I’m sure you couldn’t tell based on what you’re reading right now, but I’m a huge fan of stories. It’s great to be on either end: experiencing or telling.

I loved immersing myself in the atmosphere of the stack when I was an undergraduate. On ditch day as a junior, I signed up to be the friendly Bob-omb from the Mario video game.  Although there was no requirement to act like our roles, it made it much more fun to spend the day making my face red like I was about to explode and once putting my (helmeted) head through a sheetrock wall we needed to get past. I figured, what’s a sentient bomb for if not destroy in-the-way-walls?

One way that stacks can be immersive is by having different roles on the sign up sheets. Each stackee signs up to be a different character – on the Mario stack there was Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, etc. The fun mystery is that as a stackee, you have no idea whether character choice will be irrelevant, extremely relevant (different characters getting completely different tasks), or somewhere in between. In the Mario stack, the only real difference was that each character got unique headgear.

Oren and I opted against the character-assignment route to storytelling. Instead we aimed to characterize the group as a whole, and allow the stackees to fill in individual roles with their own personalities and imagination. In retrospect, I think this strategy would have been successful if the stack was composed of Ben-clones. In reality, the absence of restrictions imposed by sign-up-roles also removed the creativity that so often comes from small restrictions.

That oversight aside, I’m proud of the intricate plot we came up with for our stack: Lord of the Rings: The Other Fellowship.