Artwork #4: Work and Personal Life

The Game

The emotional experience the game and its mechanics are meant to convey is the feeling of being in a failing relationship, and knowing you’re in it, but trying to hide those feelings away and lie to yourself that the relationship is fine. The game is played by the player receiving a letter from their character’s long-distance partner each day. After reading the letter, the player “goes to work” by filling out sticky notes of emails, code snippets, and art assets. While doing this, however, the player must also handle their anxieties and mental state by also catching their anxieties in a digital game to hide them from their brain in an attempt to convince themselves that their relationship is in better shape than it is. As the days go on, the letters hint at more and more issues, and the anxieties begin to fall at faster and faster rates, distracting the player more and more. The goal is to complete as much work as possible each day in the given time limit, and to keep their confidence level above zero (this level goes down with missed anxieties). If a player’s confidence does hit zero, they must stop working for the day to deal with their emotions. Any missed work could result in a pay deduction by their boss. The game ends with the relationship ending, but as a result the player can focus solely on their work without the distraction of their anxieties, which represents the weight lifted from them by not having to deal with the pressure of an unhealthy relationship any longer.

The Inspiration

This game was heavily inspired by the games Every Day The Same Dream and the Cannery scene of What Remains of Edith Finch. In Every Day The Same Dream, the player-character goes through the “same” day of work in a cycle unless they perform specific actions that break that cycle, much like how in this game the player is doing the same menial tasks every day of work. In the cannery level of What Remains of Edith Finch, the player is shown through mechanics the feeling and experience of performing a menial physical task over and over again to the point where their mind can wander into much more detailed, complex tasks, just as how in this game the player is repeating the same basic actions for their work while the intensity of handling their anxieties ramps up as they go along. The game was also inspired by Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece, in the sense that the experience becomes more stressful and intense as it goes on longer and longer, and that the piece is a very personal interaction between the player and the artist. I played a role in the game as the player’s boss, and the game is pseudo-autobiographical, which opens the player up to experiences and feelings I’ve been familiar with before.

The Materials

Like many ready-mades and flux-kits, many of the elements of this game were pre-made objects that needed only slight interaction from the player. Letters that needed only to be read, sticky notes requiring only a signature or a drawing. The digital element was the only thing I had to create from scratch, but even then the main mechanic of catching falling objects is a simple thing many games include in some capacity. I wanted the pieces to feel genuine and purposeful. As can be seen in the pictures of the letters, as the days go on the letters become less and less heartfelt and the materials used to write them become cheaper and cheaper, representing the partner’s waning interest in the relationship.

The Results

The player’s experience was as close to the target as possible. The player said they had been in an experience similar to what the game was mirroring, and said the mechanics very accurately expressed the emotional feeling of being in a failing relationship and trying to cope with that fact.


Playing the game.

The letters.

The final piece of “work.”

The digital component.

Artwork #4: Struggling Relationship

I want to create a small digital game about struggling with being in a failing/destructive relationship. I want the game to focus specifically on a building feeling of chaos and anguish while attempting to still perform normal actions to keep a feeling of normality, like how people sometimes try to convince themselves a relationship is in a better state than it is. The main games I’m taking inspiration from are Every Day the Same Dream, and What Remains of Edith Finch (specifically the cannery scene). Both of these games deal with the evolution of performing the same standard actions over and over, but Edith Finch also focuses on the idea of underlying thoughts and actions becoming more complex and meaningful, which is the kind of feeling I want to inspire with the game. I want this game to use regular, standard, every day activities and objects, like many of the games and pieces (such as ready-mades and games like White Chess) for the standard actions, but then a more psychological, hidden thought-process for the building complexity in the character’s mind like Edith Finch. This is to inspire through mechanics the feeling of going through the mundane every day motions of a failing relationship while feeling the emotional toll build up alongside those standard actions.

Artwork #3, Intervention: Waste Not, Want Not

I changed my original idea of using a dining hall to instead using a grocery store, in this case Target. The main idea of the game has stayed the same, though: make a number of calories with as few items as possible.

The goal of the game now is specifically to gather as few items as possible to make at least 1000 total calories.

Each player or team is given 4 minutes to go through the store and find their items. Players are not allowed to use food items that could be qualified as desserts (cakes, cookies, ice cream, etc). If a player does not make it back to the designated area in 4 minutes, the other player gets to select an item from the late player’s basket at random and remove it from the counting. If both players get back in time and have the same number of items and got at least 1000 calories, then whoever is closer to 1000 (i.e. has fewer calories) is the winner. The loser must then buy the winner a grocery item up to $10 (or whatever is financially feasible for that person at the time). All food items that are not being purchased must be put back. Isaac won this round because my items added up to 1,230 calories while his only added up to 1,090.

The point of this piece/game is to show how much food bought at stores ends up getting wasted due to over-buying and negligence. Many food items purchased at grocery stores end up going bad in refrigerators, and this game is meant to show how people could much more efficiently plan out their food purchases based on necessary calories and nutritional value if they paid more attention to calorie count and expiration dates.


Indie/Art Game Show and Tell: Subsurface Circular

Subsurface Circular is a text-based adventure game lead by designer Mike Bithell of Thomas Was Alone fame. The game follows the story of a robotic detective taking the subway in a city filled with millions of these robots, or “Teks” that serve different jobs for human masters. The main Tek learns that other Teks are going missing, possibly being kidnapped, or worse. Theta, the main Tek, decides to investigate these disappearances, but all while on the subsurface circular (the titular subway system). The player uses dialogue choices and special detective abilities for Theta’s specific android model in order to link together clues gathered from different sources and to solve puzzles. The game’s story also deals with issues and topics of agency, control, truth, and justice, and does all of this using only text-based gameplay with no visible human characters.


Original Version

In the original version of Shot-Pong-Chip, players take turns placing chips in the shot glasses. When they make a row of 3 continuous chips, they get one point. When they make a row of 4, they get two points. Each point gave the player access to one pong ball which they could use to block off shot glasses without having to “take a drink” (metaphorically, not literally). When the player “takes eight drinks,” they “black out” and must stop playing. The player with the most points wins.

New Version

The new version increased the power of the pong balls to inspire players to remember they do not have to drink every turn and to add more tactical choices to the game. Each player starts with 3 pong balls, and gains one extra one if they gain a point. This ball, if chosen to be used, is taken from a cup in front of the player, which gives them access to the ball but also opens up another shot glass to use on the board. As it plays similarly to a large tic-tac-toe, more chances to actually lock off board spaces allows interesting strategies.


I wanted to create something that purposely played with known game mechanics and some game pieces. Similar to Yoko Ono’s piece White Chess, I wanted to have people feel familiar enough with the mechanics, and in some cases the pieces, but used in a different context than they were used to. The game is designed in a way that creates stalemates and/or so that players that choose not to drink much usually lose. This fits into the theme of the game which comments on America’s binge-drinking culture and how nobody truly “wins” in this culture. Because of this, the items of disposable shot glasses, beer pong balls, and poker chips are used in order to drive home the point of collegiate drinking patterns which usually leave people sick, miserable, or in dangerous situations. I purposely chose objects that are used commonly in “drinking games” in order to make a game about drinking, but not one in which the player is recommended to drink. I was somewhat inspired by the idea of “readymades” by using easily obtainable items that were already in form to be used, all they needed was to be put together in the correct context for this game. This also draws from different appropriative Flux-kits which commonly used approrpiated objects in order to present a sometimes game-like artpiece all in one box.

Appropriation Show and Tell — Hamilton

The musical Hamilton hit the broadway world as an iconic historical revisionist masterpiece. Through its varied themes and multicultural cast, the show’s goal was to tell the story of the American Revolution through the lens of America today, both in the flawed ways we view some of these flawed people, and in how these figures were rockstars of their own kind during their lives. The show not only appropriates the story of the revolution, it directly appropriates many of the events of Alexander Hamilton’s life, directly citing his own work in two songs, Farmer Refuted (based on his work The Farmer Refuted), and The Reynolds Pamphlet (based on the book of the same name). Both of these songs take the themes of Hamilton’s writing, and the impact these writings had on his life, and translate them musically. The show also appropriates and references much of hip-hop and rap culture in specific lines. When Hamilton spells out his own name, he does it in a way reminiscent of the Notorious BIG. Hamilton almost directly quotes a Mobb Deep line, “I’m only 19 but my mind is old” simply replacing the last word with “older.” Many of these appropriations are peppered throughout the show and relate to the impact these artists and songs had on creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. The show has also taken on an almost self-appropriative nature, as there is also a book describing the creation and lyrics of the show (seen below), and an entire other album called The Hamilton Mixtape, which appropriates lines and parts of the show and recontextualizes them into a more traditional, politically-charged rap album.



Speak to your bedroom wall

When finished, tell it that it will never understand your pain

Ask it why you’re paying it an hourly rate

Take a photo of the wall

Send the photo to your parent or guardian

Call them once they’ve seen the photo, avoid talking about the photo


My inspiration for this score came mainly from two sources. The first were Yoko Ono’s own scores in Grapefruit which involved performing a fairly intimate personal action, then taking the results of that action and sharing them with someone, but not drawing attention to the action. One example is a score involving finding a stone roughly the size of yourself, grinding it down, and delivering the powder to a friend but not explaining what the powder is. The other source of inspiration came from my own experiences and observations that, while most people (arguably especially in college) could benefit from speaking with a therapist, most of those people either are too self-conscious to do so or refuse to for other personal reasons. Because of this many people in times of need look to their friends and/or family for support, however sometimes those conversations can feel as though you are speaking to a brick wall depending on how responsive your supporter is. So through these sources of inspiration, I formed the instructions of the score. I purposefully left the instructions on what to talk about with the wall and how long to talk to the wall open to allow participants to speak however long and about whatever subject they wanted. When I spoke to the wall it started fairly normally (as normally as speaking to a wall can be) but then eventually did become more personal. When I was satisfied I took a picture and sent it to my father. I waited a bit until I could see him starting to respond, then immediately called him to speak with him. He initially did not ask about the wall, but near the end he asked if I had meant to send the picture and I said I did, and he seemed confused and curious but I avoided a straight answer of what the wall meant. It definitely created a confusion and almost a tension in the conversation, but we made it through the whole call without directly speaking about it. The experience was interesting and I think was fairly successful for what I wanted it to inspire and simulate in terms of the awkward tension of avoiding a potentially serious topic hanging in the air. The photos attached show pictures of myself speaking to the wall, the picture of the wall I took, the message I sent to my father and the call I had with him.