This is the one hundred fifty-second 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.

Our one hundred fifty-second random selection from the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality is blushing awkwardly. It’s Spring On Me, by Swords and Flowers, and its tagline in the bundle reads:

Go on awkward dates as messy individuals in love or more.

Messy Individuals In Love should probably be the name of a band.

Spring On Me is an improvisational storytelling game in which players create characters and then act out scenes and dates with them. There’s little in the way of mechanical rules, just a set of prompts and a set of complications which will help define a scene. Then players dive right in, typically acting out a scene between a pair of characters but involving other characters too if deemed appropriate. The game encourages players to act out dates or date-adjacent encounters, and for these to veer towards messy and awkward. The aim is to revel in these moments when nothing quite goes the way people want them to, when awkwardness or misunderstandings mask the feelings two people have for each other. After each scene, players pick how it ended, and none of the options are really “good” per se. Characters are meant to feel all of the uncertainty and anguish of a blossoming love.

Each pair of characters will act out one scene for each prompt and complication, crossing them off as they go. When they’re all crossed off, Spring ends and the pair may go on their final date (final dates are not required). I love the rules for this: players must take a coin and spin it on the table. They have until the coin stops spinning to say everything they wanted to say to their partner, before the date is over and they won’t see each other again until summer. Better get it all out now.

As usual, I’m too lazy to actually organize a group of people to play Spring On Me, but it seems like it could be fun for those who enjoy the rollercoaster of emotions and anxieties that go with romance and dates. That, of course, is certainly not everyone; I myself am not sure how well I’d get along with this game. I guess I’d be pretty good at the awkwardness? Although maybe not in a good way. A play group will need to be comfortable with improvisational storytelling, because the prompts provided are pretty barebones, so those who need a bit more guidance may struggle to come up with interesting scenes. There are only a few brief pages of rules, so a lot will depend on the group in terms of running an enjoyable game. How exactly the game works with larger groups of players is left open. Presumably they pair off and get to watch each other’s awkward dates, but love triangles or other tangles between multiple characters are certainly possible. Whatever the group wants to do.

Lest this veer into uncomfortable territory, Spring On Me heavily emphasizes consent between players and letting anyone stop scenes and change their direction as needed. It is still up to players to actively insist on this, however. The X-Card is not explicitly called upon in the rules, but groups could easily incorporate it as a way to make this a bit easier for anyone who is feeling uncomfortable.

Does acting out awkward dates with some friends sound like a good time to you? Then give Spring On Me a look. If you missed it in the bundle, it’s sold for a minimum price of $5, but also offered for free to anyone who identifies as queer (or who simply cannot afford the price tag).

That’s 152 down, and only 1589 to go!