‘Childhood’ is a short abstract game in which you play as a small green dot collecting other, smaller red dots. The controls are as minimal as it gets- simply move your mouse to drive the green dot agonizingly slowly towards each dot with no real purpose or goal aside from collecting dots to earn points. At the top of the screen is a clock that starts at zero and counts up as you play, giving the impression that the game simply never ends. The twist? ‘Childhood’ does end, but it takes seventy-five years of real time to complete (that is, if you were to play it normally.) After a few minutes, you are introduced to the main mechanic- you have the ability to hold the spacebar and fast forward time. Doing so allows you to see the game develop into something different as the hours, days, and years fly by in a matter of seconds. Slowly your objective morphs from simply ‘collect dots’ and becomes increasingly complex and hectic. It’s up to the player to decide how long they want to play each section of the game, or if they’d like to skip it almost entirely and see the next section. 

Artist’s Statement

This game began as a simple, and probably very relatable, thought that I had- “I really miss being a kid. Things were so simple back then.” Becoming an adult is pretty fun, don’t get me wrong, but when you stop and think about how easy and fun your life was as a little kid compared to the stress and responsibilities of college life- homework, job search, finances, etc… It seems like that period in time is almost idyllic. The funny thing, of course, is that when you are living that part of your life, you pretty much want nothing more than to grow up as fast as possible. Each new age seems like a milestone, something to ‘conquer’ and be treated more like a grown-up. From this juxtaposition the idea took shape- life is like a game that seems boring while you play it, but in retrospect, you wish you had stopped and enjoyed those ‘boring’ moments more than you really did. Presentation-wise, I took inspiration from Art Games such as “The Marriage,” which sought to represent the concept of cooperation and role within a marriage using abstract visual art and simple gameplay. I found this to be very effective in bringing my own idea to life- wanting to use things like the size of the player and their movement speed to imply things about the different stages in a person’s life. 

If you’re reading this, I think you should really just play the game before I spoil everything- but I’ll go ahead and explain my thought process behind some of the mechanics/design choices and what they were meant to represent. The clock, of course, is a human lifespan (that is, the average American lifespan is about 75 years.) I thought it would be really interesting to be able to experience an entire life on ‘fast forward,’ watching them slowly get bigger (grow up), get faster (have more energy and drive), before finally regressing (getting old) and coming to a complete stop at the end of their life. The various stages were meant to increase in complexity, and despite being more ‘engaging’ than the gameplay at the very start (which represents a person’s childhood), will quickly grow overwhelming and impossible to manage during the final stages in which you are effectively forced to lose all your points. 


I’m mostly very happy with how it turned out- I think the visuals and sound design were especially good. I think if I had had more time, I would have liked to improve the gameplay progression a bit more to push the ‘overwhelming’ feeling I was going for towards the end of the game. What I have now is successful, but I think that it still feels more monotonous than it does stressful in the final stages and I could have improved that design. 

Tools/Assets used:

  • Unity Engine/Visual Studio w/ C# language
  • Aseprite (UI graphics)
  • (game font)
  • (BG music & sound effects, all were creative commons 0)

Download on

(You will need to use the password GAME1850 to access the page.)

Intervention: The Northeastern ARG


My intervention project was a Northeastern ARG, or ‘alternate reality game.’ These typically involve using real-world locations or settings and creating a fictitious narrative for players to follow. A lot of times these games involve puzzle-solving, and thus a mysterious and intriguing element is almost tradition for these types of experiences. I decided to follow suit and create a short puzzle game that would take place on campus, with players tasked to uncover data about a supposed “Northeastern Conspiracy” that is hidden somewhere on campus using clues posted in different locations to track it down. 


Two locations near to each other on campus were identified, and this is where the ‘clue’ pages were left. I wanted to keep the number of clues needed to solve the puzzle to an absolute minimum so that students passing by would potentially be more interested in playing the ARG as it would be over very quickly. The ‘A’ page contained a key with letters corresponding to numbers and symbols:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 ! ^ $ % * ( ) & + [
a r s g t h y l r f o m e d i n c u b k

Meanwhile, the ‘B’ page contained the location of the data itself, but encoded using this key: 

!2^$ 56% 97-%9 6188 3*4( 5&9( 9*465 1(- 6%1- 1)2^33 56% 359%%5 5^ 56% 5188 42133 12^&(- 56% 3*-% ^! +%621[*3 56% -151 *3 6*–%( *( 56% 42133

In addition to the piece of the clue, the two types of pages would each list the location of the other type of page, meaning that regardless of which page was found first a player would know where they needed to go to make their end of the puzzle work. Put together, the two clues would reveal the following sentence: “From the Ryder Hall sign, turn right and head across the street to the tall grass around the side of Behrakis. The data is hidden in the grass.” Just as the clue states, the ‘data’ (which itself was a piece of paper with text on it) was hidden outside in a weatherproof bag for players to eventually find. 

The paper itself contained an absurd description of the process of paying tuition to the school, described in a way that made it sound like criminal activity. However, it was revealed at the end that this was all a joke and part of my ARG to avoid any unintentional distress or people taking my game more seriously than it was meant. 

Artists Statement:

Certain in-class examples, such as the Barbie Liberation Organization, created scenarios where a false ‘narrative’ was created by intervening in a real-life space. In that instance, a fiction that the toys themselves were rebelling against their company was created using the setting of real stores in a manner that interacted with real people. While my ARG was more interactive than this- I was still inspired to try and use the ARG to facilitate my own fictional narrative. I wanted to create a tongue-in-cheek parody of the idea that there was a conspiracy going on at Northeastern that poked fun at some of the most common student complaints about the University. In this way, it acted as a very small form of protest while simultaneously being an absurd narrative that somehow there was an organization dedicated to uncovering the secrets that players could interact with throughout the game. 

Unfortunately, in my attempts to set it up on campus, I was stopped by student employees at Northeastern both times I tried to put up my posters at my planned locations- unfortunately preventing me from seeing the results of my intervention as I had originally intended. In hindsight, I should have planned to put them in locations that were more free for students to put up posters but I am inherently limited by what I’m allowed to do on campus- and it is possible this project wasn’t feasible given the time I would need to coordinate it with the school. I was also concerned about player participation in my game, and whether or not anyone would take the time to do it. I think had I planned a wider setup of my posters this and the previous problem could have been alleviated.


Here are some photos of me attempting to put up the posters and hide the clue:

Chess D&D


My project appropriates chess and D&D by combining the two, where three players and a DM play out a game of Chess involving role-playing and other D&D mechanics that are far too complex for chess. Three players will each receive character sheets (Pawn, Knight, and Bishop), with various attributes crudely changed to fit Chess closer. The game’s ‘map’ will be a standard chess board (a parody of the maps used in typical D&D) that the players will be able to see and make their movements using the board as intended.


Like standard DND, there is an out-of-combat and in-combat phase. Out of combat, players may move freely and interact with any NPCs they would like. In this phase, squares on the board represent an area of 5×5 feet in the game world. All pieces have a ‘viewing range’ of 1 square around them. If you speak or do something outside this range, unless you attempt to make it widely visible, that action will be unseen by all pieces not within a 3×3 grid around you. Additionally, while out of combat up to 3 pieces may share a single square. 

When a combat encounter begins, players roll for initiate and take turns in typical DND fashion. On their turn, players can take combat actions like standard 5e (move and/or attack), however moving is special in that during combat, players are restricted to moving only how their piece is able to move in a game of chess.  Other than this, the rules are identical to 5e.


The opposing black and white kingdoms are on the verge of war. Three players assume the roles of three white pieces as they attempt to end the conflict one way or the other. Black pawns are on the move, and all looks grim. However, maybe violence is not the answer, and there is a peaceful resolution to this after all? 

DM ONLY: (Players will only be able to see the board and know their starting positions. I used this board as well as the corresponding graph to keep track of characters and who was who.)

  • Player 1 (Pawn)
  • Player 2 (Knight)
  • Player 3 (Bishop) 
  • Nervous White Pawn 1
      1. Very nervous about the war and secretly doesn’t want to fight. 
  • Nervous White Pawn 2
      1. Very nervous about the war and secretly doesn’t want to fight. 
  • Neutral White Pawn 1
      1. Nervous, but loyal and wants to do their duty. 
  • Neutral White Pawn 2
      1. Nervous, but loyal and wants to do their duty. 
  • Neutral White Pawn 3
      1. Nervous, but loyal and wants to do their duty. 
  • Neutral White Pawn 4
      1. Nervous, but loyal and wants to do their duty. 
  • Nervous White Pawn 3
      1. Very nervous about the war and secretly doesn’t want to fight. 
  • Loyal Rook 1 
      1. Fiercely loyal to the King and won’t stand for any treason or slight towards the king. 
  • White King
      1. Very prideful and unwilling to admit that there is any other way than violence. Sees any disrespect to his flawed thinking as treasonous. 
  • White Queen 
    1. Secretly a pacifist, but wants to support the king despite his flaws. Might be convinced that violence isn’t the answer if given a good enough alternate plan. 


Example Character Stats:

  • Pawn (underappreciated footsoldier)
    • Movement: 1 Space Forward*
    • Alignment: Lawful Good
    • Health: 8
    • AC: 11
    • Attributes:
      • Strength: 14 (+2)
      • Dexterity: 12 (+1)
      • Constitution: 14 (+2)
      • Intelligence: 10 (0)
      • Wisdom: 10 (0)
      • Charisma: 10 (0)
    • Skill Modifiers: 
      • Athletics (+4)
      • History (+2)
      • Insight (+2)
      • Survival (+2)
    • Attacks:
      • Capture (uses STR/DEX), 1d6 + 2 damage. [Must be 1 space diagonally to the left or right of the pawn.] 
    • Abilities/Spells:
      • *Haste (on your first turn in combat, you may move 2 spaces forward instead of one.) 
  • Rook (experienced mercenary) 
    • Movement: Unlimited spaces orthogonally (unless blocked)
    • Alignment: Lawful Neutral
    • Health: 18
    • AC: 14
    • Attributes:
      • Strength: 16 (+3)
      • Dexterity: 10 (0)
      • Constitution: 14 (+2)
      • Intelligence: 10 (0)
      • Wisdom: 12 (+1)
      • Charisma: 10 (0)
    • Skill Modifiers:
      • Athletics (+5)
      • Insight (+3)
      • Intimidation (+2)
      • Religion (+2)
    • Attacks:
      • Capture (uses STR/DEX), 2d6 damage. [Must be along the movement path. Goes to target to perform attack.]  
    • Abilities/Spells: (3 spell slots)


Artists Statement:

Seeing the many examples of appropriating existing video games to create new experiences shown in class, I knew that I wanted to create a game that embodied the absurd nature of some of these games- ‘PacManhatten’ and ‘Out Run’ come to mind. Particularly, the idea of creating a game that combined two existing games that had nothing to do with each other seemed like a great opportunity to make a comical and original project. Drawing inspiration from ‘DMPacMan,’ I similarly wanted to find two games that seemed completely incompatible on paper and come up with a hybrid- and thus the idea for Chess D&D was born. Just as PacMan and Unreal Tournament contrast each other so starkly, the idea of the in-depth combat and role-playing of Dungeons & Dragons being used to frame a simple game of chess seemed like a properly absurd idea. 

In playtesting, I found that players responded well to even the basic absurdity of the idea from the start, which led to more fun attempting to work within such an outlandish and silly premise for a D&D campaign. I’m happy with the overall player experience, however, I do feel that the board itself, while a novelty to use in the context of a D&D map as intended, makes the free-form interaction with the world that D&D normally offers significantly more difficult. It was a challenge in all my playtests to decide on how players were allowed to move outside of combat given that I wanted to balance actual playability while maintaining the fact that they were chess pieces that could only move how they were able to move in a standard game of Chess. It also might have helped the experience overall if I had a true chess board, but as I didn’t own one I had to make an imitation board with paper. 


Score: Making a game that isn’t fun

By Luca Sandoval

This is a game. It’s supposed to be fun. Here’s what you need to play it:

  1. A deck of face-down rule cards (provided.) 
  2. A large handful of coins (not provided, obviously.)

The rules are very simple. 

  1. There are two players. They each take turns flipping a coin, calling heads or tails before it lands.
  2. The person who guesses correctly gets a point.
  3. The first to one thousand points wins. 

If at any point during the game you decide you aren’t having fun, feel free to draw the top card from the pile of rule cards. This should help make the game more fun. 


(This section is not a part of the score.)

The rule cards provided are small pieces of paper that have the following messages, in order:

  1. New rule: Correctly calling the coin is now worth 10 points, but if you get it wrong, you lose a point instead. 
  2. New rule: Each player can recruit another player as their additional team member. Those two players also flip a coin, and the points they either win or lose belong to the team.  
  3. New rule: Each team should recruit three more players. At this point, it’s probably worth establishing some kind of team organizational structure. The original player is the ‘team captain,’ of course, but you should ask the new hires how they feel about that. They may choose to assist your cause, or not, I suppose. 
  4. New rule: Add all of the coins you have left to the game. Coins are now valuable, maybe even more valuable than points (that isn’t currently clear). After all, at the end of the day, you have to put food on the table and keep the lights on, and points aren’t going to pay those bills. As a secondary requirement for victory besides reaching one thousand points, your team should also ensure they are financially better off than the other team by the end of the game. 
  5. New rule: The team members have unionized. Team captains should have seen this coming. They all demand to be paid a fair wage in coins and won’t keep playing until those demands are met. As a new requirement for victory on top of the old ones, negotiate a fair contract with the team members. 
  6. New rule: There’s been an economic recession. Everybody is hit hard, none more so than the innocent coin-flipping industry. Inflation has skyrocketed and coins and now next to worthless. You can sell back your team’s coins to the bank for fifty points each, which seems like an okay deal. However, as a consequence of the recession, the new requirement for winning is one hundred thousand points. 
  7. New rule: There’s really no point in playing games anymore given the state of the economy. 


My score was largely inspired by some of the works we saw relating to chess, and how artists in this movement would create twists on games that made them nearly impossible to play- and in the process allowed for the players to find their own fun using a broken ruleset. One that came to mind for my design was Yoko Ono’s White Chess Set, which featured an entirely white chessboard. This seems to make the game impossible to play, but in playing it I imagined that it might be its own sort of fun to attempt to remember which pieces were your own, or maybe just forgo the original rules altogether and simply play around with the broken ruleset. My score attempts to capture this energy by starting with a simple ruleset and slowly adding mechanics that derail it more and more until players are forced to find their own fun in the chaos. I also wanted the playing experience to be funny over anything else, thus the increasing absurdity of the rules.   

I was able to test my score two separate times, so it went through several revisions before the final. I was happy with the humor element of the score, as I feel in both cases the absurdity of the rules led to players creating comical situations, such as ‘firing’ their team leader or stealing/hoarding all the coins for their team. I do think that this score could be a bit more open-ended than the version I provided, and while I like the idea of the scenarios I’m providing for players (as a vehicle to create further comedy), it might be worth exploring a version of the game with less specific steps and punchlines while still maintaining the spirit of the score.