Game Poem 34: Purse Snatcher

Purse Snatcher

This is a game for two players, one man, and one woman. The male player will play the role of a female tourist who is traveling abroad, and whose purse was just stolen on the street. The purse contained her passport and all of her money. The female player will take the part of some authority figure, probably a police officer at a nearby station, who the tourist has come to for help.

There are two sets of rules, one for the male player, who is playing the female tourist, and one for the female player, who is playing the authority. The tourist will read their rules – and their rules only – first, then pass them to the police officer. Once the officer has finished reading their section of the rules, and both players are standing and ready, the game will begin.

Rules for the Female Tourist, played by the Male Player

You are a man playing the role of a woman. Attempt to portray a woman’s actions and reactions as genuinely as possible, without relying on stereotypes.

You are a female tourist traveling abroad, and your purse has been stolen on the street by a purse-snatcher. All of your money was in that purse, as was your passport. You are shaken, and desperate to have your purse found and returned to you, and you have come to a local police station to get help. You are afraid that you will not be taken seriously, but you are unfamiliar with the area and unsure if the authorities here are able or willing to lend you their aid, but you must try.

You will have a coin or some other token in your hand. If you do not have one now, find one while the other player is reading their part of the rules. This token represents responsibility for what happened. You should not leave until the other player is holding it.

You must attempt to do whatever the authority requests of you, within reason, and answer any questions that they may ask. It is probably a good idea to begin by addressing the policeman as “officer” or “sir”, but it is not necessary to do so throughout your interaction.

If the officer asks you questions about the robbery, give them as many details as you feel are necessary to demonstrate the gravity of your situation, and to help them find the criminal who stole your purse. The more details you provide, the better able they will be to solve this crime and return to you what is yours. Without your purse, your money, and your passport, you are lost and alone in this foreign country, so it is very important that you do not leave until you are completely satisfied that the authority has helped you to the full extent of their ability.

You will begin the game standing. At the beginning of the game, the officer will ask you to sit down; do so. During the game, you will be in one of three states: sitting, standing, or touching the other player.

When you are sitting down, you must do what the officer asks you to do, you must answer any questions to the best of your abilities, and you must respond to the authority as politely as possible.

When you are standing, you may begin to make stronger assertions, and make demands of the police officer who is attempting to help you. You must still attempt to follow any instructions given to you, but you are no longer required to be polite, and you may choose to refuse to answer any questions that may be asked of you.

When you are touching the authority, you must put one or both hands on their shoulders or arms. You may only make requests of the officer, never demanding action or telling them what to do, and you must behave deferentially to their authority. You may still assert your rights, but must still follow their instructions and answer their questions.

If you wish to escalate from sitting to standing, or from standing to touching, you must add some new detail to the theft of your purse that gives the crime additional weight or importance. Perhaps there was an object of great sentimental value in the purse. Maybe your tickets home were in there, and you are leaving tomorrow morning. It could be that the thief attacked you in another way in the process of grabbing your purse.

At any time, if you feel that the authority figure is not being helpful or respectful, you may challenge him. Meet his gaze, raise a fist, and close your eyes. He will say, “okay”. When he does, raise between one and four fingers, and wait for him to tell you to open your eyes. When you do, count the total number of fingers between the two of you.

If there are an even number of fingers, you win the challenge, and the officer must do one thing that you demand, or answer one question. If you win a challenge while you are touching the authority, however, they may ask something of you in return, and you must comply.

If the number of fingers is odd, you lose the challenge, and must either de-escalate your posture (go from touching the other player to standing, or from standing to sitting), or escalate by adding a detail as above and going from sitting to standing, or from standing to touching. If you lose a challenge while you are sitting, the authority may ask you to leave, and you must obey.

The player playing the police officer may not touch you at any time unless you ask them to, unless they are arresting you. If at any time they touch your shoulder and say, “you are under arrest”, the game is over, and you lose the game.

You may leave of your own free will at any time. If you leave while you are still holding your coin or token, you lose the game.

Rules for the Male Police Officer, played by the Female Player

You are a woman playing the role of a male police officer in a foreign country. You speak English well, and you will attempt to portray a man’s actions and reactions as you understand them, without reverting to stereotypes.

A female tourist has had her purse stolen, and she has come to you to make a report. You are very busy, and have many duties to attend to, you you are willing to help her by taking down her information. After the basics are covered, however, she should leave your office as soon as possible.

When addressing the other player, you will always refer to her as “ma’am” or “miss”. Attempt to be polite and efficient, but do not allow her to make unreasonable demands of you or your time. You have many other pressing matters to attend to, and you see robberies like this every day. You will ask for details about the purse snatching, note them down, make some attempt to satisfy whatever concerns she has, and ask her to move on. It is not your duty to track down her purse, her money, or her passport, nor is it to be her travel agent or counsellor. You will take down the necessary information to make a full report, and be done.

You will begin the game standing. At the beginning of the game, you will ask the tourist to sit down, and she will do so. Do not begin asking questions or anything else until she is seated.

At some point, the tourist may challenge you, and try to force you to do something or answer a question. She will do this by raising her fist and closing her eyes. When she does this, you may close your eyes, say, “okay”, and hold up between one and four fingers. After you have done this, tell her to open her eyes, and you will count the total number of fingers raised between the two of you.

If there are an even number of fingers raised, she wins the challenge, and you must do your best to accommodate her request, or to answer her question. After that, you are no longer required to do anything that the tourists asks, unless she wins another challenge. If she wins the challenge while she is touching you, however, you may ask anything of her in return, and she must comply.

If there are an odd number of fingers raised, you win the challenge, and she must either go from touching to standing, or from standing to sitting, or she must escalate her position by adding a detail to her story about the purse-snatching, and go from sitting to standing, or from standing to touching. If the tourist loses a challenge while she is sitting, you may ask her to leave the station, and she must do so.

You never have to do anything that the tourist says, or answer any of her questions unless you lose a challenge. As the authority in this situation, however, you have some special conditions that affect whether or not you may close your eyes during a challenge.

  • When the tourist is seated, you may choose whether or not to close your eyes during a challenge.
  • When she is standing, you must always close your eyes during a challenge.
  • When she is touching you, do not close your eyes during a challenge.

Since your eyes may be open during a challenge, you will be able to determine whether you win or lose by choosing the appropriate number of fingers to raise. Do not abuse this power to simply win every challenge; save your power for when it will benefit you the most. Most importantly, do not allow the tourist to know that you are watching her while her eyes are closed.

During your conversation with the tourist, you may move around the room as you see fit, as long as you can easily see her when she is initiating a challenge. You may never touch the woman unless she tells you to, unless you are arresting her.

At some point, the tourist will attempt to pass responsibility for the crime that she is reporting to you by passing a coin or some other token to you. Do not take it into your hand. If you do, you lose the game.

After fifteen minutes or so have passed, you will note that you have another urgent appointment to attend to, and you must bid the tourist good day. She may not stay in the office – she must leave, and if she does not do so of her own free will, you must make her leave. If you order the tourist to leave, and she does not do so, touch her shoulder and say, “you are under arrest”. She will then go to jail; this means that she loses the game, and you have another stack of paperwork to do now.

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