Branching story technique #9: Sometimes put players in the role of coach

Branching stories are simple sims where players make a series of decisions to shape and advance a story. I have found ten surprisingly easy and effective "little" techniques to make them much richer. 

Here is the ninth.

Branching stories are often and most effectively first-person.  They are from the player's perspective.  But this does not mean that the player must always take on the character facing the high consequence situation.  One nice optional technique is to put the player in the role of the coach, or other adviser.

Structurally, this means that a friend comes to you with a problem.  For example, a friend may say, "Can I take you out to lunch?  I need your advice."  Then, when eating out, the friend can explain the problem and solicit advice.

This is especially useful if the program involves multiple short scenarios to add variety.

As with any branching story, keep the interactions with the player constant and in some way impactful.

I try to avoid any kind of formal relationship (i.e. boss, HR department, actual coach, teacher, superior officer) in these coach roles, unless that is the explicit purpose of the scenario.  I like to create an assumed high trust relationship (such as a friend whom you haven't seen in years, or a formal employee, or a former mentor, or the grown child of a best friend).  Obviously, making the person in need asking you for advise should be in some way sympathetic.

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