Month: December 2019

Fruitting In

For my final project I wanted to base the game off an experience from my life. I chose to make a game to depict what it feels like to be African-American and White, raised in a Christian and Jewish household. Simply put, more often than not I find that instead of fitting into any group, I’m the odd one out in all of them. With a group of black friends, I’m the white one. To a group of white friends, I’m the black one. With my Jewish friends, I’m not Jewish enough because my mom isn’t Jewish. With Christian friends, I’m the Jew.

The way I aimed to create this was through a social game appropriating game mechanics from games such as Spyfall, Room at Top, and some other card-based games. The rules of the game are as follows.

The cards looked like this

I wanted the players to move around asking questions and trying to find people of their own group. I wanted to incentivize the people to separate by type, leaving the one person without the fruit to try to fit in with the other groups. I wanted the fruit players to have something to do, as well as not know who has the blank, that’s why they have to work to find out who is in their group. I also wanted to give an opportunity for the blank card player to fake it and try to fit in. The blank card player obviously simulates my experience in groups of people where I’m not quite sure what my identity is. The black card player often just goes along with whatever is said, as to not stand out. I can relate to that style of action, talking about the Jewish things I did when I’m with my Jewish friends, etc.  The main thing that inspired me to do this was Dys4ia. Watching that game made me very emotional considering how well the designer seemed to get across her life experience. I wanted to do something similar, and decided that with my skill set I would need to make an analog game. I appropriated game mechanics and tried to form them into a way that can give the players an experience on the small scale of something that I experience often.

Artwork #4: Going in Circles

Going in Circles, Artist’s Statement:

My project, “Going in Circles” is an experimental platformer in which you play as a circle navigating a circle trying to obtain circles while reaching the final central circle. The game is a metaphorical representation of life meant to induce the feeling of one’s life going in circles at times, that the loop can never be escaped but that one needs to do the best in the loop they’re given, as represented by the ending. You can either collect all the coins or successfully reach the end, either way you won’t “win” the game, but you’ll succeed in the path you choose. I was greatly inspired by a lot of the works we studied in class, such as some of the art games like “Dys4ia” and “The Marriage”. These games used basic shapes and inventive game mechanics to represent an experience without very explicit details. “The Marriage” especially acts as an inspiration since it represents a marriage through two squares which need to touch each other but also grab circles in order to maintain their survival. I tried to emulate this concept of simple shapes and complex game mechanics acting as metaphors for more complex concepts. In addition, the focus on circles was sort of inspired by the Fluxus Happenings, since they play around with one simple object or concept and use it in different ways to create art. In a similar way, I used circles and other simplistic shapes to produce a game about life in general. The circular design was somewhat inspired by those cheap circle maze toys, in which you lean the toy in different directions to move the ball to the center. Finally, I was inspired a bit by Marcel Duchamp’s LHOOQ in which the Mona Lisa is appropriated since he added a goatee and the phrase “LHOOQ” to make a comment about beauty in art. In my work, I appropriated the Mona Lisa as the reward for completing all three levels, to symbolize the end goal of a happy life which will never be completely reached.



The title screen for the game. It’s been designed to be very simplistic.

The first level of the game. You have 30 seconds to complete the level. It’s relatively simple and easy to navigate, allowing the user to develop an understanding of the game mechanics early on. The blue circle is the collectible, the white circle is the character, the yellow circle is the end goal, and the orange rectangle is the obstacle.

The second level of the game. It really draws heavily from the circle maze toy. It has more complexity and difficulty in its design as you need to spin the level around a lot to get all the blue circles and then get to the middle. You only get 20 seconds to complete this level, making it a bit more difficult than the previous level.

The third level of the game. This level has the most danger as it’s the last level and it should be the hardest level. In addition, you get only 10 seconds to complete the level, inducing a panic as you try to grab as many blue circles as possible without falling into the orange obstacle. Finally, the main choice of the entire game is given here, as you have to chose to complete the level or get the last blue circle. (Next posts)

This is the game over screen if you die by hitting the orange or running out of time. As shown here, the player can get all 15 blue circles, but they won’t be able to “complete” the last level, and thus they get a game over.

The other option for the player is that they end the game with only 14 blue circles of the 15, and get the amazingly passive aggressive phrase “Nice Try!” In addition, the Mona Lisa is displayed to correspond with the number of blue circles collected, so it will never fill up the frame completely since you’ll never get the win and get all 15 blue circles.

This is my friend Jimmy. I had him play test the game and watching his process of playing through the game was fascinating. At the start, he collected a couple coins, but decided he wanted to simply complete the game. So his first goal became to get to the end. He lost a lot. Ultimately, he beat the third level, and got the Mona Lisa end screen, but had only collected 2 blue circles and couldn’t even tell what it was. Then his new goal became to collect all of the blue circles and get to the end. Again, he died a lot. He began to master the game as he kept playing. Once he got to the last level, he became confused as he couldn’t figure out how to get the last blue circle to get 15/15 without dying. After getting there a couple times, he was very confused, he couldn’t figure out the proper way to get 15/15 and win. He tried different methods but kept losing. Eventually I told him that you have to die to get 15/15. He then decided to get 15/15 and die, and also get 14/15 and get the Mona Lisa. However something even more interesting, which I didn’t expect, occurred. He kept playing after getting those two endings, with no real end goal. It was fascinating, he was hooked to the game. I then asked him about it, and he wasn’t really sure why he was still playing. Ultimately, the two of us chalked it up to the idea that humans want completion and this game will never provide it, so people will keep playing for a complete ending which is impossible. It was almost like his mind had entered its own circle.

Nico Ulloa Experience Project – Editorial Board: The Paradoxical Ecstasy of Meaningless Subjectivity

My final project is a game card/board game about analyzing news “stories” and creating headlines to sell (and often spin) said stories. The game was largely inspired by my growing interest over the years in how money and other agendas can absolutely warp coverage and shape policy– a couple notable examples being the consistently empathetic coverage of billionaires and the recent Splinter news debacle. The game seeks to highlight the seemingly arbitrary and completely dishonest way basic facts can be distorted while maintaining the humorous and parodic nature of Dadaist work.

In the game players draw a card from a “story” deck which usually outlines an event, its participants, the location, and other relevant information. Players then go on to submit a “headline” to a judge,  who selects a winner and awards a point. The winner then becomes the next judge and so on. In initial iterations, this was the main focus of the game and it worked successfully to create a humorous dynamic not dissimilar to Cards Against Humanity. Some highlights that made me and others laugh include:

  • “Dukey Buys Chinese Children” – From a story about a “fake” rapper “Dukey North” creating a new clothing line that was made using sweatshop labor.
  • “Boomer Has Never Seen A Woman” – From a story about a male film director sharing a negative opinion about blockbuster movies which feature female superheroes.
  • “Chicken Is Now the Apex Predator” – From a story about a fight over a sold out chicken sandwich.

While the dynamic worked, after some thought I realized it wasn’t quite what I intended; the game still missed the agenda-making context I was looking for and so I implemented a mechanic where alongside the “Story” card, players draw a “Publisher” card and try to create their headline around that. Some of the publishers I selected were;

  • The Daily Stormer (Online Neo-Nazi Publication)
  • Breitbart (Online Alt-Right Publication)
  • Fox News (Multimedia Right Wing Publication)
  • CNN (Multimedia Center Publication)
  • New York Times (Online/Print Center-Left Publication)
  • The Guardian (Multimedia Left Wing Publication)
  • The Daily Kos (Online Socialist Publication)

To be noted, I have a left wing-bias myself and my classification of these is very rough and lacks full nuance. However I selected these because I thought it would be more accessible to have more recognizable publications for an audience.

The results of this was fascinating, because even while I gave it new depth the result remained humorous. I play-tested with my parents over Thanksgiving and their own bias immediately became present as they made caricatures of the publications they disagreed with, while they were more respectful and even stylistically professional with those they appreciated. I think then the game began embodying the fluxus attitude of “helping us practice life” as outlined in “Fluxus and The Essential  Questions of Life”; while supposedly playing a game critiquing bias and players themselves began showing (and playing with) their own implicit bias. I think a fascinating step if I were to take this project further would be to test with people with right wing views and see what results that yields.

At first I had the idea that players would write their answers on whiteboard/erasable cards that they could reuse. But after playing a couple of times I started realizing more and more how earlier headlines, even great ones, became forgotten. As such I opted instead to introduce an endgame mechanic where players compile all of their headlines into an “editorial board.” The result is a strange, almost nonsensical mismatch, a weird large mess with strangely coherent parts – a written word Exquisite Corpse. I think in this way the game could also be a way of art-making, should the players choose to keep the editorial board.


Excuses! is a game where players, playing as workers, battle each other by improvising stories to blame other worker for corporate inefficiency. If the Boss thinks you’re making too many excuses, you’ll have to pack up your belongings.


For my first concept for the game, I wanted to implement some system inspired from the Chinese social credit system as a way to make a commentary on it. The first core mechanic revolved around a Coup like gameplay whereby players each had different actions they could take each turn which could both help themselves and hurt others in terms of social credit and wealth. Unfortunately after playtesting I soon realized the current system I had just wasn’t fun. From the first game idea, where players played as workers in a factory, I was inspired to create a game that had the same concept of factory workers betraying each other as a way to climb some corporate ladder. I opted for a LARP style improv game where a boss would question workers on why they are to blame for factory efficiency, and the workers would need to make excuses on the fly to say why they weren’t at fault and that it was one of the other worker’s faults. If the boss feels like the worker’s don’t make an adequate excuse, then they can give that player an excuse card. When a player gains three excuse cards they lose and the game is over. As an aesthetic decision I choose that unlike the first iteration, I wanted this game to be much more lighthearted and funny. I added a mechanic where workers would play different cards with short silly phrases on them such as “Faking the Moon Landing,” and the workers would need to use that phrase as part of their excuse. Many of these cards are fantasy and science fiction related to try to push players to be more inventive with their stories. I tried an iteration where there wasn’t a boss to try and create a more natural dynamic, but I found that the boss really help to push the game forward. On my second playtest I implemented a doubt system, where another play could play one of their three doubt cards to falsify another player’s information so they would need to redirect their story. The second playtest went really well with the workers going back and forth rapidly, my intended behavior. The game ended with only three of the seventy-two cards left in the deck, so I chose to increase the total number of cards to one hundred and fifty. I also polished up the ruleset so that it would be more understandable to new players without any guidance.


As an expression, my first game was originally going to be a commentary on the Chinese social credit system and the incentives it creates for people to go against one another for their own personal gain. I took some of the mechanics from real world situations involving social credit and based the monetary loss and gain off of actual statistics for the places in China where social credit is already implemented. Unlike some of the anti-war games discussed in class where players were usually the one’s acting upon the object of artistic focus, I wanted the players to be immersed in a world where they are competing for social credit. I was inspired by games like Papers Please and September 12th where players took on roles in these societies that were impacted by the object of artistic focus. I thought about if I wanted the game to be very serious or very lighthearted and decided that if I wanted players to actually play my game and take away some meaning from it it would need to be enjoyable enough to continuously play. My philosophy with these serious games is that the entertainment should come first, and the artist’s message should basically be subtle for players who are looking for a deeper meaning in their games to find. When I tried to make my existing game lighthearted, it seemed to lose a lot of its character. Instead I decided to take the behavior of workers betraying each other and use that as the medium for an improv game. I was inspired by The Institute where players were given seemingly random instructions and were put in absurd situations which allowed the players to immediately feel the artistic message of the game through their actions alone, so I added the card mechanic which with its silly design, forced players to get comfortable in this strange corporate, yet fictional world. To add more depth to the behavior of players and to encourage them to blame each other I added the doubt mechanic, where players could go back and forth battling with improvisation. Overall, I feel that my game was successful in creating a narrative where workers would compete in a corporate atmosphere to gain the favor of their higher-ups. 

Aftermath of Excuses!

Artwork #4: Experience

For my art game I decided to create a game that tries to depicts social anxiety by using Minecraft. Weeks before the pitch meeting I was thinking of making an art game about loneliness or anxiety. I planned to use rpg maker to create a game that is largely empty to give players a sense of loneliness. I then give up on the idea and move on to an idea about decisions. This idea is inspired by a song that I was listening to where a line says “Life is multi-ending”. I thought about this line and wanted to create a game that is kind of against what majority art games depicts life. Unlike the an art game that was shown in class, life isn’t just a straight line. The choices we make determines the outcome and ending of our life. I then decided that I would be using Minecraft to create it. The reason is that Minecraft is also used as a adventure map maker by its players. Players can create minigames and map with commands and redstones in creative mode. I was thinking of making a map where the player make choices and collect stuffs. And their ending depends on the stuffs they collected. However, I thought that the game will be too boring even if the core idea is interesting.

So, I finally decided to make a game about social anxiety in the middle of the pitch meeting. I chose this theme because it’s something that I personally struggled with and want to express it. The game will depict how it feel when trying to make a new friend or even tries to talk to new people. The game will give you simple task such as “Talk to a person” and have a difficult task standing between the player and their goal. The difficult tasks will be difficult Minecraft minigames such as parkour and mazes. During these challenges there will be “voices” telling you to give up and discourages the player. This emulates how it feel during or potential social interactions. This function is inspired by the game “Loved” that was shown at the show and tell. If the player decides to give up there is a room at the end of the hallway that the player always have access to. The room is designed to be cozy to be the player’s safe space that people with social anxiety retreat to, usually their home/room. The environment also changes as player progresses through the level. The hallway becomes bigger, brighter and colorful to represent the player’s emotion. The safe room also changes to from dark and cozy to bright and empty as the safe room doesn’t seem necessary anymore. And a change to add on to that idea is the levels will get easier as player progresses through the game. This emulates the sense of courage with each successful attempts.

The game contains 4 different hallways that gets brighter and the final hallway, which is the ending.

The first level is parkour and the player’s first task is to introduce yourself to “Sam”. Sam is a Minecraft dog that is suppose to represent the person that the player is trying to befriend. I chose the first level to be a parkour because it’s one of the hardest minigame in Minecraft, at least to me. However, it has proven to be difficult not only to me during the first play test.

The second level is a dark maze with monster inside it. The monster is named “FEAR” and I made it to be invincible. The task is to talk to Sam more and the player have to get to the end while avoiding the FEARs. I put light up safe area within the dark maze where the player are invisible while being inside it. This was the third level of the game but I thought this is much more difficult than the previous second level. Play tester expresses the same thought and said that this is more difficult because you can’t see the goal.

This is the current third level where previously this was the second. The reason for the change is that it’s easier than the current second level. Also if you’re lucky enough you can easily clear it. The task is to accept Sam’s invitation and the challenge is to reach the goal without being killed by the mob.

This is the final level which is a dropper. Dropper is a classic Minecraft minigame where the player have to thread the needle and fall into the hole. This is the easiest level of the game. The task is to invite Sam out which is something people with social anxiety can only do when they’re confident enough.

The final hallway is the ending where you’re finally close friend with Sam and escape the hallway. This gives a sense of liberation.

Appropriated material: Minecraft by Mojang

Justin Brady Final Project: Extremely Relevant Answers to Pressing Questions

My game is a game of talking your way from one point to two entirely unrelated points. It was inspired by the theater of political debates, especially the recent Democratic Debates between all the Democratic nominees for president. Nominees will often be asked what the average person would agree are straightforward questions, and instead of answering what was asked of them, the nominees will talk their way though all sorts of twists and turns to talk about something completely unrelated to the question at hand. This kind of mental gymnastics would be a lot more entertaining if it weren’t for the realization that these people want to lead one of the most important countries in the world and they literally can’t answer a simple yes or no question. So I thought I’d channel this general disbelief at the state of the political establishment into a fun and entertaining party game.

In my game, three players act as candidates in a debate. Rounds consist of each candidate drawing two discussion cards, and a non-candidate player asking the candidates a question, preferably with a political theme. Each candidate must then refer to their discussion cards, which all feature different unique subjects for them to try to weave into their answer. For instance, a non-candidate may ask the candidates what they think about Canadian armies amassing on the northern border. The candidate must then refer to their cards (which include subjects like “Your Favorite Anime” and “BIC Ballpoint Pens”) to see what they must talk about in their answer.

An example of how someone might answer that question with those cards is as follows: “Well you know, that’s a very important question. Obviously I take national security very seriously. I believe that everything should have a tight lid on it, you know, very covered up, prevent spilling any red. Sort of like a BIC ballpoint pen, you have to keep the cap on it or else you’ll get red all over your pocket. You’ll end up with a pocket that looks like Japan’s flag. And you know, speaking of Japan, I just rewatched my favorite anime, Yuri on Ice, and that had some Canadians in it. So perhaps if things escalate we can ask our friends in Japan if they know anything about Canadian tactics after making a whole anime about their ice skating antics?” Something like that. It makes no sense and is only tangentially related to the question at hand, but I got from the main point to my two preferred talking points, so it’s all good!

After each candidate has said their piece, the rest of the players vote on who they think “won the debate.” What criteria that’s based on is entirely up to the individual player. Whoever wins the debate gets a point, and the next three players clockwise are the new debaters. The first player to 5 points wins the game, and the election! Yay, democratic process!

As mentioned before, my game is meant to satirize the political theater that goes on in America. Everything that politicians do to secure the vote is, at it’s heart, an act. Presidential candidates are constantly performing to an audience of roughly a quarter of a billion eligible voters in order to secure their vote at the ballot box in November. So when candidates have the chance, on national TV, to talk, they’ll take it, even if it means they don’t answer what questions we really want to know. That, and just general frustration at the state of democracy in America, where not even people in the same party can agree on the most basic fundamental policies for America. It’s cathartic to goof on the process every once in a while with friends.

The actual gameplay is of course inspired by other popular party games like Apples to Apples, Metagame, and Cards Against Humanity. I like the random nature of these games, where you can’t quite expect the same thing to happen in any two games. Plus the development and testing process helps me flex my creative and comedic muscles for writing open ended prompts for players to mess with. The game-testing process helped me outline the important minutia like how exactly to write the cards for maximized humor potential, and the bigger stuff like how many rounds each candidate pool goes through, how many discussions cards they should each receive, if the players should argue with each other, those things.

Here are some of the discussion cards players might receive as candidates:

  • Game of Thrones Season 8
  • The Houston Astros
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Sheep Herding in Seattle
  • The Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  • Stale Wheat Thins
  • Your Favorite Anime
  • IKEA Furniture
  • The North Pole
  • The TV Show FRIENDS
  • Apple Products
  • Thermal Underwear
  • BIC Ballpoint Pens
  • A Red-Ringed XBOX
  • A Paper Jam
  • Amazon Warehouse Workers
  • A Hydroflask
  • An Backpack Full of Notebooks

Experience – Amaël de Betak

Scores Against Humanity Cards

As the theme for the final project of the class was experience, I wanted to create something which reflected my own experiences within the class. With each project, there was always one that would make us do something that would put us out of my comfort zone and require us to behave strangely in social environments. Something else which I wanted to do was combine every project them we had done so far into one.

This led me to the idea of Scores Against Humanity. The rules are similar to those of Cards Against Humanity; all players draw three cards from the score pile and select which player will be the initial judge. The round starts randomly picking a generic location using a wheel containing a pre-selected list of locations. Then, all players apart from the judge will select a score that they think fits the location and place it in front of the judge. He will then shuffle the cards in order to be impartial and select the score which he prefers. In order for the player whose score has been selected to earn the point, he must perform it in the location generated at the start of the round, after which he becomes judge and the process is repeated until one of the players reaches three points.

The inspiration for the game came from many different places. For one, the scores used in the game all originate from Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit which we read for class. I selected those which I thought were the easiest to execute in a public space without too much preparation, allowing for easier gameplay. I also took inspiration from Marcel Duchamp’s LHOOQ, which consisted of putting a mustache and goaty on the Joconde as well as writing LHOOQ at the bottom of the poster. I did something similar for the title of my game, for which I swapped the Cards with Scores from Cards Against Humanity. This also fits well as the scores are being performed in a public space and therefore could be seen as them going against humanity present in these environments. I also thought that the way in which The Institute was mixing a game with real-life was very interesting and I wanted to do the same for my own game, which led to the decision of performing the scores in a public space.

As I playtested my game, I found that my goal of making players feel discomfort was achieved as I could observe them being hesitant to perform the scores at first due to the fact they were being observed. However, they became more confident over the period of the game in the same way I did during the semester as we did more in more things in public spaces, going from the cardboard box play session to the parachute intervention, without forgetting about Ryan’s screaming score.

In conclusion, this game appropriated Yoko Ono’s scores, created interventions in public spaces and made the players experience discomfort, bringing all the different parts into one.

Elena Kosowski’s Experience Project: The Perfect Child

My game is about creating a child, and watching it be influenced by the world. This game contains a personal message. When I came out to my mom, she cried. She said she was scared of the world hurting me because of who I was. This really affected me. I wanted to create a game that replicated this experience.

In my game, you play as a parent.  Your job is to draw a child. After you draw your child, next you have to give it a name and a gift. Then, you tell your child out loud how you feel about it. The purpose of the first four steps is about having the player bond with their creation. This part represents giving birth to the child, and how a parent influences it in its early stages of growing up.

The next steps involve handing your child to another player and allowing them to add to your drawing however they want. This other player represents some influencer that affects your child during later stages of childhood. They could be a teacher, a tv show, a youtuber, an older sibling, another parent, a bully, or a best friend. Through this influencer, the child could discover something new about themselves, or be burdened with trauma. During this process, the parent cannot interact with the child, or know what it is going through, until the influencer eventually returns the child.

After this, a player appointed the Judge will go around and interact with each child. At the start of the game the judge will roll a 12-sided die four times. The result of the die will determine which rules the judge will use to grade all the children. If the judge decides the child fails the grading, the judge will rip the child. How much to rip and how harsh to grade is all up to the judge to decide. Their opinion is meant to be bias and unpredictable each new game. This part of the game presents the time when children have to enter the real world. The judge, representing society, damages the child for not meeting its unfair and bias rules a “perfect child” should meet. The set of rules I created are meant to be vague and contradicting. For example, one of the rules is “the child is too feminine”. What determines if it’s “too feminine”? Where is the line drawn? This is all up to the judge. Another rule is “The child is too masculine”. Depending on the set of rules the judge ends up using, it can be possible for no child to leave the grading alive.  After the grading is done, the last step is to have the parent tell the child out loud how they feel about the child again. Is what the parent says different from what they said before?

My game takes influence from Exquisite Corpse and Yoko Ono’s scores. The players follow the instructions like they would follow a score. Each step has importance and each play-through of the game can have different results. Similar to an Exquisite Corpse, the artwork of the child is added onto throughout the game. First the parent draws it, then another player draws, until the judge finishes it.

I found successful results during play-testing the game. Both judges were vicious when it came to ripping up the children. The first judge, however, had more bias. He ripped drawings he personally liked with less force and tried to not damage the artwork too much. I also noticed that the other players were visually upset when the children were ripped. One player showed a lot of anguish towards the destruction of a child he influenced but was not the parent of.

The game’s Instructions:

Before Starting: The judge rolls a 12-sided die 4 times to determine the game’s set of laws

Player Instructions:

  1. Draw your child (2-3 minutes)
  2. Name your child
  3. Give your child a gift (1-2 minutes)
  4. Tell your child how you feel about them
  5. Give your child to the person to your right.
  6. Do whatever you want to the new child you are given. (2-3 minutes)
  7. Hand the child back to its parent

Judge Instructions:

  1. Walk up to each parent and take their child away from them.
  2. Rip the child according to the law
  3. Hand child back to its parent

Final Instructions for Parent:

Tell the child how you feel about them.


The Laws for a Perfect Child:

(Rip the child if it matches any of the below statements)

  1. The child is too colorful
  2. The child is too big
  3. The child is too small
  4. The child is too violent
  5. The child is too sad
  6. The child is too feminine
  7. The child is not smart enough
  8. The child is too rich
  9. The child is too poor
  10. The child is not human
  11. The child is too masculine
  12. The child is too weird


Examples of some children:


Example of a Judge’s determined rules: