Online Chatroom Intervention – Unaware Game Participation – HvZ/Tag

by | Nov 9, 2016 | Artwork #3: Intervene, Projects

As I explained in class, I am a huge fan of both casual and competitive games, but competitive games can become boring very quickly because they lose some of the important aspects of casual games, namely player interaction and playing for fun. Being a proponent of having fun with games, I wanted to go to an online chat room full of competitive players and see how I could get them to have fun in a different way than being competitive.

A big inspiration that I had was the video we watched in class, The Institute. There were very many parts of this video that involved combining real life and the game world, for example dancing while you were on the phone, and using real world locations to tell a story. I wanted people to see my piece and have fun watching it, and even be motivated to join in.

The players didn’t even know what they were getting into, either. This counts for unaware game participation, they saw flyers in the streets, and did not know they were being pulled into a game when they took a slip and began their journey to the institute. I really liked the way they did this, how people were willing to follow along with this game just because they wanted to. I wanted to replicate this behavior in my piece. I feel peoples’ attitudes towards something would more dramatically shift if they decided to participate on a whim, so this is why I favored unaware game participation.

I also wanted my piece to deliver an important message, much like The Institute did. The Institute wanted people to take life less seriously, to play in the world, and to be in a perpetual state of ‘Divine Nonchalance’.  I proposed a different message, but one along the same lines: sometimes, competitiveness takes the fun out of games and I wanted to break up the competitiveness in the room with some lighthearted games.

I decided to choose a Pokemon Showdown server, which is a site where you can have competitive Pokemon battles. I was a member of certain server ‘leagues’ beforehand, which tend to focus on competitiveness, improving battling skills, and defeating other leagues on the server for dominance. I quit because I didn’t have time to participate, plus I wasn’t getting much out of the competitive side because it was getting boring. I decided to try to spice things up by playing a chatroom game that wasn’t entirely related to competitive Pokemon battling to see how the players would react.

I decided to have a Humans vs Zombies game in the chatroom. Certain ‘Zombies’, denoted by their nametag, would challenge users to CC1v1 battles (the quickest and most random Pokemon battling format out there). If the Zombie won, the loser would have to change his/her name tag to a Zombie tag, and challenge others to convert them as well. This provides a totally different context for the competitive players to relate to.

I do have online friends on this server, but not too many, because a lot of them quit as well. I did manage to get at least 2 or 3 people to agree to the ‘Humans Vs Zombies’ game idea, though. Due to this fact, and that I wanted this to mainly be an unaware game that people jumped in, I did not feel I needed more people. The plan was to have the players see what was happening, and then they’d join in and agree to the game once a couple people were playing the game.

Once I started, I realized this project was doomed to fail. I only had one other zombie, and the others who were going to play were online but not responsive. I believe that this is a result of multiple facets, one being the fact that this Humans vs Zombies game requires a lot of effort to participate, especially in an unaware crowd. Also, people did not see the point behind the activity, so they did not join. They just thought I was another troll and ignored me. After all, my name was ‘ZOMBIE ON FIRE’ and they had no connection to me whatsoever. Pictures are below:

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So, I decided to go with a different approach: a simpler and more personal game. I changed my name back to what it normally was (Kant Ketchum), so people knew I wasn’t a troll. I still wanted the unaware game participation, also, so I needed to think of a really easy to play and fun game. I decided on a game of tag – all you had to do, was tag someone else when you got tagged. Typing in someone else’s name gives them a notification, so they will know when they got tagged and they’ll definitely consider whether to participate or not. This is very simple, fun, and it creates a game within the server. Some pictures are below:





This game of tag worked a lot better than the Humans Vs Zombies game. People were willing to continue, and it seems they had fun with it. I really liked the inclusion of emoticons while playing the game – it really gave the game a more personal feel to it. The competitive language used (“loses to ferrothorn”, “toxic doesnt touch poison”, “when is alliance cup”) really contrasts with the tag game, and I loved that about the piece. There can be long conversations about competitive topics, and breaking that up with some fun conversation is something I appreciated.

Although the impact my game had was minimal, I feel that I did add some fun to the lives of these competitive players, no matter how competitively they played this game. Overall, there could be improvements, but this was a fun piece to work on.