This Meal Is Awful

I was very sad to miss so much of this class this semester since I love video games, and especially art games, to death. I read critical gaming literature every week (shoutouts to Critical Distance for making things easier) and, eventually, I would like to get into the gaming industry or journalism industry. However, I don’t think I’m anywhere near that, and as such I would much rather make something fun instead of critical. Making something fun is difficult enough.

I really dislike Cards Against Humanity. I don’t dislike it because it’s popular, but because I don’t find it fun nor funny. However, so many of my friends bring and have played it on so many different occasions that I always play along. It’s a bonding thing, and (in my opinion) one of the most boring bonding things out there.

Still, I give it props for being such a creative game. There are a few others like it, such as the classic Charades, or Apples to Apples, that I enjoy significantly more because the templates aren’t so rigid. As such, I decided to make another game in the same vein.

Like most creative projects, I worked with my boyfriend on this one. Originally, I wanted to create a game we could play against each other and enjoy even after this semester. We are both very competitive, so a competitive game made sense. However, we couldn’t really agree on how to make a competitive game (in the time allotted for the mini-game jam that I created for this project), so instead we came up with This Meal Is Awful.

It’s a simple game, and I’ll upload everything here ASAP so people can play.

Basically, the game has a shared deck of cards. Each player draws 10 each round. Each card has a food item on it. There are three phases – the cook phase, the sabotage phase, and the judge phase.

The cook phase

Using the ingredients in the player’s hand, the player puts down ingredients on top of each other to create a dish. The player then names that dish. The player can create as many dishes as they want, essentially creating a meal. Dishes can’t be modified after being finished except by being sabotaged.

The sabotage phase

As soon as a player is done with their cook phase, they can start sabotaging other players by putting one of their unused food items on another player’s dish. The food item can’t be removed.

The judging phase

Each player presents their dishes and meal that they’ve prepared, including the names of the dishes and meal and why they used the ingredients they did. Each player then chooses another player who they think made the best dish. There is no predefined judging criteria. Whoever has the most votes wins. If there is a tie, there is a revote where people can only vote for the players who tied.

After each round, players shuffle their cards back into the deck.

Players can make wacky meals and completely mess up other player’s meals. Players who are sabotaged can make up stories based on why their meal includes some kind of sabotage ingredient. It could end up being a very creative game on the player’s end.

I already knew about Dada going into this class, but the Fluxus movement, especially Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit and scores in general really influenced the way I think about games. While a lot of instructions can be rigid, many of the projects in the class seemed to benefit from being able to be interpreted differently from participants. To me, that is the ideal situation. That’s the main reason I decided to come up with This Meal Is Awful.

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Election Intervention

The election season was coming to a close and I could see emotions were high from most people that I knew. 2016’s presidential election was also a historically negative one, with very little of delving into policy and a lot of character attacks, which makes sense considering the candidates.

While I could generally see how people felt about the election, I wanted people to have a creative outlet to express their feelings. A lot of my favorite art, such as Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece, allows participants to express themselves in a cathartic sense. As a result, I employed the tables in the Curry Student Center as peoples’ canvas. These tables are whiteboard tables, and everyone in the space is given a marker and eraser already. As such, it was pretty much a perfect place to do this intervention.

All I did was write “Draw a picture that describes how you feel about this election” and walked away (after getting a couple pictures of people who wanted to draw something at the start). I wanted to let people be as creative, or simple, as possible. I didn’t place any constraints on people. They could even write words instead of drawing pictures of they wanted to.

The result was pretty good – there was a mix of emojis and more creative absurdist things. I wouldn’t be surprised if people modified their pictures on what other people drew as well. Also, I was surprised that people didn’t draw more, but the drawings being in such a public space could have dissuaded them.

Originally I was going to do a retrospective intervention after the election as well with the message “Draw you feelings about how the election went .” However, anyone who walked around Boston on November 9th could have understood the mood regardless. Still, I do wish that I did a retrospective intervention, as people may have wanted some outlet. I have attached a few pictures of other interventions that happened in Boston post-election, though, since those give a good idea of what I was trying to accomplish as well.



Weighing Game

Number of players: At least 2

The pieces:

One “deck” composed of the “cards”, who are human participants (of which there needs to be at least 4 times the number of players)

One scale

A die/random number generator and picker

Pen and paper

Goal: To have the combined total of the weights of your cards get as close as possible, but not exceed, a weight decided on by the players before the game.


  1. The two players take a look at the “deck” and agree on a weight to match and not exceed.
  2. Assign each “card” a number out of the total number of cards, and have each player draw two cards to start, as they would in the game blackjack.
  3. Weigh each of the two cards discreetly, with only each player knowing their own cards’ weights.
  4. Have the players record their own cards’ weights and total them.
  5. Each player, one at a time, can then “hit” or “stay” depending on if they want to draw another card or keep their current hand.
    • If a player hits, they then weigh their new card and add the weight to their previous cards’ weights. That is their new total.
    • If a player stays, then they keep their current total weight and are unable to hit any more.
  6. Repeat step 5 as necessary.
  7. Once both players stay, each player reveals the total of their weights. Whoever has a total weight closer to the agreed-upon weight wins.

Artist Statement:

I wanted to create a game that could be picked up at any time (as long as the instructions are understood!). A significant number of households are likely to have a scale, so all you need otherwise are people who are willing to participate. This game could be fun with the right crowd, but I understand that most people feel somewhat uncomfortable with their weight. Still, Weighing Game is my appropriated solution to the game Blackjack. By solution, I mean that it cuts down on the randomness inherent in Blackjack and is very modular – the rules allow for different goals at the players discretion, whether it just be that they agree on a completely random number or that they take a look at the participants and decide a goal based in their judgments. Weighing Game also gives you a smaller “deck” with pre-defined weights, but it does involve some skill in judging what the weights are before you hit or stay. It’s a very judgmental game, period.

In the vein of being a judgmental game, however, I tried to make it so the game doesn’t discriminate against smaller or larger people. If you have a larger audience, then you can make the weight goal larger, and vice versa. However, the game is likely to make people feel bad if they cause a player’s weight total to go over the goal. It’s not a fair game for anyone, really, because so much judgment of actual people is needed.

A lot of games and pieces of appropriation in the Dada and Fluxus movements are interesting, maybe funny, almost always winks at whoever is looking on at the games and pieces, with ready-mades such as “Fountain” and “Bicycle Wheel” being early examples and the many, many chess variations (possibly most notably Yoko Ono’s “White Chess”) being a later ones. They also, much of the time, comment on a current feeling, whether that feeling is about capitalism or war or any other big thing. And, as Duchamp always wanted, some of them are intentionally not aesthetically appealing (even though, as we learned in class, sometimes art is considered more appealing as it is looked at more positively over time).

The Weighing Game is not particularly appealing to play, and it can be disgusting. I am not too happy with having made it – the potential for fun is there if you play with a really tight-knit group of friends, but I do not see any other groups enjoying it too much. I usually want games that I make to be enjoyable in some way, or at least interesting. I’m not sure if Weighing Game is really either of those.


Glasses Piece


Glasses Piece for a Group of People

Give each other glasses to wear.
Look each other in the eyes for one minute.
Converse with each other the next.
Do not tell any one your feelings.


I’ve always been interested in video games that challenge your emotions and make you feel something you either dislike or do not feel often. I saw other students in this class go for similar themes – “Uncomfortable Piece” and “Breakfast Orchestra Piece” come to mind, as they try to make social interactions awkward or the atmosphere odd. Of those two, my Glasses Piece score follows the same direction that “Uncomfortable Piece” does, which was based on social interaction constrained by limitations.

Fluxus scores are, by nature, extremely limited in scope. They are generally very specific instructions with a low word count designed to make you feel something new or different. I wanted to take this limited theme to an even further extreme when it came to social interaction, while also making it a little absurd by needlessly incorporating glasses into the piece (where people can think whatever they want about them). In limiting the interaction in the score to everything except feelings, players are likely to have a hard time thinking up anything to talk about.

To underscore this point, when this piece was played in class one of the players tried to bargain with me on what exactly they could say – whether something they were physically feeling was part of their “feelings” and if they could talk about it. Also, because the timing of the score is so specific one person has to keep time and things feel rushed. If a player did want to say something, they better speak quickly. However, it felt like, because this is a score for 2+ people, having more than two people would lead to someone dominating the conversation. I would want to make the game more fun (even though it is supposed to be awkward) by making it a game for two people only.

One piece in Yoko Ono’s “Grapefruit” that I was inspired by is “Snow Piece”, a cute and silly piece that doesn’t necessarily make you think of another person in a new way, but makes you see them in a visually different way. It is likely to have you avoid thinking of emotions when a person is talking, but maybe not! If they’re talking in a frenzy, perhaps there is a blizzard covering them. In the same way, I hope “Glasses Piece” would let players conjure up things that surround other players, as they’re forced to stare into each other’s eyes for a minute. When you look in to another person’s eyes, what do you see? A lot of times I imagine fire, but it depends on that person. Maybe they are staring intently at each other, or maybe they are trying to discreetly not focus on each other. The awkwardness can make it fun.

Video documentation: https://youtu.be/JPcYUbc1jQ0