This is the sixty-fifth entry in the Scratching That Itch series, wherein I randomly select and write about one of the 1741 games and game-related things included in the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. The Bundle raised $8,149,829.66 split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Community Bail Fund, but don’t worry if you missed it. There are plenty of ways you can help support the vital cause of racial justice; try here for a start. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

For our next pick from the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality, the random number generators have grabbed Propagating Love, by Morgan Swampcroft. Its tagline in the bundle reads:

A short solo tabletop game experience, to help bring more love into the wor…

Ooh, ooh, a solo game! That means I can actually play it!

Propagating Love is the first tabletop game that’s come up in Scratching That Itch so far that’s playable with just one person. It was an entry in the Matchmaker Cleric Jam, hosted by Robohaven, which ran from Feb 5th to March 7th, 2020. Morgan says they made Propagating Love in about an hour, and it is indeed a short and simple thing. But a surprisingly touching one.

It offers an almost meditative experience. Players begin by picturing a person or thing that they love in their mind, focusing on this and the feeling of love it inspires. Play then proceeds through ruminations on this person or thing. By drawing abstract shapes one at a time (either on paper or through drawing software), players will slowly construct an image of a flower, with each piece of the flower associated with something specific about the object of love. After drawing one of the shapes, players may be asked to list several positive things they associate with the person or thing that they love. Or perhaps they will write down something about themselves that they associate with the object of their love, or a specific associated memory. By the end, players will have both the picture of the flower they made, and several lists of positive thoughts, memories or suggestions jotted down as they went. At first, the drawing aspect made me wary, since I don’t consider myself a very accomplished visual artist, but my worries were soon put to rest by the example drawing given in the book, which is as simple as can be:

This made me realize that the point is not so much the drawing itself, but the fact that each piece of the drawing is actively associated with thoughts about the person or thing that the player loves. Through this structure, both the picture and the thoughts are enriched. I like that the drawings precede the thoughts, rather than the other way around. As I played, I never felt I needed to interpret any deep meaning with my doodles, but instead drew whatever came to mind and then imprinted meaning onto it as I thought of specific things related to my love. Propagating Love is not the type of experience that I would normally be inclined towards, but I found that it brought a big smile to my face and noticeably improved my mood. Here’s the flower I had drawn by the end:

Looking at it still brings a smile to my face. It’s far more effective at recalling the feeling I had while playing than I thought it would be. Not bad for a short experience that’s easily played through in fifteen minutes. I recommend taking a look, even if this doesn’t sound like the kind of thing you would usually play. I’m really glad I tried it. If you missed it in the bundle, Propagating Love is available for any price you wish to pay (including free).

That’s 65 down, and only 1676 to go!