Mother May I (part I)

Hey, all, 🙂

Who remembers this game?

Mother May I?

Six or more children play, in a space with a wall of some sort (which can be replaced by a line on the ground).

All but one of the children place themselves along a second line on the ground, facing the wall / the first line, at a distance of about ten metters (or yards, for the metrically indisposed). The other child plays the Mother. The Mother stands with her back to the wall (or behind the first line), facing the other children.

One at a time, each of the children addresses the Mother and asks:
 – Mother, may I?

The Mother answers:
 – Yes, you may.

The child subsequently asks:
 – How many steps?

The Mother must answer with a number of steps and a walking mode. For instance:
 – Five baby steps.

The child must now take five “baby” steps forward. If the steps are “baby”-like enough, it’s good. If not, the child must go back from whence (s)he started.

After this little interchange is concluded, it is the next child’s turn to address the Mother.

The winner is the first child to reach the wall / the first line. When this happens, the Mother and everyone except the winner goes back to that second line. The winner now plays the Mother. Rinse. Repeat.

Young children play this game day in and day out at daycare centers around the country, in Portugal, where it is widely known as Mamã dá licença.

Here’s the thing. I’m going to leave this up for a couple of days, then I’m gonna come back to it. In the meantime, your job, if you choose to accept it, is to consider the similarities between this game and traditional RPG gaming, with a GM and GM fiat. Post here, post in your favorite forums, post wherever the hell you want, or don’t post at all, if you just feel like thinking about it. (Though if you do post elesewhere, be kind enough to leave a link here.)

To be continued. 🙂


6 Responses to “Mother May I (part I)”

  1. Elora says:

    Mamã dá licença! Pois tirando a cena dos passos de bebé quando se começa, não estou nada a ver semelhanças com RPG. Ou pelo menos, detesto quando os Gm fazem a festa, atiram os foguetes e apanham as canas.

  2. Ralek says:

    Acho que falhaste o ponto do Joao. Maior parte do roleplay que eu joguei até à data, tirando o ultimo ano é na sua grande maioria um grande jogo de mamã dá licença em que os jogadores vão pedindo licença ao GM para intervir na historia, e o GM, porque sim, decide quanto é que as suas acções avançam/contribuem para essa mesma história.

    Pessoalmente achei a analogia brilhante.

  3. jmariano says:

    Analogia interessante.

    Quantos mais passos o Gm permite aos jogadores mais estes intervêm e mais próximos estão dele e da sua função. De qualquer maneira quanto mais perto estão mais perto este está de perder o seu lugar e ir para a fila.

  4. joao-mendes says:

    Hi, 🙂

    For the non-portuguese speaking:

    Elora says she didn’t see the analogy, except insofar as the trivial notion that beginners take baby steps into gaming. She does mention that she hates it when GMs play by themselves, which makes me think that she does see the analogy after all.

    Ralek correctly reinterprets the analogy for her, and thinks it’s brilliant, which is cool, cuz I thought so too. 🙂

    JMariano takes the analogy too far, although along an unexpected axis, saying that GMs who allow the players to take many large steps are thus bringing the players in closer to their role. It isn’t where I was going, but it’s certainly very interesting and cool, and I’ll have to think more about it.


  5. J.A. Dettman says:


    I recently discovered this discussion through John Kim’s Livejournal and have been responding on my own blog at:

    Although, I must say, that I think Eddie’s comment on Mother May I Part 2 summarizes my thoughts better. 🙂

  6. joao-mendes says:

    Hey, 🙂

    S’cool! 🙂 I’ll be joining you there as well, then. 🙂