Game?

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Game?

Postby Brad Hawkins » September 3rd, 2014, 11:16 am

I was watching Jimmy Carrane's podcast with Lauren Lapkus, and she mentioned that iO and UCB have different uses of the term "Game." My understanding of the term is super-limited in the first place, having taken no classes in a school which really dwells on it, so I'm totally confused now. Can anyone tell me what UCB means by "Game?" iO?
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Re: Game?

Postby Spots » September 3rd, 2014, 5:04 pm

The game varies from school to school.

You asked about the distinction and I'm going to dissappoint you by postponing an overall list of what everyone believes. UCB is unique for a particular reason.

The UCB philosophy on the Game, particularly Matt Besser's views, are the most structured that I've heard.

They detracted from other schools who said that The Game was part of the scene. A component . Or a central focus.

Matt Besser and others believe firmly that The Game is the scene. It's not a silly little distraction or pattern within the larger thing. Game is the reason, game is everything.

Don't worry about definitions just yet.

View this from a telescope.

What happened with this new generation of improvisers was simply a sense of differentiation.

Writers who are specifically not performers began to be attracted to the art of improv.

"Forget the cathartic creation of character as the actor.

Forget I say a line. You say a line.

What I want to focus on is The Game.

What is this scene about?"


I find the UCB philosophy intriguing.

You have the unfolding of scenes NOT from an actors point of view. But from a writers point of view.

Most AsssCats I've seen took place in a static 5 x 5 foot square in the middle of the stage.

That's how cerebral writer-heavy it is.

It's not for everybody. New Movement sometimes gets very close to this cerebral view of the game during certain formats like The Megaphone, but obviously the curriculum is still pretty loose. While very much putting the game on a high pedestal.

I think The Game is a good approach or ramp to learning improv, but at some point the reigns have to loosen and you have to leave the game to your instinct.

That's just me saying what's cathartic for me. I try to alternate between shows that are game heavy and that allow for letting go.
Last edited by Spots on September 4th, 2014, 12:35 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Game?

Postby Brad Hawkins » September 3rd, 2014, 5:08 pm

Spots wrote:Don't worry about definitions just yet.


OK, I didn't, but you didn't actually get to them...
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Re: Game?

Postby Spots » September 3rd, 2014, 5:14 pm

I don't think they are important.
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Re: Game?

Postby Brad Hawkins » September 3rd, 2014, 5:15 pm

Spots wrote:I don't think they are important.


But that's my question. What is meant by "game?"
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Re: Game?

Postby Spots » September 3rd, 2014, 5:22 pm

At New Movement, game refers to the players training themselves to truly listen and get on the same page what the scene is about.

In the last scene the Game was, "the world shits on Dave and it gets worse and worse for him."

Game is the larger frame in which we choose patterns and heighten.

I don't want to stress the game so much what this accumulative training does. You get tighter and tighter with your ensemble looking for intent, character motivation, context.


But game means so many different things and I sense you'd prefer a list. Let me see if I can dig up a recent article on this.
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Re: Game?

Postby Brad Hawkins » September 3rd, 2014, 5:31 pm

Spots wrote:At New Movement, game refers to the players training themselves to truly listen and get on the same page what the scene is about.

In the last scene the Game was, "the world shits on Dave and it gets worse and worse for him."

Game is the larger frame in which we choose patterns and heighten.

I don't want to stress the game so much what this accumulative training does. You get tighter and tighter with your ensemble looking for intent, character motivation, context.


But game means so many different things and I sense you'd prefer a list. Let me see if I can dig up a recent article on this.


Thanks. What you just said is actually a really good start. The only understanding I had of Game so far was as something that happens within a scene; at the risk of describing it glibly or uncharitably, it seemed a lot like "First something happens, then something similar but more extreme happens, then finally a third even more extreme thing happens."
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Re: Game?

Postby kbadr » September 4th, 2014, 10:07 am


You work your life away and what do they give?
You're only killing yourself to live

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Re: Game?

Postby Spots » September 4th, 2014, 12:31 pm

Thanks Kareem. That's the one.
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Re: Game?

Postby jillybee72 » September 5th, 2014, 6:22 pm

It looks like maybe she works her own Facebook Fan Page if you wanted to ask her directly: https://www.facebook.com/laurenlapkusfanpage

I always thought they were the same, although I have done almost zero UCB.
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Re: Game?

Postby Spots » September 5th, 2014, 8:37 pm

It's just weight, Jill. How much emphasis does UCB curriculum give The Game?
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Re: Game?

Postby Underwater » September 8th, 2014, 1:18 am

For probably the most straight answer you're going to find for "What is 'game'?":
http://improvnonsense.tumblr.com/game

Not to get too heady, but I think via Wittgenstein's language-game philosophy that when you have improv paradigms that have developed independently of each other (e.g. UCB, the Impro System) they also develop different languages. The word 'game' is a great example of that.

So like if UCB says "finding the game is key to a good scene" the term 'good scene' would mean 'resembles well-written sketch' to them while to somebody who has only studied Johnstone a 'good scene' is a scene that gives everybody the feels.

From what I picked up on from Lauren Lapkus' interview with UCB you start the scene with an idea of what the game is going to be so you get what is funny/interesting right away. Compare this to what Carrane and the rest of us are used to, where things are intended to be discovered organically as the scene goes on. Could anybody speak to that?
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Re: Game?

Postby Spots » September 8th, 2014, 11:20 am

Players knowing what the game is at the top of the scene only applies to one format.

The Armando.

There's room for the game to be tight or loose here. I come onstage with you and have to "figure out" what your idea is.

You could argue that this also applies to later scenes of a Harold or Montage but this is semantics. Most games are discovered.

Again, I would like to stress the accumalutive training a student receives in finding the game. This hones the idea of discovery down to more nuanced analog information like body language, feelings of space and status, the intonation of voice. Your training provides you an infinite number of games based on whatever analog information inspires you.
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Re: Game?

Postby bradisntclever » September 8th, 2014, 1:07 pm

Spots wrote:Players knowing what the game is at the top of the scene only applies to one format.

The Armando.

There's room for the game to be tight or loose here. I come onstage with you and have to "figure out" what your idea is.

You could argue that this also applies to later scenes of a Harold or Montage but this is semantics. Most games are discovered.

Again, I would like to stress the accumalutive training a student receives in finding the game. This hones the idea of discovery down to more nuanced analog information like body language, feelings of space and status, the intonation of voice. Your training provides you an infinite number of games based on whatever analog information inspires you.


Don't have the time to get into this too in-depth right now (maybe later today / tomorrow?), but I think there's some confusion here. First, improv theory and teaching is rooted in semantics - so saying "but this is semantics" is a little weird. After all, this entire thread is rooted in the semantics of "game," right?

1) UCB believes there are two types of improv: "organic" and "premise-based." UCB defines organic improv as starting from nothing. These would be your sets without an opening (montages, Harolds that start on a first beat, etc.) "Premise-based" improv uses an opening to generate ideas (called "premises") for scenes in the show.
2) Premises are not games! Premises often lead to a game quickly when the idea is strong enough, but game still gets discovered and developed between the improvisers in the scene. Think of a premise as an on-ramp for the highway of a successful scene. Let's say I have a premise that's "developing an allergy to your favorite food." There's more than one way to play that. There are multiple potential games. It's up to you and your scene partner(s) to figure out which game you want to play. It's the first part of a pattern that has yet to be created. Think of game as the pattern that develops. Much like "1, 2, 3, 4" is different than "1, 2, 4, 8" one pattern is n+1 and the other is n x 2. Both are valid patterns (games), but they start from the same source (premise).

I think there's a lot of overlap with what Jesse is trying to say here. Games should be built by the improvisers. My issue is that improvisers don't know the game ahead of time (unless you're doing second/third beats, I guess) and that premise-based improv can be performed in more formats than the Armando. The Armando is the easiest one to understand by far, but even Harolds at UCB often start with openings that are used to generate premises.

Does that help? Does that complicate things further?
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Re: Game?

Postby Spots » September 8th, 2014, 1:50 pm

It definitely helps.

Premise-based is accurate because (in my view) the other person has to embrace something before a game is present.


It's going to be super-mega confusing, but we can confidently say that all games are discovered organically.


Thanks for setting me straight on that one.
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