Megagames: A Mega Review

A Recount of Our Day At The 'Watch The Skies' Megagame  Or The Rise Of The Mexican Mercuteo Cartel

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What the heck is a 'Megagame'? Well, they're chaotic, confusing and brilliant. Basically, megagames are games played by huge numbers of people. Think Risk on an epic scale with role playing pushing the game forward.

You work with your team/country to try to survive world threats and invasions whilst attempting to make your own country more powerful and influential over the rest of the world.
The "Watch The Skies" megagame facilitated over 200 players taking on the roles of 30 different countries, as well as several alien races and a bunch of money lusting corporations too. There were even official news teams reporting on all the goings on throughout the game. It's the entire world shrunk down to 320 people in a room; it's insane. Of course it is, that is a whole lot of players!

We had received loads of pre-game material before the big day and we watched videos of other megagames to try and make it all as accessible as possible. This definitely helped as the prospect of gaming with over 300 people can be quite daunting! We had received our roles and were informed that we'd be working in the Mexican Government.

My two brothers and I dressed in our diplomatic finest, with Mexican Pin Badges worn with pride upon our lapels. We didn't really know what to expect from the day, but we knew it was going to be quite an experience. I was playing the Foreign Secretary whilst my younger brother, Robert, was working with me as a senior ambassador, while my older brother, Paul, was the Deputy Head of Armed Forces. In these megagames you can also make your own goals and story path, so we had all agreed that we were involved in a criminal cartel family exploiting their powerful positions within the Mexican Government. Obviously we kept this 'hush hush' from the other lovely members of our team.

We met our team mates in the line; El President - Jake, Senior Ambassador - Danielle and Head of Armed Forces -  Ricardo. We began to plan the future of Mexico right away. We planned to learn to speak 'Whale' and gain them as our allies. We also wanted to become chums with our table buddies Argentina... and their scientist, who we hoped would help us to develop our technology.

The first thing you learn about a megagame is your plans mean nothing. Everything will change in a few confusing moments. After a warm welcome by Jim Wallman, creator of Watch the Skies, the game began. Within moments, the Americas were banding together to create a Science Federation called A.R.S.E (American Research in Scientific Excellence or something?) These guys were planning on researching communicating with Aliens and developing technology for America. We all agreed to pay research tokens to feed the hungry scientists and hopefully benefit from their findings. We were soon told that speaking Whale was almost impossible and so we gave up these efforts quickly. My brother Paul was already acting shady and we weren't sure if this was part of the cartel plans or if there was more going on. Shifty! Soon he was introducing us to GMIC, a corporation offering us advanced SIF defense fighters. Deals were quickly struck as Paul whispered in the GMIC reps ear and handshakes were given all round. The GMIC built a factory in Mexico, contracts were signed and as Paul and the GMIC rep walked away, we all felt a little bit dirty.

There was no time to feel things though,and Rob was soon running off to the UN to see what was happening in other parts of the world. Using my diplomatic powers, I had begun to form alliances with unplayed countries such as Cuba and Panama. Things were looking good. We were growing with no immediate threats. We had begun to clean the oceans around us to hopefully keep the Whales happy with hopes that they still might approach us. We never heard a whistle from them, let alone any whale song.

Diseases began to break out across the world and money was being pumped into problems as quickly as possible. But everything was quite pleasant in Mexico. I guess we were doing a good job! We were welcoming communication from the aliens who were entering our airspace to communicate with us. America were very aggressive (no surprises there then) and were attacking every alien in sight. Luckily, their fighter jets failed to bring the U.F.O down and the alien got through. We were contacted by an alien race known as the Association, who were willing to trade technology for cabbages. Sounded like a very good deal to us! Turns out you don't need to bother learning to speak alien when the aliens can speak human. Hooray! We sent a message back saying we were happy to meet and awaited their response...

Things were quite calm at this point and I was starting to wonder what to do next. With no problems to resolve, I was struggling to think of a new direction to pursue and so thought back to our cartel goals. I began to lie to the president about needing more influence cards which would help us win over Cuba and Panama. I would take the millions he gave me and pop them in my pocket to be used for our own criminal plans later in the game. I soon realised however, that Paul had been doing the same with the money for pollution efforts and Rob had some more money that he'd embezzled from our GMIC factory payouts. The family were taking over!

The Pope decided to make a visit to Mexico but there had been an assassination attempt which was thankfully thwarted by Paul. This helped us to get into the papers and our PR soon jumped up giving us some extra cash to play with.

At this point our President also revealed he was having strange dreams. Oh gawd, Cthulhu was coming soon! I hoped he wouldn't be making his appearance near Mexico. Halfway through the game, there would be a re-election for a country in the Americas to take a seat on the UN. The votes were in and... it was a split vote between us and Canada! This meant we would have to go before the UN and let them vote on who would gain the seat on the Security Council. Canada had their representative and Rob was to be ours. Not having too much else to do, and kind of wanting to see what the UN was all about, I accompanied Rob to the meeting. We were escorted elsewhere however and the game controllers informed us that not only had our car had been boxed in on our way to the UN meeting in New York, but we had been bagged and tagged. Because of this, we were told we were out of the game for fifteen minutes, so we went to the pub for a well needed brain break from all the chaos. We began to think about who would do such a thing to us, and the obvious answer was Canada.

After finishing our half pints of Guinness we headed back into the game. Control debriefed us; the CIA had saved us and returned us to our embassy where we were able to travel home. Someone had messed with the wrong family! We were going to find out who and we were going to get our revenge. Rob was already looking for the assassination card.

Luckily we had been voted onto the council anyway and Mexico were now a bigger power in America. Rob was to use this new role to our great advantage. We explained to our team about our abduction and lied that they had taken all our money and cards. We instead added the money to our cartel funds. Mwahaha! Everything seemed to point to Canada being our abductors, removing us so that they could take the seat at the U.N. Even the President of the U.S.A told us the Canadians were to blame and that they had apologised to the U.S.A for carrying out the kidnapping on their soil. We confronted them but were met with only denial and blame toward the U.S.A instead. We were confused but began to plot against Canada. CANADA! You will pay... in blood. At this point we were going full gangster.

Paul had been continuing to keep GMIC sweet and was making some delightfully shady deals which were now escalating into infiltrating and attacking other corporations bases. Africa was in quarantine as a zombie virus had broken out and was currently ravaging their many countries. We sent in support to help Egypt, but our Head of Armed Forces became trapped due of the quarantine. Our help was recognised by Egypt though, and they became excellent allies and would later come to our aid when we needed it most.

Rob had been helping to eradicate disease with the U.N and had been taking Mexican funds with him to pay for any support we could offer. He was actually pocketing the money for our cartel. Our president suddenly confirmed that he too had received information that Canada were to blame for the kidnapping and Rob decided that now was the time to strike. He took our assassinate card and walked up to the Prime Minister of Canada. Fortunately the Prime Minister had misplaced his doppelganger card and was eliminated. Canada were angry! That's what you get for messing with the Mercuteo Brothers. Fearful that they were planning a revenge kill, we gave our President our doppelganger card which meant he could survive an assassination attempt. We began to pour money into the defense of our country, expecting war may break out with Canada very soon.

Quarantines were soon lifted but Cthulhu had risen after an insane dance from world leaders who were having strange dreams, including Paul and our president. Who could we trust? Thankfully everyone seemed to feel better after the cultish dance, but Cthulhu turned up on the other side of the world. Luckily we were nowhere near him and Rob at the U.N was helping to push a resolution to the Elder God Problem the world was strangely facing.

Rob had also been working with the Ambassador of Indonesia to set up a drug trade, making our cartel empire more powerful whilst creating good links with Indonesia. As tensions were still building with Canada, we wanted to make sure we were ready for another hit and went to meet with our criminal friends in Indonesia to buy another assassinate card from them. Back alley deals were struck and fifteen Mega Bucks were paid. It pays to have friends in shady places.

As we returned to Mexico, I saw the Canadian ambassador having a heated conversation with our president and Armed forces correspondents. They had tried to convince Canada and the media that Rob had been under the influence of mind control when he assassinated their Prime Minister.  The Canadian ambassador seemed to be having none of it, and as things got more heated I decided now was our time to strike. My heart began to beat faster and faster. I grabbed a member of game control and carried out the hit much to the surprise of not only the Canadian Ambassador, but the rest of our Mexican team. Brutal, but beautiful. Nobody messes with the Mercuteos and gets away with it!

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In other news, Cthulhu had been destroyed. The zombie virus was slowly being brought under control. Aliens were abducting whales, humans and cabbages by the thousands. America and Canada were making an alliance to invade Mexico. Uh oh! Paul had told me that our President had been toying with the thought of giving up Rob to the Canadians in hopes of getting peace back, but that was before we'd assassinated another of their team. Hearing of our presidents thoughts of betrayal, we began to plan our coup of the Mexican government. We had some of the funds but GMIC were offering us a fortune to help them destroy their competitors. We were ready to make our move. We needed to overthrow our own president but he still had that doppelganger card that would keep him safe. I made up a ridiculous story that Canada were coming to revenge kill me and asked to borrow the doppelganger card for a few turns. The country would soon be ours, muahahaha!

Canada and U.S.A began their assault on Mexico. Luckily, we had upgraded everything we could afford and Egypt had offered a huge amount of military support ensuring we could defend our country for now, but our enemy were still coming...

And that is when the game ended!

Breathe. It was an incredible day. This is the best account I can write down from an intensely immersive and confusing event. I've probably got a few details and timings wrong, and have definitely missed loads out, but whatever, a lot of crazy things happened and I loved every minute.

I would recommend you get to a megagame when you can. I'll definitely be attending some more. Its a huge scale collaborative story telling event with hundreds of tales to tell. Everyone has their own perspective, their own version and I love hearing snippets or seeing clips of other peoples experiences. It's a great example of how history is told from individuals that were there and the picture only gets clearer by more people telling their tale of events.

Remember β€œHistory is written by the victors.” We were all winners because we got to be there. Hooray!

By David Murcutt