For my final project, I decided to make an avant-garde game that would simulate the difficulty of finding your life balance as a college student. Players are asked to play through a week in the life of a college student, during which they will plan out their schedule on a day-by-day basis. Players need to meet base requirements of sleep, food, and shelter, or they will lose. If the requirements are met for all of these categories by the end of the week, players are rewarded by repeating the same routine for another week. Players plan out their day by selecting cards with different tasks, each with a different time requirement (days are limited to 24 hours) and requirement fulfillments. Once all basic requirements have been fulfilled, players are also faced with school requirements, and only after do they finally get to add tasks for their leisure to their daily schedule.
I found out after my first playtest that my game needed balancing, as players had more free time to do fun tasks than was realistic. However, I was still satisfied to see that the game accurately represented other choices. For example, when faced with limited time and money, players would gravitate towards unhealthy choices like eating Qdoba every day because it was cheaper and faster. For my next iteration, I added the school requirement, which was not present for the first playtest. I found that this led players to experience a much more constricted schedule where they had to make tougher choices about how to manage their time.
For this project, I reflected far back to the artists we saw at the beginning of the semester, mainly Yoko Ono, who continued to inspire me with the risky hit-or-miss nature of her scores throughout the semester. Additionally, I was inspired by materials outside of class, including Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt, which intentionally creates unpleasant cinematic experience through boredom, redundancy, and absurdity. In a similar way, I didn’t base my game off of the assumption that it needed to be pleasant, fun, or even logical. Finally, I drew inspiration from Lucas Pope’s game Papers Please, which created a similar sensation of trying to balance one’s life to no avail.