That’s not the beginning of a joke, it’s the premise of today’s post by first time guest writer Ani Sinani, who participated in an Ad-Hoc Model UN committee this spring and was struck by its similarities to table-top and role-playing games.
Earlier this year, I participated in a Model United Nations (MUN) conference in Chicago. For those of you who don’t know, MUN is a competition in which students assume roles as the ambassadors of world nations and simulate UN committees. The same structure is used for non-traditional committees, where students usually assume the roles of high officials to simulate business committees, wars, presidential elections, and so on. So yes, you can definitely say that MUN is glorified role-playing. In Chicago, I participated in the Ad-Hoc committee, which is usually composed of the top student delegates in the country. The topic of the committee was not disclosed prior to the conference and no one knew what character they would be representing.
The director of the committee updated the conference website with ambiguous excerpt blurbs as the conference approached. From that information, I gathered that the committee would focus on crime, insecurity, and corruption in Gotham City. When I arrived at the conference, I found out that I was right. I was representing a top level official of a toy making company in the mayor of Gotham City’s so-called “kitchen cabinet,” which was made up of mobsters, elected officials, and corporate representatives. The committee setting was in the present day, and mayor Anthony Garcia was being investigated by the Department of Justice for his alleged involvement with the city’s crime scene. (It’s important to note that in this time-line, Bruce Wayne is still a young teenage boy living happily with his parents.)
The goal of the committee was simple: to keep the corrupt mayor in power and convince the national government and the citizens of Gotham that everything was all right. My personal goal was to attain the most power, whether that meant rising to the head of the committee, or turning them all in to law enforcement, or a little of both.
The committee picked up pace with fierce debate as everyone was trying to balance their involvement in the criminal world while keeping a façade for the Gotham community and US government. Crisis updates quickly emerged and by the end of the first committee session, Thomas and Martha Wayne were found dead in a Bludhaven neighborhood.
For the next two committee sessions, debate concentrated on the future of Wayne Enterprises and its involvement with Gotham City. As the committee neglected the well being of Bruce Wayne, we quickly found out that he was kidnapped through another crisis update. We secured the future of Wayne Enterprises by picking a new CEO for the company and buying stocks to keep the corporation running. Then, we turned our focus on Bruce Wayne. We entered a riddle game with his kidnapper, a woman named Josephine Kerr, who demanded a large dollar amount. We used our resources to locate the boy and safely return him to his home. In turn, Josephine Kerr ended up committing suicide.
Then, things started to go downhill for Gotham. Prison riots and mobsters escalated violence and brought to light the corrupt networks of the city offices. The committee could not contain the violence and we ended up splitting in two factions: those who supported the mayor and those who did not. I stayed with those who supported the mayor since it benefited me more to stay involved in the crime scene as a corrupt businessman.
The government was alarmed by the upheaval in Gotham and ordered the National Guard to be stationed outside the city. The mayor begged the president to refrain from using the Guard and the president gave the mayor forty eight hours to restore order in Gotham. Then, the two factions entered a war game. Each side had five minutes to make three war moves. Once each side made their moves, the war would play itself out and the results would be revealed through crisis updates. Each war cycle represented a couple of hours and by the end of forty eight hours, Gotham was in complete shambles, but the supporters of the mayor ended up winning the war. However, the victory did not last for too long. The National Guard eventually intervened and charged the mayor and his entire kitchen cabinet with embezzlement.
That pretty much sums up the entire three-day weekend. Yes, the excessive role playing can get out of hand (sometimes), but the experience and people I met along the way made it all worth it.
– by Ani Sinani