I am now officially tired of the "why can't we have games that do ______?" conversation. Like, you know "games can't do conversations, games can't do tragedy, games can't do X, Y, and Z", so we're stuck with nothing but Gears of War until the end of time.
The basic problem with this idea is, of course, the insistence that a "game" is a 3D high-poly-count app created for tens of millions of dollars by wageslaves in an EA/Activision/Ubisoft sweatshop.
A Bitter Aftertaste is a jeepform roleplaying game for four players that premiered at Ropecon, the Finnish national roleplaying games convention, in 2007. It is about two lovers who have just had the best sex of their lives, sitting on a balcony overlooking their city, and talking. Something games supposedly can't do, to be sure.
Why does a game about two people talking require four players? Because, of course, the game is a jeepform, and uses several of the techniques common to this game style: inner monologues, "insides & outsides," and imaginary scenes.
Harviainen imposes a narrative arc: by the end of the game, the insecurities of both members of the couple will lead to the loss of their love. Many narrativist "indie" RPGs also impose a narrative arc, but unlike those games, jeepforms have no die-rolls or other external mechanics for either action or scene resolution. They are pure roleplaying -- with a set of rules that allow players to seize and usurp the nature of the roleplaying, complicating the situation. Jeepforms have rules and mechanics, but they are rules and mechanics that control who roleplays what, and when and how. They are, in many ways, closer to "acting games" than traditional tabletop RPGs -- and yet, derive ultimately from the tabletop roleplaying tradition.
At game start, the lovers are chatting on their balcony. Two players represent them, and roleplay freely. At any moment, any of the players -- the lovers, or other two -- may interrupt, and act out an imaginary scene: A scene depicting what is going through the head of one of the lovers. For the purposes of this scene, any of the players may be chosen to represent either the lovers or other characters. As an example, let us say that one of the lovers is Robert, and the other is Sara (A Bitter Aftertaste is gender-neutral, and the game provides for both same sex and heterosexual couples). Something Robert said may have suddenly triggered, for Sara, the fantasy that he might betray her by having an affair with a co-worker. The player theoretically playing Sara on the balcony may not be aware of this fact, until another player seizes the action and grabs other players to act out the scene, one of the players (not necessarily the "balcony Robert") representing Robert, and another the coworker.
One rule of the game is that all such scenes must create doubt. None are permitted to end in happy resolution. And any return to the scenario in a later scene must escalate -- a greater fear, a greater consequence. During such a scene, the "dreamer" -- the person proposing that this scenario is running through one of the lover's head -- may request a monolog. S/he speaks this, facing away from the other players; the other characters do not hear it, but the players do.
Another rule is that imaginary scenes may not establish facts -- only doubts. And a third is that the game must end in a break up.
Like other jeepforms, A Bitter Aftertaste blurs the boundaries between theatrical improv and tabletop roleplaying; indeed, you could see it being performed before a theater audience, and perhaps one day games of this type shall be.