play with 6 players. That's 10 minutes each during the game, so you decide on a minimum of 2 turns per player, lasting 5 minutes each.) If you do not really have a time limit for the game, you may simply choose a reasonable length of time for each turn, and play until all cards have been drawn and played.

Then, shuffle together all the cards except the Reward cards that are left over. These are simply set aside. Place the deck in the middle of a table with all players sitting around it. Each player draws 4 cards from the deck, which represents their hand. Keep these cards secret as well. Next to the deck will be the discard area, where you put discarded cards face up.

That's it, you're ready to play!
Playing the game
The player who went to bed first last night goes first. If there is a tie, the player who got up the latest this morning goes first. Play then goes to the next player using a clockwork motion.

On your turn, you may choose to do one of the following things:
-Play a Topic card.
-Play an Action card.
-Discard any number of your cards and skip your turn.

When your turn has ended, draw the number of cards required to put your hand back up to 4, and allow the player to your left to have their turn.

Playing a Topic
Each Topic card has a question, statement or idea. The entire group has a discussion on that Topic for no more than the predetermined length of a turn. It may take less than that, but may not take more. The player who played the card goes first, but any player who has an opinion, may then react, support or oppose the player's opinion. It's a freeform discussion, go with the flow. The only time limit is the predetermined length of a turn, and if the majority of players finds a discussion interesting enough, they may decide to prolong even that. When you play a Topic, it is discarded. [This set includes 6 blank Topics so that players can include the issues they are interested in. Use a lead pencil if you wish to change that Topic again later.]
Playing an Action
Each Action card asks you to do something when you play it. This may be anything from revealing a secret to singing a song. Sometimes, it'll ask you to use a prop, like a musical instrument (you may simply improvise an instrument with something present, such as drumming on a table) or actual CD. If you do not have the necessary prop handy and cannot improvise a substitute, you cannot play that card. You can discard it and skip your turn, keep it in your hand unused for the entire game, or use a Transition card that allows you to get rid of the card. When you play an Action, it is discarded.

(If players wish to have all possible props available to them at the game, they are encouraged to bring the following things: A musical instrument they can play, a CD with a song they'd like others to hear, a DVD with a scene they'd like to discuss with the others, the image of a work of art they'd like to expose the others to, possibly a book they have read lately.)
Playing a Transition
Transition cards allow you to manipulate the game in many ways. They may be played by any player even when it is not their turn, as long as the Transition's instructions allow it. These may be used to end a discussion prematurely, draw new cards, rescue a card from the discard pile, etc. When you play a Transition, it is discarded.
Winning the game
Winning isn't half as important as having a good time and stimulating conversations, but here's what you do at the end of the game:

Each player answers the following questions on a piece of paper. You may never select yourself. If the question is not applicable, simply leave a blank space.
1. Who made the most original point during a Topic discussion?
2. Who made the most convincing point during a Topic discussion?
3. Who was most creative in performing an Action card's request?
4. Who exposed you to the most interesting work of art (any) as part of an Action card's request?
5. Whose opinions were the most relevant?
6. Who was the best "teacher"?
7. Who touched you or shook you up the most?
8. Who made you laugh the most?
One player then collects each piece of paper and calculates how many votes each player received for each question/category. Now look at your Reward card(s). For each vote you received in the category mentioned by your Reward card, you score a point. The player with the most points is the winner. There may even be multiple winners. Pat yourselves on the back and... wake up!



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