This winter I discovered a new kind of game genre that completely enchanted me. My friend Oliver suggested I check out Field Guide to Memory by Jeeyon Shim and Shing Yin Khor. It took me about 1.2 seconds after loading the game page on itch.io to decide that I absolutely wanted to try it!
Field Guide to Memory falls into a gaming genre that has several names. The ones I see most often are solo journalling game, solo RPG, or keepsake game, since, through the act of playing the game, the player creates a precious and personal object, a keepsake that serves as a tangible reminder of their experiences. I love this sort of ludonarrative experience: the introspective nature of it, the DIY arts and crafts parts, and of course the writing that remains at the heart of everything. A week ago, I decided that I was going to play Field Guide to Memory every day — or almost, since I managed to do 5 out of 7 days. Each new day in the game consists of a little reading, an imagination and writing exercise, and sometimes a little art/collage activity to decorate the player character's field notes.
I gave myself an extra condition to more easily integrate the game into my daily writing practice: I agreed to take no more than 7 or 5 minutes per writing activity. The very short time limit forced me to be intentional and concise. Plus: the time limit ensures that I don't have enough time to start overanalyzing everything, which is usually the thing that blocks me the most when I'm writing. I found the first five days of Field Guide to Memory very enjoyable, and extremely effective as a warm-up before longer writing sessions.
Each day, the exercises build upon the previous days to reveal a mystery and bring the player character to life. On top of the creation of a little decorated notebook, the actual keepsake, actually creating a rather fleshed-out story based on the game creators' writing prompts is very satisfying!
On top of everything, I think the themes of Field Guide to Memory (at least in this first part) are super successful at creating an inviting atmosphere. For me, the game easily lends itself to an ecocritical consciousness, with a good dose of those best "Monster of the Week" episodes of the X-Files. After 5 days, I've finished the first quarter of the game (the game is played in 20 days, separated into four sections). The activities are built around the dissappearance of a world-famous cryptozoologist, and how your character tries to take over her life's work.
If you like role-playing games, mysteries, science fiction and especially cryptids, or maybe if you are looking to spice up your writing warm-ups, I highly recommend taking a look at Field Guide to Memory!