Artwork 4: LACO

LACO: Live Action Coming Out



Artist’s Statement:

I made LACO (Live Action Coming Out) for my expression piece. For me and many other LGBTQ+ people, coming out to family is one of the most stressful parts of life, and it never really ends. You don’t come out to one person and suddenly everyone knows. Every time you meet someone new and they don’t know, at some point you have to tell them.

Despite how people may appear on the outside, there is an internal sense of dread and despair that plagues the coming out process. How do you know when it’s safe to come out to someone? Do you do it before they get too close to you in case it ruins the friendship? Do you do it after you’ve built a rapport and risk losing it all? It’s a constant battle and one that LGBTQ+ people have to fight with constantly throughout their lives.

My intention with this piece was to create a social game that helps to replicate, even if for a single moment, that existential dread that when you come out your world might just fall apart.

My influences were wildly different for my mechanics and my message, but by taking elements of each I was able to craft the experience I wanted. For the mechanics, I took heavy inspiration from hidden roles games such as One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Town of Salem, or Mafia. These games all involve some form of random hidden roles, information gathering, and social interactions between players. As for my thematic inspiration, I drew heavily from my own experiences as a gay man growing up in the South as well as games that explore different parts of LGBTQ+ life such as Dys4ia, Mainichi, and Coming Out Simulator.

These thematic inspirations focused primarily on telling the story of day to day life or a specific story in the life of the creator and I wanted to make the game social. Where these games sought to elicit emotions through carefully crafted stories and writing, I wanted the experience to be more fluid and dynamic. Where these games created a feeling of isolation of the lone player, I wanted to create a feeling of isolation in a group.

I wanted my game mechanics to focus more on the interpersonal interactions. There’s an underlying dread of coming out that pervades every social interaction. Sometimes you have support and everything works out, sometimes you don’t and that world falls apart, and sometimes in your hour of need you run into someone else in the same position as you and you can prop each other up. I feel the social dynamic of turning it into a LARP system with simple mechanics worked well to create these settings. Additionally, by using a full deck of cards, I was able to capture the reality that you don’t know who people truly are until they tell you. In one game you could be gay and have everyone else reject you, or everyone else could support you. Life is random and risky, and I felt my mechanics did a good job of exploring this.

In my most successful play test, the one documented in the pictures, the game ended with the condition that two gay players find each other. This ending brought up a very interesting case where the mother was one of the gay players. This was ultimately a good thing as the system can be used to tell any number of coming out stories. You could tell the story of a teen coming to terms, or the story of a parent finally being able to express themselves while having an established family. Additionally, I like that my system can be re-skinned with new roles or by letting players make their own roles. If you wanted to tell the story of a workplace struggle, create characters for that setting.


The final game artifacts


Players split out into their different conversations

Changes Made Post-Documented Play Test

  1. The roles now have a family tree that shows how players are related based on their roles.
  2. Players may create their own roles and rules for how to do so are included.
  3. Players are now expected to pin their card for public visibility
  4. The role-playing aspect has been increased in that players are expected to reveal cards in context of the conversation whenever possible.
  5. The 2nd joker is now part of the 52 card deck, reducing the odds of 2 players having a joker, but still guaranteeing the existence of one in play at a time.



Players 5 – 10


  1. One standard deck of playing cards with 2 jokers
  2. Index cards and a way to attach the cards to players (lanyards, yarn, binder clips, clothespins, etc)
  3. Red and Black markers
  4. Printouts of the family tree


  1. Each player receives 1 colored role card at random or creates their own
    1. To create a role card, the player does the following:
      1. Comes up with the quick description for a family member (ex. “Fun Uncle”)
      2. Draw a card from the deck to determine if they are an Ally (red) or Non-Ally (black)
      3. Insert your character into the family tree
  2. Remove 1 joker from the deck and shuffle the other one into the deck
  3. Take the removed joker and (2n-1) cards from the deck where n is the number of players
  4. Shuffle and deal the cards out
  5. Each player looks at the 2 cards they were dealt and their public role and determines their team, keeping the information private
    1. Whichever color you have more of in your hand is your team
    2. Red = Ally, Black = Non-Ally
    3. If the player has a Joker, they are a closeted gay regardless of their other card or role


Game play

  1. The game consists of a series of 1 minute rounds
    1. The number of rounds is equal to the number of players
  2. Rounds work as follows, with each round lasting 1 minute:
    1. Players split off into smaller groups and have a fun in-character conversation. Players may not reject another player joining their group, after all you are family!
    2. Each player reveals ONE of their hidden cards to the other people in their group. This MAY be done accompanied by actions or words, or merely shown at the end of the round
      1. If you are The Gay, then coming out to another player involves revealing the joker. You do not have to reveal the joker if you do not feel comfortable doing so, but coming out to Ally players is the only way to win.
    3. They are also allowed to say anything about other players provided it is in-character
    4. If there are 2 Gay players, and both players have come out to each other (regardless of when), the game ends immediately with the “You are not alone” ending.
    5. If The Gay reveals a joker to you and you are a NON-ALLY, announce loudly that that player is not welcome here and that their “lifestyle choices” are not okay. The game ends immediately. Check “Ending the Game” to determine the winners
    6. NOTE: You reveal the card to the people you START the round with, though there is nothing stopping you from “eavesdropping” and spotting the card of someone else, though you may not call someone out if they are The Gay and you spot the card this way.

   3) After 10 rounds, players reveal their hands


Ending the Game

There are 4 possible endings:

  1. “We support you” – The ideal ending for The Gay. This ending is reached if either of the following is true, in which case The Gay has enough allies in the family to feel safe and comfortable and The Gay and Ally players win.
    1. The 10 rounds end and The Gay has revealed them self to at all of the Ally players
    2. A NON-ALLY calls The Gay out, and The Gay has revealed them self to at all of the Ally players
  2. “You are not alone” – The rarest ending, but a reassuring one. This ending is reached if there are 2 Gay players (both players have a joker) and at any point the 2 Gay players came out to each other.
  3. “Just a Phase” – A common enough excuse for people who experience a rough coming out and who must go back into the closet. In this ending, NON-ALLY players win
  4. “Maybe next year” – A neutral ending. This it the default ending and is reached if none of the above are triggered. The Gay may have come out to some but otherwise wasn’t comfortable coming out further. That’s okay, you can always tell more people over time. In this ending, no one wins.




  1. Strict father – In this house, it’s his rules or nothing.
  2. Immature Sibling (player’s gender) – Annoying and immature preteen, finds it fun to pester others
  3. Religious Grandma – Very preachy to the point of annoyance
  4. “Traditional” Grandpa – Talks about conservative values and how “back in my day…”
  5. Successful Cousin – Went to college on a full ride, got an internship with THE place to be



  1. Doting mother – The mother who wants everyone to be okay and happy
  2. Rebellious Teen (player’s gender) – Edgy and rebellious teenager, likely shops at Hot Topic
  3. Fun Uncle – The fun uncle, always has a good joke and a fun time
  4. Disaster Aunt – Where was she last night? Probably not even the same country as 2 nights ago, and even then she isn’t even sure because it’s a tiny bit fuzzy
  5. Outcast – No one invited them directly, they saw the facebook event and decided to show up after a few years of no contact. Oops

Indie/Art Game Show and Tell: Night in the Woods

The game I showed was Night in the Woods. Night in the Woods is a narrative driven game that uses platforming elements and mini-games to tell the story of Mae, a college dropout who is returning home to her dead end home town of Possum Springs. The story is full of delightful characters and story threads and expresses the feelings of returning home after being away to find that while things look the same on the surface, they really aren’t.

To me, this game is important as it expresses a lot of the feelings of being excluded and trying to fit back in when the place you call home has changed without you being there. As someone who went across the country for school and is moving to the opposite coast for a job after school, the feelings of missing home but also not really fitting in back home ring true. The moments of trying to relive the glory days but knowing that you aren’t a high school student anymore and it won’t last ring true to my own personal experiences.

Project 3: Intervention – RIP Diablo 4

Artist Statement:

My final iteration of my intervention piece was almost completely different from the original pitch. My original idea was to hold an in-game peace protest in World of Warcraft to make a statement against the perpetual faction conflict (originally inspired by the group who acted as the Red Cross in game by only healing players). However, this weekend was Blizzcon. At the convention 2 things happened: they revealed more information about the upcoming WoW patches that quelled my annoyance, and they announced a new Diablo game on mobile to booing from the crowd.

I was admittedly hopeful of the new mobile game, but as I learned more, I felt like the Diablo fans got cheated with an outsourced mobile-game re-skin as the “big Diablo news”. I don’t personally believe that Diablo 4 won’t happen, but I was disappointed with the lack of news and also wanted to express the frustration many of my friends were experiencing. I decided to pivot my protest about WoW inside WoW to a statement piece expressing the disappointment in the Diablo news. My piece was inspired by two main things: the Institute for Applied Autonomy’s graffiti writer, and emergent behavior in WoW where people use items to write messages on the ground.

My final piece was done in “feast graffiti” (writing messages using feast tables which would disappear around 10 minutes after they are placed but are otherwise impossible to remove without me doing so) and was attempting to show solidarity and support for the Diablo community as well as use another Blizzard game as a platform against Blizzard’s lackluster showing for one of its 20+ year old franchises. I took to the virtual streets in 3 different cities and plastered my message of “RIP D4” (Rest in Peace Diablo 4) on the digital cobblestone.

The first city was Stormwind, the Alliance capital city. I put my message in front of the auction house due to its high traffic volume. This initial showing attracted a small crowd and a few people laughing and making meme jokes about Blizzard’s responses such as “don’t you all have phones?”

After Stormwind, I went to Dalaran, the main hub of the previous expansion where both Horde and Alliance share spaces. I set up outside the Horde quarter by people and actually had a couple people walk over to see what I was spelling. When I was done I posed at the top of my art and people were talking about it. One person even emoted cheering for me.

Finally, I took to Boralus Harbor, the main Alliance hub for the current expansion. This was the most crowded spot and I immediately set about writing my message right through the middle of the crowd. People moved out of the way as they saw me approach so I could write more clearly. This one got the loudest response in game even if it was still pretty quiet and full of memes.

My message was seen and that was that; or so I thought. I woke up the next day to find someone had taken a screenshot of the message and posted it on Reddit (something I made the decision not to do myself as I was content with the small bits of approval I did receive). The post was the 3rd most popular post 13 hours after it was posted, with 5.8k upvotes and 556 comments. After 22 hours the post had 6.6k upvotes and 671 comments. The comments range from people memeing about the Diablo Immortal announcement, to people making well written cases for why mobile was bad for PR and also people calling the Diablo players “entitled”. The reddit post can be found here:


Ultimately, I am proud of how my intervention lived on past my initial graffiti. I really appreciate that other random people who agreed with the sentiment I was expressing also became vocal and spread the art of my intervention.



Project 2 – Magical Canvas

Artist Statement

My game appropriates the art in Magic: The Gathering cards. I love the art of MTG cards, but during normal game play the art doesn’t serve a functional purpose. I took some influence from Richard Prince’s cowboy picture in which he cut the text out of the cigarette add to make a nice picture. I took inspiration from this in deciding that ignoring the text on the cards and only looking at the art was the goal of the game. I did not feel like it was worth cutting out the art as by leaving the art in the card frame makes the game playable by anyone with magic cards and means you can use any cards without worrying about ruining their monetary value. I also think the act of deliberately having to ignore the normally important text brings the contrast between my game and standard game play. This further highlights that his is not normal use for the cards. 

The game is also made cooperative as the idea of taking a medium normally used for competitive play is a worthwhile contrast to make. Collages and tapestries are often collaborative works and represent a shared story. I took inspiration from Hausmann, Baader and Hoch and their photo montages in the Munich Dada scene. Though they didn’t make collaborative works, the montages are collections of pictures or words that make new pieces of art and appropriate other pieces of art. The end result of playing “Magical Canvas” is a montage of magic cards that tell a story. It takes many different artists and puts their work together into a new story.

I think my chosen appropriated material works well for my game and my purpose. Many people have some amount of Magic cards around their house, and this gives these old, often forgotten, cards a purpose. By giving the cards that most people toss aside as bulk commons and uncommons a new meaning, my game gives people something to play that uses all of their cards by re-framing how you use them. Both play tests of my game led to wild and unpredictable stories, and the ad-lib nature of the stories it makes lets them be free and honest expressions.

Play test overviews:


The first play test led to some on the spot rules changes from the original rules. The group came together and told a story of the bugle rock concert led by lead bugle player Johanes and his tree drummer Kimmothy. The cops showed up and shut it down with their sniper and the attendees scattered while the place burned down. One of the fans, Jeremy, joined the cops and fought a burning Kimothy until Johanes came to save the day. Johanes and Jeremy experiences a flash forward in a moment of hesitation in which they saw their future child and then rode off into the sunset to get married.


The second play test started with the burning of the flowers by the flower hating king. A dragon appeared and helped burn things but a brave fire-immune knight showed up and beat the dragon with a spear of flame. Her wife showed up to congratulate her and was immediately killed in the next card in a true “bury your gays” moment. I ended up losing track of the story as multiple plot thread then appeared and the group jumped from story to story within this world all branching from the original setting.


Final rules

Magical Canvas



  • 1 deck of magic cards of at least 60 cards with no lands
    • Each player may bring a small deck of 30+ cards for personal use, but there must be a shared deck for the table.
  • 5 different land cards


Preparing the Deck

  1. Take bulk magic cards
  2. Pick at least 60 cards with art you like
    1. If you would like to have artistic consistency for your game, pick cards from the same set or block. Feel free to mix and match as you please.
  3. Put them into a deck without any lands
  4. Shuffle the deck


Preparing the Tapestry

  1. Shuffle the 5 land cards
  2. Place them face down on the table in any arrangement with no two cards touching
  3. As a group, decide on which card to flip face up. This is the starting location of the story



  1. Everyone draws 5 cards from either the shared deck or their own personal deck
  2. Starting with the player who has most recently taken a picture for social media, play progresses to the right
  3. When it is your turn and before you play a card from your hand, you may put on card onto the bottom of the deck and draw a new one
  4. Place 1 card from your hand onto the tapestry
  5. If the card is touching a face down card, flip it face up
  6. Using only the art on your card, describe what new part of the story the art represents. You must incorporate any cards that it is touching into the story.
  7. When you are done telling the next part of the story, draw a card and play passes to the next player.

Ending the Game:

The game is over when you finish the story. Take a picture of the canvas to remember the story and then shuffle all the cards back up returning them to their original owners.

Tips for Storytelling

  1. Follow the “yes and” rule. Don’t take your turn to subtract from the story. Use each turn to add new elements.
  2. The art represents some part of the story. Just because the actual character in the art may not be the same between two cards, you can take artistic liberty and decide that it IS the same character



Iteration Process:


Originally I wanted to mimic how tabletop RPGs have a GM style character and wanted to create someone to act as the DM. However, when we got into storytelling it didn’t pan out well and the natural evolution of the story flowed better when everyone had the same power over the story. Additionally, rules to discard and draw once during your turn were added to help rotate cards out of your hand based on how the story was going. Instead of having to have a “dump” round, it became apparent that players should be able to discard a card. If I were to iterate on the discard mechanic again, I think I’d like to test revealing the card you wanted to discard and if someone could add it to the story on the spot in a clever way, they get to draw an additional card to increase their hand size. With this change I’d like to test 3 card hands with the ability to grow up to 5 or 6 cards. Overall, I think removing the “adversary” role made for a better experience and led to more fun and creative stories.



Original draft


A game for 2-5 players



  • 1 Communal Deck of Magic: The Gathering (MTG) Cards
  • 1 Adversary Deck (A smaller deck of MTG cards)
  • 1 of Each Basic Land Type (Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain and Forest)
  • Each player may instead bring their own deck of cards to use in place of the community deck


Preparing the Communal Deck:

  1. Grab a bulk box of MTG cards
  2. Looking only at the art of the cards, pick a variety of characters, creatures and spells.
  3. For thematic consistency, pick cards from the same set/block. Picking cards from different sets/blocks can be used to create mash-up worlds and stories.
  4. The deck should be curated down to no more than 60 cards, and should not include land cards


Preparing the Adversary Deck:

  1. Grab a bulk box of MTG cards or an existing themed deck (Commander decks work well for this, especially ones that follow a theme)
  2. Looking only at the art of the cards, pick a group of creatures and spells to represent the trials in the story.
  3. The deck should be curated down to no more than 15 cards.


Preparing the Canvas:

  1. Pick 5 land cards to act as settings. Shuffle them together
  2. Place them face down in any shape you please
  3. As a group, pick one face down card to be the starting setting and flip it face up



  1. The host of the game draws 3 cards from the adversary deck
  2. Each other player draws 5 from the communal deck (or from their own deck)
  3. Play starts with the host.



  1. On your turn, play a card from your hand onto the canvas.
    1. The text on the card does not matter, only the card art needs to be taken into consideration.
    2. The card must be touching a currently face up card.
  2. If the card touches a face down card, turn that card face up.
  3. Expand on the current story by describing what happened when you played your card. The story must include the story events from all cards it currently touches.
  4. When you are done with your addition to the canvas, draw a card from the appropriate deck (communal if a player, adversary if a host).
  5. Story control passes to the right.


Ending the Game:

  1. The game is over when either the adversary deck is empty, or the story has reached a satisfying conclusion.
  2. Take a picture of the canvas you created as you told your story.
  3. Shuffle all the cards together and return them to their original owner.


Tips for Placing Cards:

  1. The character on the card does not matter if you are not using it to establish a character.For example, if you had a knight and then a card showing a different knight fighting a monster, you can tell the story as if they are the same character
  2. Use the position of the cards to help you tell the story. For example, if you could use a card depicting a sword to arm a knight, or you could turn it upside down and “stab” the knight with it.
  3. Follow the “Yes and” rule of improv. Always build onto the story instead of undoing whatever was done most recently.

Food Piece

Prepare the ingredients for, but do not assemble, a putter butter and jelly sandwich.

Lay bare your feet on the ground.

Clasp your hands behind your back.

Do not move your hands from behind your back.

Make the sandwich.


Fall, 2018


Recorded Performance:


Artist’s statement:

Food Piece is a score that encourages the performer to interact with the world in a new way. My main inspiration for the piece is Yoko Ono’s Syllable Piece. The idea of experiencing life without the use of an arbitrary syllable sounded crazy and absurd, but it stuck in my head and forced me to think how many syllables I use on a daily basis. How would I communicate if I lost a super common syllable like “ing” or “ly”? How would it be different if I gave up “xy”? Like Ono, I sought to challenge the user to imagine living life without something they use everyday: our hands. Our hands are our primary means of acting on the work around us, and I wanted to toy with the idea of asking the performers to not only consider what life would be like if we had no access to our hands or arms, but to experience it through the lens of a daily task. I felt asking the performer to accomplish a task without hands would bring the sense of activity that I personally enjoy about Ono’s scores while still staying true to the idea of losing something commonplace.

Making a sandwich was chosen as it is a low-risk, low-cost food item and feeding ourselves is one of the main tasks in our day. The type of sandwich chosen – peanut butter and jelly – was chosen for the difficulty of making it (though incidentally it also serves as a tribute to Kaprow’s use of jam in his pieces). We think of making a PB&J as a very simple sandwich, but it is only as easy as the tools we have to make it. Without a knife, or other spreading tool, making the sandwich is nigh impossible. However, through this piece, we see that not only do we rely on tools to perform our daily tasks, but  also that when we take away our primary means of interacting with the world, those tools become useless and attempting to rely on them can actually get in the way.

Food also is an important medium for play. Just as Fluxus artists wanted to play with the world around them and make people think or experience the world in a new and unique way, I wanted the performer to have the option to play with the food and get messy. The peanut butter and jelly helps to reinforce that messiness as once it gets on your foot, it stays there. However, as the performer begins to play with their food (something we as a society deem “bad manners”), a new method of interacting with the sandwich materials opens. From my personal experience with this piece, the moment I chose to play with the food (which is when I scraped the peanut butter off the knife) was when the task went from somewhat frustrating and absurd to playful and fun. Making that choice to get messy made my task a lot easier. I gave up on even thinking about using the knife on the jelly and instead dove right in with my foot. In the moment it’s a very odd decision, because you know getting messy isn’t permanent, but there were also lingering thoughts of “how will I get to the bathroom to wash my feet”, “oh no, I’m going to have to clean up any sticky footprints on the ground” and “the rest of the food will be ruined.”

Ultimately, I think my score ended up rather fun and is a playful way to challenge the performer to take a hands-off approach to a common, everyday task. I think it’s important that my piece does not specify the method the performer uses to assemble the sandwich, only that they must keep their hands clasped together. It encourages creative thinking and playfulness as the performer interacts with this common object.


Design comments:


Original Draft:

Food Piece

Take off your footwear

Take off your socks

Clasp your hands behind your back. Do not let go

Make a PB&J sandwich

You may make any type of sandwich as an alternative


My original draft said nothing about preparing the ingredients. Without the explicit instruction, I found myself not having thought far enough ahead in my own work and ended up with the still tied bread, sealed peanut butter, and closed jar of jelly when I first clasped my hands together. This ended up with my fussing about trying to uncap the jelly before realizing that I wasn’t able to do it. This was my major issue with my original draft, and I added a line to the beginning to specify preparing the ingredients but not making the sandwich. Additionally, I wanted to make the language a bit more concise about the language with regards to taking off footwear.

The final draft was tested in class by Abby who volunteered to perform the score. Things of note in the in class performance were that both she and I took the same order on building the sandwich, we both experimented with using the knife until eventually deciding that using our feet worked better, and that when the sandwich was done Abby took it a step further and gave it a fancy triangle cut.

The first major issue encountered in the first draft was being unable to open the bag or jars.


Pictures of Abby’s performance at various stages