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!

Intervention Art – Drawing on Every Board in Ryder

For my intervention, I choose to attempt to cover every whiteboard and chalkboard in Ryder Hall with drawings and words. As rules, we wouldn’t go into room that had other people in them, and we wouldn’t erase anything that was already on the board. I allowed anything to be drawn or written on the boards. Starting on a Sunday at 9:45, we started drawing as a big group covering as much of each board as we could. Team members would come in and out as they could, but in total we had around 15 people contributing to the project. Some rooms still had people studying in them, so we skipped those. We eventually filled all of the rooms on the first floor, excluding the ones with people in them, however when we began working on the second floor, the janitorial staff began erasing the work on the first floor. Because the intervention was no longer intervening the process we intended, we decided to stop the intervention early. Each member of the team drew independently and without specific instruction, though there were often collaborations during this. I thought this was important to the intervention to ensure that the message of creativity juxtapose with learning was at the forefront of the message. 


My initial intention with my project was to demonstrate how creative fields such as art, music, theatre, and dance are often seen as a distraction to supposedly more important and relevant fields like science and engineering. I was inspired by the absurdism of the Dada art movement and how they used exaggerated absurdity to question art itself. I wanted to use artistic expression in an exaggerated and absurd way to physically intervene in the process of teaching. I was also inspired by some of Banksy’s work wherein he uses the actual process of creating the artwork as part of its message. For instance some of Banksy’s graffiti work plays with the idea of not being able to stop his illegal graffiti as part of his message. One consideration we made while performing the intervention was to write in different forms the words: “Do not erase.” These words gave a sense of life to much of the absurd artwork, as if the artwork was speaking to the viewer. I found this quite similar to the repeating usage of “Dada” in the Dada artworks, whereby it’s repetition almost causes it to lose its inherent meaning. Overall the intervention was able to take inspiration from different intervention artists while still being able to use its unique medium to convey a unique message.


Intervention photos:

Just Draw – Appropriation Game

I originally intended for this game to be a single player experience, but after playtesting with an improvised multiplayer mode where each player would take a turn drawing, I realized that the multiplayer was the real source of fun for the game. There was a lot of emergent behavior I would never have seen in the single player game. The players began to play cooperatively and began helping each other out with their drawings. Some began to purposefully draw in a certain way as to help the other player with their next drawing. The game turned into this strange dialogue between the players as they were both helping each other turn the same thing into two different things. There were some other emergent behaviors that I didn’t expect for individual players. When I played the game, I drew very minimally to make the next drawing easier. Seeing others play, they added a lot more detail that I would’ve added. People became very attached to their drawings in a way that I didn’t necessarily intend. People overall seemed to want more control over their drawing, so I added the ability to move the camera and zoom in and out as well as undo drawings. 


For my appropriation game, the player is given a prompt to draw, which must be drawn by appropriating the previous player’s drawing. After the drawing is complete a new prompt is given to the next player. My original idea with this game was to somehow have the game mechanic be appropriation itself. In my pitch, the game mechanic was for the player to be able to explore their own creations that have been appropriated by the computer. I was inspired by a lot of the more theatrical Dada pieces, especially the earlier Zurich movement where the participation of the audience was a key part of the performance. In this game the player is key in the performance of appropriation. After making the game multiplayer, the form of appropriation transformed so that while the two players had the same object that they were appropriating, they were instructed to appropriate in two seemingly conflicting ways. With this game I saw the use of appropriation as a way to resolve these conflicts. When the players would need to turn a dog into a tree through only additional pencil strokes, there is an immediate conflict that arises. The message I wanted to send through this piece was that only through the act of appropriation by the player do they progress. Another interesting part of my game is scale. I was inspired by the use of scale as a tool for transformation such as the giant joystick or tiny hammer. I forced the player’s drawings to zoom out over time rather than just have them move along the screen.

Just Draw Zoom Out

Self-Portrait Score

Original: Self-Portrait

Place a mirror in front of you. Using a clean sheet of paper and a new pencil, draw what you see, sharpening as needed. Stop when your pencil disappears. Leave the drawing but remember to take everything else.


Final: Self-Portrait

Place a mirror in front of you so that you are looking at yourself without distraction. Using a clean sheet of paper and a new pencil, draw what you want without erasing. Sharpen as needed, stopping only when your pencil disappears. Leave the drawing but remember to take everything else.


This score was inspired by a lot of work stemming from East Asian Taoist and Buddhist art. The actual voice for the score was inspired by East Asian poetry. I wanted a piece that was very simple in concept, but difficult in execution. I wanted it to be a challenge for the performer, as well as a lesson of sorts. My main ideas were of introspection, self-concept, and self-healing. When I thought of this score, I intended for it to be repeatable, and meditative, and designed it as a form of meditation. In its first iteration, the main idea was that the performance should get more difficult as you draw as there is less you see to draw, and at this point you would need to search harder for what to draw. In the second iteration, after I attempted the performance myself, I realized that I wanted to make it a bit more intense of an experience, so I added the rule that you can’t erase, so everything you draw is permanent. During class, some comments were that the score was vague, which I intended, but I tightened it up a bit, adding the lines that the space should be free of distractions. Some people realized that by the way I worded it, that the performer didn’t need to draw themselves necessarily, so I took with that and changed it so they draw whatever they want and I also added that they need to see themselves in the mirror. After performing the score, I saw some additional themes of just the experience of life. Thinking about Dada and how they made equivalent both art and life, I thought about how the score was really about the experience of making art rather than the actual drawing itself, in the same way that perhaps life is more about the experience than about the actual content.


Final Drawing



Appropriated Art Show and Tell

For my show and tell, I chose to show Dumb Starbucks, a product of comedy show Nathan for You, where in the episode, a local coffee shop failing because of a nearby Starbucks calls in Nathan who suggests that they turn the coffee shop into parody art by branding itself as “Dumb Starbucks”. I chose this because I wanted to showcase both a different form of appropriation, parody, as well as showing the confusion over whether the act was a form of art. The Dumb Starbucks joke received international praise as a form of street art and it was rumored to be a creation of Banksy, but it’s interesting to see how people’s perspectives on whether something is art or not changes depending on the artist making it.