Welcome to beautiful downtown San Francisco!
Did you see that amazing cable car?
You’re looking gorgeous tonight!
You’re too kind.
I should know, of course, since teammate Elan Lee and I are the Cruel 2 B Kind World Champions. We achieved this renown by carefully plotting our strategy weeks in advance: we monitored traffic patterns in the play area from a helicopter, had minions who quietly attached GPS tracking devices to ARGFest participants so we could locate them easily during the Friday night game, and brought in an industrial psych firm to do detailed profiles on our competitors so we’d be able to out-think them.
There’s a vicious rumor going around that we ended up partners by accident, hadn’t read the instructions in advance, and won only through sheer dumb luck, but I will of course categorically deny the truth of said rumor. And you should believe me. After all, I’m the world champion in a game of sneaky assassination, so you know you can trust me.
Cruel 2 B Kind is a game of “benevolent assassination” in which you slay other players with compliments and other kind phrases. You don’t know who else may be playing, so you have to be kind to random strangers as well, often with entertaining results. The three phrases listed above were our weapons, which we deployed against other teams in a sort of verbal rock-paper-scissors encounter to determine who was victorious and who was dead of an overdose of kindness. At ARGfest, we played the “Booty Variant” in which each player carried a piece of booty to award to the assassin who killed them most impressively. The booty ranged from the bizarre (a length of rubber tubing) to the edible (cookies and gourmet chocolate) to the truly entertaining (the “It’s Just A Flesh Wound” shirt Elan acquired from one of our first victims). Each time you kill another player, they are absorbed into your team.
So it was that we found ourselves in the midst of a gigantic mass of fellow players, roaming the Market Street area shouting “Welcome to beautiful downtown San Francisco!” in unison. This had a predictably terrifying effect on innocent bystanders. Other teams developed clever strategies to survive the effects of our complimentary prowess, such as standing against a building pretending to be waiting in line to get in, but even they eventually succumbed when we broke into a chorus of Amazing Grace (hey, it had the word “amazing” in it…).
A few unique ARGfest elements added spice to this permutation of C2BK : using weapons effectively on game designer Jane McGonigal didn’t kill her, but it did net you a booty shield card which bought you thirty seconds of immunity to death. Serenade Jane’s twin sister with a song from the 80s and you might acquire another advantage. Compliment the fashion sense of a man who appeared to be innocently reading a book and you’d gain some of its pages, which counted for double booty points.
The game wrapped up at 7:00 pm, after which we assembled to declare the winners and receive our limited edition C2BK dolls. There were prizes for most booty collected, consolation prizes for the first team killed, prizes for the top ten teams after the 1st Place winners. Upon discovering that the crowd of perhaps 120-150 people contained a significant number of out-of-state participants, Jane declared it the national championships. However, it soon became clear that players hailed from not only distant states, but other continents, and that title was quickly expanded to world championships.
All in all it was a perfect way to kick off ARGFest: it involved teamwork, coordinating increasingly large groups of people, and doing bizarre things in public. Even if you missed ARGFest, you’re not necessarily out of luck — check the Cruel 2 B Kind website for a game near you!
Thanks to Clayfoot for the photos!