There are a lot of Dada appropriation pieces that involve appropriating a work and then making it completely non-functional. That was where I started for my game. I was largely inspired by pieeces like Der wildgewordene Spiesserr Heartfield by Grosz and Heartfield and the work of Marcel duChamp.
I knew at the outset that I wanted to use sewing tools, considering that I have a box full of them in my dorm and they can be far more versatile than we usually give them credit for. The core experience that I initially thought of for the game was the idea of players sabotaging each other’s efforts to create something.
The first iteration of my game involved a set of fabric scissors, a box of pins, a box of chalk, a square of fabric, and a set of cards with nouns on them. To start, each of the two players drew a card, and then took turns manipulating the fabric to try and make it look like the noun on their card. They could either make one cut with the scissors, make a marking with the chalk, or use three pins to manipulate the shape of the fabric. The players drew the cards “cane” and “banana,” and both were able to create their objects. However, the unforeseen problem with including the scissors was that the fabric ended up being cut in half so that the players were not interacting with each other.
There are several changes that I made for the second iteration. First of all, I used a t-shirt instead of a square of fabric (this was always part of the plan, but didn’t happen for the first playtest because of time constraints). Second, I removed the scissors and replaced them with pieces of thread. I initially included them because I thought it would make it a little less infuriating to have a way to shape the fabric beyond pinning it, but by making it possible to cut the fabric, I also made it possible for players to create separate pieces to work on and for them to simply cut silhouettes out of the fabric. Initially I was going to make a third change of changing the number of pins available to the players on each turn, but I ultimately decided against it.
There are a few things that I would have liked to have had more time to play around with with this project. Namely, I wish that there were some way to keep the scissors as an implement without losing the core experience that I was aiming for. One of the hallmarks of the Dada movement is taking something functional and making it nonfunctional. Without the scissors, the piece of clothing/fabric is only temporarily nonfunctional, because none of the other tools permanently alter it (the chalk rubs off, pins can be removed, thread can be untied or cut off). If I had more time and resources, I think I would try to add in a serger and limit the amount of time that the pedal can be pressed per turn, which would allow players to permanently alter and cut the fabric without the risk of it being cut in half.