óóó͘¥½®Öæƒþ®Ä›͘ěãWZ/>ϮϬϭϳ ϭϯ turned into a full on video games/Hunger Games crossover. Taking the bar napkins and receipt that held their notes, the duo JRWWRZRUNRQWKH¿ UVWGUDIWRIZKDWZRXOG become The Video Games. In the two years that followed, The Video Games has seen several transformations and stagings. What started as a straight-up parody of the Hunger Games has evolved into a combat-heavy, audience-interactive, multiple-ending play. It performs monthly in Los Angeles, and recently started an Off- Broadway run in New York City. Much of the show’s success can be attributed to the fact that the creators are all-in. “It’s a passion project to us but it’s worth it,” said Pixler, who had to quit his day job when the show started touring. “We always say ‘I would rather have tried to do some- thing than not, and wondered what if?’ So it’s a giant, giant leap of faith.” One of the show’s trademarks is the branch- ing story. Because it is a game, any charac- ter has the potential to win. This means that every performance unfolds differently. And it’s the audience that decides the result. Sometimes that decision is direct, such as raising hands to vote for which char- acter lives and dies in a currently happening battle. Other times, events result from smaller decisions made earlier in the show. At the show’s start, a single audience member is given a one-up mushroom from the Super Mario games. That mushroom doesn’t come into play until a point near the end. Only then is that audience member forced to choose between bringing back a dead favorite and forcing an an- noying announcer to take part in the games. Pixler and Stolworthy have been experimenting with the au- GLHQFHLQÀ XHQFHGELWVVLQFHWKHYHU\¿ UVWVWDJLQJRIWKHVKRZ They recall renting a classroom from their old college to make “a conspiracy theory chart” on the whiteboard. They started slowly, only introducing four possible end scenarios. Then they added more. After that came variations, like what if two characters won? What if they all died? Yes, there is actually an ending where all but one character “is bloody and dead.” Keeping track of so many different endings also makes the show unique on the production side. Actors who are cast in the show are given a script that looks like a choose-your-own-ad- venture novel, with vari- RXVDSSHQGL[HVWRÀ LSWR depending on what hap- pens. They must also be proficient enough in stage combat and improvisation to roll with a show that FKDQJHVRQWKHÀ \ This is managed with a lot of help from Matt Franta and %UDQGRQ3XJPLUHWKHVKRZ¶V¿ JKWGLUHFWRUV7KH\GHYHO oped the choreography together and have stuck around to assist as new casts come in. For Franta, the biggest challenge is keeping the moves con- sistent. “The actors all have a huge amount of choreography to learn in this show,” he wrote. “We have regular brush-up UHKHDUVDOVDQGD¿ JKWFDOOEHIRUHHDFKVKRZVRWKHDFWRUV can go through all of their choreography.”