Month: December 2018

Artwork #4: Final – “Exquisite Frenemy”

My project was designed to try to get players to not always take things at first glance. It was inspired by how we generally one thing and assume something about a person, when that isn’t always the case.


Version #1:
This game went through several iterations. The first was a basic trial where each player drew a card that simply said “friend” or “enemy” and including a defining characteristic that was contrary to the title on the card. The player then had to draw a character of their own creation that included that characteristic, but could still convince viewers that it was either a friend or enemy, as dictated by the card. They would then show all the other players their drawing and those players would have to vote on whether they thought it was a friend or an enemy. For example, a player could draw a card that said “enemy: must be smiling”. The smile could then cause people to think it was a friend, when it’s actually an enemy.

The problem with this version was that it was too black and white, and while they had that one parameter, there were too many other things they could draw to counter it. It was too open.


Version #2:
This version was similar to the first one, except instead of just saying friend or enemy, the card would list a single trait, which either a friend could or couldn’t have that the enemy would have the opposite of. The problem with this was if someone drew a card that simply listed something they could not draw, and again it was too open ended.


Version #3:
The third and final version of this game is a mix of telephone and exquisite corpse. Players sit in a circle, and the first player draws a card that either says friend or enemy, that no one else gets to see. They then draw an attribute from a bag (shown below) and place it on a figure of a person (also shown below). These are all made of magnets, and attach to the person. They then pass the person and the bag to the next player, who tries to decide whether it’s a friend or an enemy, based on the placement of the item, and then proceed to draw another attribute and attach it, depending on whether they thing it’s a friend or an enemy. During this process, no talking is allowed, which 1.) helps aid the mystery of the game and 2.) recreates that atmosphere of silent judgement throughout a group of people. When the person gets to the last player, that player tries to guess whether it’s a friend or an enemy, at which point the first player will reveal the truth.


In earlier tests, I allowed dialogue between players and it was interesting to hear their thought processes about sizing up a person and which factors stood out to them more so than others. A lot of it pointed to their face or things they were holding, which leads me to believe that those are the first traits we notice about a person. However, what their face looked like always had an internal story others might have always known, and what they were holding could greatly vary depending on the circumstance. I think this game succeeded at least in pointing out the nuances of first impressions, and caused me to think a little bit more about just how we examine and understand others.

LIFE: Asian-American Version

LIFE: Asian-American Version stems from my personal background growing up as an Asian-American, along with the stereotypes and traits that come along with it. Growing up, playing the board game LIFE was fun, however taking a second look at the game, the inconsistencies of it versus real life were great. LIFE was intended to be casual and aimed to convey rules among the “middle-upper class” (players would start with cars, college would guarantee a larger salary, the goal is to happily get married and buy a house). My version of LIFE:AAV, attempts to recreate a scenario nearly identical to the life I experience first-hand (one has to pay rent, pay for child expenses, and most importantly deal with strict Asian parental expectations).

Unlike the actual game of LIFE, I’ve changed it where the players start off as siblings under the same Asian-American family. It is also a co-op game (represented through the differences between American culture where individualism is key and success is through achieving the most money, against Asian culture where familial bonds are everything and members stick together through thick and thin). The goal of the game is to survive and make it through life together under the same family, while maintaining the familial bonds (or in this case “disownment” otherwise). The players lose when all of those bonds are broken or when they all run out of money.

Some particular differences that LIFE:AAV include:

The only option is going down the college route. Choosing your college major may break parental approval, which then influences whether college will be paid for. Rent exists and housing prices are extraordinarily high. Players can also now date, however with the caveat that dating must be successfully maintained before marriage (the dating candidates I’ve provided are extremely stereotypical under the lens of Asian Americans, which further exemplifies the experience as a whole). Who you end up marrying depends on parental approval. Event cards will contain snippets of the Asian-American lifestyle.

I tried to most accurately capture the differences that Asian-Americans experience, which would differ growing up as any other ethnicity. Through the process of modifying this version of LIFE, I’ve come to learn about the game “Oy Vey!” which is a board game based off of the life of a Jewish mother. The gameplay rules and mechanics also intend the highlight the stereotypes of Jewish culture and themes. It was interesting to learn that a personal project about my own ethnicity would introduce the process of finding other games with similar purposes.

Design Iterations and Testing

Initially, I knew my game was going to surround the theme of growing up Asian-American. I thought the idea of creating an original tabletop RPG was the right way to go, however, I realized that modifying the game of LIFE would serve its purpose better. I was already familiar with a lot of Asian-American themes and ideas, so the only barrier was to convert it onto the board game itself. For every “stop sign” in LIFE, I’ve included my own version of rules that would change the gameplay. I would also create a large number of event card and conflict cards with Asian traits. I’ve also modified the imagery of the board itself. After the play-tests, I ended up modifying some of the rules that were unclear and cleaned up any mistakes I made. 

Reception of the game went well. While observing a playtest, I’ve noted complaints from non-Asian participants about having to “take care of their siblings” and being “disowned from the family”. The idea of cooperation amongst family without particular benefits was amusing to watch, as it is a common thing I’ve personally experienced growing up. The addition of themed gameplay cards also made the experience more immersive.

NEU Confessions

NEU Confessions was designed with an idea centered around the question “how does one feel knowing that the safety of a private event is stripped away for an exchange of a secret of another?” Well the answer to that is compassion. Knowing that someone out there has experienced something so impactful in one’s life that it should better be left hidden leaves a powerful message: vulnerability exists in everyone. Surprisingly, after personally participating in the event, I feel less “alone” knowing that someone else has voluntarily offered a peek into an event that in a public space will fall scrutiny to judgement.

NEU Confessions is designed to be a nonintrusive intervention that relies on the trust between individuals through anonymity. The rules are to write down one confession or secret that one is willing to share in return for an exchange of a secret from another random participant. The ideal location for this activity is in a public space with a lot of university students (individuals who are most likely within the same age range and are more “free-spirited” and willing/comfortable participating in public interventions).

After some research, the intervention has similar bearings with the popular ongoing PostSecret mail art project, created by by Frank Warren wherein participants mailed their secrets anonymously on a homemade postcard, which would then be revealed to the public online and in a book. Warren’s intention was to empower both the participant of the project and the reader, as well as create inspiration or healing for those who write the secrets and give hope to those who identify with the stranger’s secret — in effect, creating ‘an anonymous community of acceptance’. Both his and my interventions also draw from fundamental ideas of the new games movement. Public participation, cooperation, and the emergence of communities are some of the ideas pushed behind the movement, and NEU Confessions attempts to do the same in our Northeastern school environment. I believe many students are naturally drawn to the curiosity of belonging, which is something that is commonplace in social media (in the form of Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, questionnaires and polls on ASKfm, Quora). Media sites such as Buzzfeed provide a list of questions that one answers to determine traits and preferences (ranging from favorite foods, Disney princesses, star signs) aimed to provide amusement like tarot cards. NEU Confessions provides an exchange that differs from the one-way exchange that occurs on the internet, as writing with pen and paper is more personal and intimate.

Design Iterations and Testing

Initially I was intrigued with the idea of random acts of kindness as an attempt for a public intervention. I also preferred non-intrusiveness from the act (more similar to a score rather than performance art in comparison to the Fluxus movement). The combination of the two led to me creating a secret exchange, which transformed into confessions. To set up the activity, I initially wrote a couple secrets of my own and had a few friends write some (to start off the initial exchange) and placed them all in a box, secret folded up on paper. I then sat outside in a busy area on campus and waited to provide students with the opportunity to share their secrets.


The results of the activity were harder to document, as my first initial test made it so I did not participate in the activity for anonymity purposes. However, I did observer amusement from a few individuals who participated. My second playtest was in the classroom, which went much better as the additional fact that the participants “knew” one another (the secret is tied to one out of the ~20 people in the room). From my observations, I heard comments such as “Wow, I got a good secret” and other individuals who wanted to see more. From observation, some of the secrets could range from taboo topics such as crime, sex, and drugs, all of which come from a personal place. I definitely felt as if NEU Confessions created the reaction that I hoped it would, and it would be interesting to see if an iteration where every secret would be revealed for all the eyes (similar to PostSecret) would be a prefered option.

Cards Against the Internet

With Cards Against the Internet, I am trying to recreate a scenario that explores individual humor through a social party card game with an objective reflection of the best and worst that the Internet has to offer. The game rules play out similarly to the actual Cards Against Humanity card game, however with changes to the answer cards (which are now Google Image results) as well as an additional “Bamboozle” mechanic. With the trend of memes of dogs in costumes that “Bamboozle” (or senseless dog pictures with the main purpose of “startling” its viewers), this unpredictability and spontaneity of the Internet is integrated directly within the mechanics of the game. Players can recreate an instance of online media culture, except share their own personal opinions and interpretations in a physical space. The question of what collectively is humor and what things can be accepted in a social setting (without the usual sense of security and anonymity behind a computer screen) is the crux of this game.

The game draws characteristics of Dada art, where one of the underlying motifs is generating questions about society, in this case posing the question of whether the unrestrained freedom of the Internet creates a culture where people are accustomed to instant gratification, randomness, and the profane. A specific example can be drawn from artist and co-founder of the Dada movement, Hugo Ball and his 1916 poem Karawane, one that is made up entirely of sounds (Dada: Zurich, Berlin, Hanover, Cologne, New York, Paris. pg 43). The performance of Karawane was meant to instigate unconventional ideas at the time to its audience, in this case the experimenting with the limits and communication of human language. What is interesting is the fact that Karawane still relies on the fundamental structure of syllables, rhyme, and prose, however changes only the meaninglessness of words through sound. In essence, it is appropriation. With Cards Against the Internet, the rules and questions have not changed drastically based off of the original Cards Against Humanity, however the answer content has shifted towards a representation of random Internet searches. An observed response to my game is the randomness and wide response of choices that is provided due to the nature of Internet pictures. Ideally, it is meant to question our association and reliance to the Internet, our browsing, and how it influences us in a public setting.

AllCards (PDF)

Design Iterations and Testing

Initially, the idea was brought into consideration after playing Cards Against Humanity and observing the rise of Meme Card games. They are both games I enjoy playing, but both lacked an element of “dark humor” due to restrictions as well as the fact that the randomness came from an unnatural place (answer choices that were purposefully made to sound drastic, yet the exaggeration makes it worse). Combining the aspect of a “humorous” party game and appropriating it with the wide honest results of Google Image searches (from history, people, items, events), the list is endless. The Internet drives the humor in the game, and surprisingly people are usually very drawn and open to the idea of Internet humor. I’ve personally given it a second thought and consider the Internet to be a “wild and lawless” place where profanity is left unchecked, and realized its effect on how it has started to normalize the youth of this generation.

I first created a list of potentially funny questions keeping in mind the idea of making them generic enough that both nouns and verbs can potentially be an answer choice. I then created a large list of images that I could use, and went ahead to find pictures of all of them on Google Images, along with as many pictures of dogs in costumes as I could find. I printed the images on a size of half an index card as the standard and attached them to color-coded index cards.


The game rules were easy enough to pick up and play and required little to no explanation for those who have already played a similar game. Overall, the results were mixed to my surprise, but after later consideration I deemed the results to be correct. My first playtest in a private setting garnered a lot of laughs and a general acceptance of the profane humor. However, playtesting it in class, I noticed the general hesitation to the humor when participants were placed in a public setting. I feel as if this game may even have a bigger impact when played in a general setting. Internet browsing history is usually a private matter (along with dark humor), where players obviously tend to reserve themselves in public. I hope that playing this in such a setting will really make a person think twice about the Internet and their behaviors.

Artwork #3: Intervention – IRL Frogger

My piece was inspired by activism and civil disobedience. I also just wanted to make people more aware of those around them.

Basically, my intervention was to play Frogger in real life, by hopping across the streets as fast as possible whenever there was an opening, and doing my best to avoid contact with people. While this encouraged jaywalking, it also called people to pay attention to their surroundings. By making alert and well-timed decisions, as you would in the game Frogger, foot traffic could be largely reduced and become much more efficient.

It was hard actually implementing this, because when I would try to rush my way across frogger style, the light would change and people would all cross via the crosswalk. Basically, it became normal and lost its interventional value. Which was ironic because I almost always have to jaywalk.

Other than that, people seemed to recognize what I was doing, and someone who drove past rolled down their window and yelled “hey frogger!” which was kind of fun.

My roommate, being excited about irl Frogger.

Me, crossing as Frogger.


Artwork 3: Intervention (Transmascreality)

My intervention project was inspired heavily by guerilla street projections featured in the tactical media documentary screened in class. The scale and inherent impermanence/non-criminalizing aspect of the intervention specifically appealed to me. I didn’t feel comfortable or safe involving my body in an intervention so the relative anonymity was also attractive.

Recently I’ve been very focused on bringing attention to the realities of transmasculine discrimination and oppression. I’m very frustrated by the fact that little people seem to understand our experiences or acknowledge our specific oppression. Throwing up a huge projection about those experiences for all to see felt like a good way to channel that frustration.

I wanted to use text that could be easily read and digested, so I took statistics from the 2015 and 2011 Trans Equality Reports, as well as some general truths and imperatives pertaining to transmasculine people. They are as followed:


I planned to laser cut the text and place it on a LED light box to project, so I created the designs in Adobe Illustrator with a laser cut-friendly font. I didn’t realize that the resulting image would not be magnified or projected strongly enough to be seen on a building (or at all, really). After running into that roadblock, I decided to utilize a projector, and edited my designs accordingly. I filled in the text and converted them into a PDF that I could blow up on my screen and click through.

I had trouble finding a room in Northeastern that was open at night and also had a big window that could be fully opened. I ended up testing the intervention in Kariotis. Only the top half of the window in the classroom opened, and it was not feasible to point the projector out of it. The projector could not project the image through window glass, either. I improvised by projecting the text across the room from the window, so it was clearly visible to anyone outside the window.

At home in Mission Hill, I attempted my initial idea. It worked to an extent, but because of the window screen on my window, the image was dimmed considerably.


I didn’t get any candid interaction (that I noticed) with the projections because it was late on finals week/late in Mission Hill.

At one point, while going outside to take photos, I found myself locked out of the building, and while that was really frustrating because all of my things were inside, it made me think about the prospect of having the projection as a running installation this way.

If I was to do the intervention again, I would secure a room for a day (or a night, depending on whether  the projection is sufficiently visible at day), possibly locking it from the inside, and set up the projector and laptop. I would edit the designs into a looping GIF that clicked through each of the designs at a readable pace. I might choose a higher traffic area if I could one with a window with such high visibility from the ground.

I’m very happy with what I’ve made and would love to run it again. I think with the proper circumstances and resources I could do similar in scale to the tactical media projections with my designs!

Artwork 4: Boys Don’t Cry: A Transmasculine Simulator

My final project was a Twine game that simulated the experience of living one day as a transmasculine individual.

Following my last project’s subject on the reality of transmasculine life, I wanted to create a more personal and in depth experience relating to transmasculine life. After recently experiencing discrimination and microaggression at school and work, and experiencing so many non-transmascs making assumptions about what experiences or privileges we allegedly experience, I felt compelled to show what life was truly like for us.

I felt like it adequately fit the assignment and previous readings. I can’t think of a better way to emulate “experience” than to contain a huge part of what informs my life experience for others to experience.

I was originally thinking of this as a visual novels with characters, but I decided to frame it as more as a simulator to keep it personal. I was vaguely inspired by The Sims, which I’ve been playing recently. I was mostly just inspired by the concept of simulation games in general rather than The Sims itself (especially considering that when I play the Sims, it’s very character based).

I started out my game by listing certain concepts that I wanted to express in my games. Some notes include:

  • “Trans men who transition later have spent their lives on the receiving end of a lot of gendered discrimination and abuse and violence; and then suddenly found ourselves not only cut off from support for that trauma, but implicitly associated with its perpetrators.” – jay edidin
  • others tend to believe that trans men have access to male privilege simply because they are men, ignoring the fact that society mostly sees them as women and they have been or currently are treated as women/experienced misogyny
  • non-transmasculine trans people often alienate transmasculine people by associating transness as inherently anti-man/anti-masculinity
  • transmasculine peoples’ views on transness and gender and oppression are put on the back burner because of their maleness and the association of transmasculinity with cis masculinity and patriarchy
  • trans men are viewed either consciously or unconsciously as gender traitors, and this is especially seen with the perpetuation of the idea that they should be relinquishing their claim to their experiences with misogyny and gender-based discrimination

From there, I began to outline a story, and then separate that into multiple possible stories defined by choices.

Halfway through that outlining, I decided to go ahead and transfer it to Twine, and wrote the rest within the program.

In my first iteration, I ran out of time to create an alternate line of story depending on whether you wore a binder, but I remedied that in my second iteration.

If I were to create another iteration, I would create more experiences within the day or expand the world of the game. I initially wanted to include interactions with different kinds of trans men going through different things, with options to find out more about them and their experiences (i.e. feminine trans men, nonbinary trans men, trans men suffering from toxic masculinity and gender roles, etcetera) as well as transmasculine interaction with other trans people (negative and positive interaction between trans men and women was something i wanted to touch on because i’ve seen such polarizing behavior between us).

Gameplay wise, I received feedback about problems in the game re: options not being clickable and text showing up multiple times. I would definitely proofread it more and do more debugging to make sure everything runs smoothly. I feel like I could have organized the game in Twine a lot more cleanly so it wouldn’t have been so confusing and easy to mess up with.

play here

Artwork 4: The Pie Baker

The Pie Baker


The intersection of theater and games is something I’ve grown to be very interested in recent years. I had an upbringing around theater so much of my cultural backbone stems from that world. One of my favorite shows ever is Stephen Sondheim’s and Hugh Wheeler’s Sweeney Todd. I spent a large part of my senior year of high school obsessed with it’s score and thematic elements and it was around this time I asked a question that still plagues me to this day. How do you make a musical into a video game.?

I don’t know the answer. I can’t say I will ever but I’ll keep trying to find out.

So that’s where this game comes in. It’s based off of an idea I had for a Sweeney Todd VR game where in the song “Epiphany” you swing the controllers around rapidly slicing what and who ever is in the way. The idea is that the person playing will emulate the complete insanity of the main character at that point. I had no intentions on adapting that for this project until I read “Discourse Engine’s for Art Mods” where much of the discussion surrounded the mod “Adam Killer.” Reading the piece I drew connections between the art’s description and my own idea so lacking any better idea I decided that I will make something like that for the project.

What came to be the spooky scene was prominently an experimentation with many software programs. Horror can be easily made by just messing with software you don’t fully understand until something uncanny is produced. “What happens if I take off all the hinges on a rag doll? Oh oh wow, oh god.”

The domestic baking outline that exists to hide the dark symbolic slicing scene was made as not only a further adaptation of Sweeney Todd but also as satire on many mobile games. The UI is directly downloaded from the Unity Asset store, this was in effort to make the game look more generic and closer to what I wished to satirize. The main loop of the game is buying meat and wheat and then waiting 20-25 seconds for the pie to bake and be sold. It’s slow, repetitive, completely draining, and with a profit of 1 coin per pie… will take 10 hours until you beat the game. There are two ways of speeding this up. You could purchase gems from the store to buy coins or meat (not implemented because I don’t want your money) or you can visit the cellar and get your coins fro the small price of symbolic murder. Capitalism can be fun!

This is a piece of game art. It’s not made to be fun, but I did want to make the juxtaposition of the colorful kitchen and the spooky cellar funny. It seems that’s how I best deal with my frustrations, make other people laugh at them.

Artwork 4: Pillow Talk

The Game

So the game I made with a Pillow Simulator on Twine. In the game, the player has died and they answer a few questions. The questions don’t do much except give me insight about how what would the player miss besides material objects without outright stating what or who they would miss. I added this because this a reincarnation game and these games are not

And then they become a pillow and live out their lives as a pillow. A pillow has no agency or can do anything so the game is rather linear and the player’s input doesn’t really change anything. The player as a pillow never have any actions and rather observe events around them and to them. However games are known to have choice and so I put in a wish mechanic to give players a sort of ‘choice’. The wish mechanic doesn’t do anything except allow the player to choose an ‘option’ and develop their opinions on the events happening around them or to them since there’s no reason for the player to care because… they are a pillow. Change can’t happen with out external forces.

The inspiration for this is from Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit and from her series of talks such as “Stone Talk”, “Star Talk”, and “Line Talk”. She writes about what the objects are in simple statements and the reader is only being told what the object is without a sense that they can object. It’s from a 3rd person perspective and I wanted to change it into 1st person because inanimate objects have such mundane life and exploring it interested me.

An example of this in my game is the statement, “A pillow can’t breathe”. But inside the pillow is a human soul and there’s a part where they try to breathe. It doesn’t work, but they compromise with feeling the air in-between their fibers.

The original idea for the game was to have a questionnaire and then the player will become one of three inanimate objects and a small vignette will play. However as I was writing the pillow route, I got more invested into it and realized a week later that doing three in the same scale in the time frame wasn’t possible. So I devoted my time to the pillow route and got rid of the other options and questionnaire.


The first person who playtested was rather taken back by how much was written and how realistic it was. They were expecting more of a humorous tone since the concept of the game is the player died and has turned into a pillow. Part of them thinking that, besides the ridiculous concept, is because I called the game a Pillow Simulator so one of my notes became to rename the project.

There were a fair amount of confusion with the things I was describing such as the plastic carry-on a pillow comes with or the florescent lighting through the bag. A lot of the players were confused with the ball of light in the beginning and so I had to put in the beginning that the player has died. I didn’t want to remove those parts because that is part of being a pillow, waiting to be bought so I added more reveal and realization when the player realizes they’re a pillow after they’ve been bought and taken out of their plastic prison.

I considered adding the sardonic tone and questionnaire from my 2nd Artwork. However one of my players pointed out that the tone of game isn’t sardonic and that adding the questionnaire might make others players think it’ll be funny instead of being contemplative and semi-realistic.

Another big change I made was splitting the descriptions and events more. Because a lot of the time it would be a giant block of text and one of the player would lose their place and zone out while reading the game.

Other changes were the tense changing a lot even in the same page along with a lot of typos.

Artwork 4: Mr. Wendell

For my final project ( I chose to create an interactive fiction game. In the game you are a boy talking to your closest friend, Mr. Wendell, about what the future holds.

Mr. Wendell

Mr. Wendell is a reflection of the protagonist, conflicted and rejected by society. While Mr. Wendell does not change, the protagonists attitude towards Mr. Wendell can vary wildly. You can choose to stay with Mr. Wendell in the closet where it is safe, go out and leave Mr. Wendell behind, burn Mr. Wendell, or take Mr. Wendell with you to college. While the game isn’t nearly as long as I would like it to be, I still love the concept of a story that consists entirely of crazy, one-sided dialogue from the protagonist. I found it rewarding to develop the mutual relationship between the two, especially when it came to dialogue that was self-reflective, such as reassuring Mr. Wendell of his fears of the future or talking about how Mr. Wendell had been broken.

A half-human half-goat creature with school books and a backpack


Initially I had envisioned a much larger scale, with the protagonist going through a world of half-human, half-goat people yet facing relatable dilemmas. The world would be extraordinary harsh with all other characters speaking through a robotic voice box. The protagonist would choose whether to associate with Bethany or his friends, and then choose his nurturing mother or his hard working father. Demonic aspects were layered throughout to exaggerate the cruelty of the world, with the friends beating and killing an ostracized classmate and with the father’s job being to kill all the deformed goat-human babies being born. While this is still a game and a world I’m extremely interested in exploring, especially diving deeper into the sci-fi elements, it was far too big of a scope for this project, and I ended up going for the much more grounded shrine that was Mr. Wendell.

Mr. Wendell was inspired by a number of elements, with the visual representation being the immediate focus. I really enjoyed the wide variety of dada collages, especially those that replaced the human form with mechanical parts such as Hannah Höch’s The Beautiful Girl and Max Ernst’s Sacred Conversations. I was also inspired by Dali’s surrealist work and carried that over to the melting plastic in addition to John Vochatzer’s contemporary collages being a great showcase of creatures with a terrifying presence. I also wanted to hint at the idea of the readymade, with there being a constant question if Mr. Wendell, and thus the protagonist, are just trash. I thought this paralleled nicely with the idea of being “broken” and a question of what the ideal state of something is, both for art and one’s own self.

As far as the goat imagery, Catherine was a big inspiration, with the dream like sequences where all men are turned into goats being especially compelling. I thought the goat would be interesting, posing as both a plush toy friend like many other barnyard animals, and calling to some deeper, possibly demonic power.

Overall I’m very happy with how the game turned out. I still think it is tragically short and would highly encourage multiple playthroughs, but I really enjoyed the artistic styles I got to experiment with, and the unique narrative stance of the one-sided conversation