Gen Con SoCal ran from 2003–2006, which is how I know that in one of those years, I learned about Band or Album from Ken Hite.
Essentially, Band or Album is an observation: That every word or phrase in English is the name of a band, or of an album, but never of both, and there is always a single correct answer to the question of which. Need proof? Try it out.
I can’t remember whether Band or Album was a game in any formal sense when Ken brought it up, or whether we gamified it later. Either way, since whenever-it-was, we’ve added written rules and commentary, a game piece–cum–totem, and a method of playing on social media complete with a #bandoralbum hashtag.
Today I’m launching a Band or Album Kickstarter campaign, which has two purposes: To spread a fun idea, and to get it out of my system.
Spreading a fun idea is simply a Good Thing. I love Band or Album and I want to share it with you.
It’s less clear why I’ve become nigh-obsessed with the idea of publishing Band or Album, to the extent that it appears to require an exorcism-via-crowdfund to once-and-for-all drive out the idea that, “One of these days, I really oughta publish that thing…”
But as this campaign neared and I thought about it more and more, the reasons orbiting my need to get this thing out of my system have come into greater focus. There are basically four.
I’m a game designer, and I have this conviction that things are more fun when they’re formalized.
I love clever things, things that fit together and do what they do even better because they’re well-designed. The core observation of Band or Album is clever, exceptionally so, and all the more because it’s non-obvious. It delights me.
I like funny things. Analytically, something’s funny when it’s simultaneously logical and illogical; essentially, humorous things are really well-designed nuggets of communication. The central Band or Album conceit is funny: The suggestion that there are formal rules for something so idiosyncratic. But also: That those rules seem to actually work is funny. And what’s more: The play it generates is also intrinsically funny, because it’s not like anyone sets out to name bands and albums in their everyday conversation. So Band or Album brings welcome humor to everyday chat, and that’s great.
The least obvious reason I love Band or Album — my wife is responsible for this observation, though she didn’t make it about Band or Album — is that my own conversational style is that of a grenade lobber. If you know me very well, you know that I’m an introvert, emotionally recharged by being alone rather than being with others. As an introvert with functioning social skills, my style is often to lurk at the edges of a conversation and hurl short, crafted observations and additions into the dialog. They’re funny, if I can manage it, because laughter an one of this introvert’s ways to immediately gauge social success. And hey, how about that: Lobbing short, funny observations and additions into an ongoing conversation is exactly how you play Band or Album.
I hope you’ll have a look at the Band or Album Kickstarter. If you love some of those things that I love about it, please consider backing it. Also, and perhaps even better, if you know someone else who loves those things, I’d be grateful if you passed the word along. Crowdfunding only works via word-of-mouth, and yours would help me out. For the duration of the campaign, the bandoralbum.com domain will forward visitors to the Kickstarter page, so it’s as simple as saying, “Hey, check out bandoralbum.com, you might dig that.”
I’m looking forward to your help, and to playing Band or Album with you. Thanks in advance!