Observation Journal: the deal with Dixit

I’m keeping the observation journal posts happening in between all the Flyaway news!

This page, as well as featuring a remarkably brief allusion to some of the stranger things I glimpsed in a drive around the back streets of my suburb, and no review whatsoever of British Prints from the Machine Age except that it inexplicably vanished an entire morning, also contains a quick note of flagrant misuse of Dixit cards.

Double page of observation journal, densely handwritten. On the left, 5 things seen, heard, and done that day. On the right, handwritten notes on the benefits of co-inventing stories with the aid of Dixit cards.

I am not a great player of board/card/tabletop games, although I love their design — and their art. I have a collection of cards which always feel like they are trying to turn into stories — Once Upon a Time, Machine of Death, Illimat, The Family Arcana, assorted myrioramas, and others, and a few home-made on the fly — and, of course, several Dixit expansion packs. My especial favourites are Daydreams (art by Franck Dion) and Revelations (art by Marina Coudray).

I do however like freely-evolving narrative games/conversations (and yes, it turns out I adore The Quiet Year, thanks to Helen Marshall and Malcolm Devlin for introducing me to it). And on this day of the observation journal, a sorting-through of cards with my housemate turned into a fairly fast, turn-based game of:

  • drawing a random card (from Dixit, or any deck/assortment of appealing pictures)
  • thinking of the fairy tale/folk tale/myth that most obviously matches it (the less obvious the picture itself, the more fun)
  • extrapolating the altered version of that story template from the clues in the art (with input from the other)

No scoring except excitement, no rules except stories.

Handwritten notes on the benefits of co-inventing stories with the aid of Dixit cards.
I think “young loch ness monsters prank scientist” began as a Little Red Riding Hood idea but who knows at this point.

This game was just competitive enough (because it starts to gain pace) to add impetus, but not so competitive as to remove the focus from enjoying stories, or to stop us from adding and strengthening each others’ ideas.

And because we did it verbally, there was a freedom to it, diverting smoothly around forgotten words or points of resistance.

There was also, nebulous but distinct, an insistent push to fill out the emerging story-shape — an urge I’ve touched on before (Narrative Theory #1) and have continued to pursue through the observation journal (more on that in the fulness of time).

This sort of thing doesn’t always turn into a picture or story, but it is fun, and a very pleasing way to spend time with people who like similar stories, and to stay in the habit of breaking apart and connecting the pieces of tales, and to shuffle through your own memories and associations. And occasionally an image or connection or feeling will be strong enough to kickstart me back into making things after a break (or even to become the seed of a story).

Pen sketch of a crow through venetian blinds
Crow through venetian blinds

Shout-out, by the way, to CSE Cooney and Carlos Hernandez who are doing intriguing narrative things with their Negocios Infernales cards.

4 thoughts on “Observation Journal: the deal with Dixit

  1. Pingback: August post round-up | Kathleen Jennings

  2. Pingback: Observation journal: improbable inventions | Kathleen Jennings

  3. Pingback: Sketch before story | Kathleen Jennings

  4. Pingback: Observation Journal — Getting meta with story shapes | Kathleen Jennings

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