Only a Game
is a non-fiction role-playing game, played in text and pictures over the
internet by no more than about a hundred players. Its Games Master (GM) is
Chris Bateman, who designed some of the more trivial mechanics. However, much
of the game mechanics were designed by an unknown entity or process known
variously as God, the Universe, Fate, Time, Chance and a number of other names.
In this role-playing game, or RPG, players take the roles of people who have fallen by chance into the reality (or mind, or sometimes language game), of Chris Bateman. The GM describes aspects of this reality to the players, who respond in a number of different ways. Most common is to say and do nothing at all. However, some players go and talk about the latest events in the game to other people. A few respond, directly or indirectly, to the GM. It is these responses, by and large, that drive forward what can be considered the narrative of the game (although it is, always remember, a game of non-fiction). There are occasional bouts of time travel, as parts of the reality exposed at an earlier point in time are brought up again by fresh comments.
The play is focused upon games and game
design, philosophy of language, philosophy of science and philosophy of
religion, although squirrels and nonsense also occur. The landscape of the
reality the game is set in (Chris Bateman’s mind) is complex and changeable,
but a few things are always the same: he never means to cause offence, he
always believes that diversity is essential, especially diversity of thought
and belief, and he is both pro-science and pro-religion. A large metaphysical
wall has been built between these two regions in the reality, and while players
are free to cross between them, a certain amount of resistance will occur when
Unlike more commonly encountered realities, the reality used in this game is not always a tunnel and the play may flip from one reality to another, apparently at random. At one moment, players may find themselves in a grounded scientific debate with no recourse to metaphysics, in another, they may find themselves in a part of the reality that is dictated by Christian metaphysics (or Sufi, or Hindu, or Discordian, or…) and experiencing what that reality feels like. This causes some turbulence, but adds to the ilinx of the ride.
There is only one rule, which is play friendly. Even this rule is occasionally broken, bent, twisted, nudged slightly, folded, spindled or mutilated, but usually everything runs smoothly. A