Lexie Zarow


Play my game here:


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3xdiarykind is an interactive fiction game where you get the chance to actively explore three diaries– they happen to be mine, kept from 5th grade until my senior year of high school. The design is simple on purpose. It is not supposed to be flashy or anything– it should mimic the simplicity of the books they are based on.

The formatting of the name is taken from Homestuck, a webcomic that sustained me during my most difficult years. Humorously enough, you can actually see my attitude towards Homestuck change throughout the course of the game.

Additionally, 3xdiarykind makes numerous references to other video games. This is a testament to my love of video games, & one of the most oddly charming parts of the game, I think.

My game is meant to serve as a commentary on mental illness, & I think it’s unique in that the experiences described are the real, genuine experiences of a neurodivergent child ~> young adult. They are not fabricated in the slightest– every single word you see in quotations is taken directly from my diary. I’m very interested in games about mental health, or games that at least explore those themes, such as Depression Quest. Mental illness is sort of a tricky topic to navigate, however, because as much as I want it to become normalized, I don’t want it to become trivialized. Mental illness isn’t a cute little quirk we can slap on to any old character & call it a day– it’s complex, & treating it like it’s not is frankly disrespectful to those of us who live with a mental illness.

Additionally, my game explores themes of growing up, or, more accurately, refusing to grow up. Of course this theme is natural– it wasn’t intentional, it simply exists because my diaries perpetuate it. It’s simultaneously interesting & cringeworthy for me, being both the author of the game & the author of the diaries from which the content is taken from. I hope it provides a little amusement, & distracts from the rest of the game.

When I set out to create this game, my initial idea was quite different. I wanted to use my diary in some way,  but I wasn’t sure how. It was actually Hex who inspired me to really check out interactive fiction,  & their game suggestions convinced me that IF would be the most successful way of conveying my story. That’s really all my game is. It’s a story of a girl who knew something was wrong, who documented it, who wanted to feel differently, but who didn’t know what to do.

My playtesters (my friends, predominantly) said that this game was extremely difficult to get through because of the subject matter. They had an especially difficult time because they know me, they care deeply about me, & it’s difficult to imagine a close friend suffering. I hope that other players will be able to experience it with a little less difficulty. It is not my goal to make people upset…in fact, I didn’t stop to think about how empathetic players may feel terribly sad while playing this game. Instead, I wanted to simply raise awareness about mental illness, especially in children. After all, I am a well adjusted, high-functioning young adult now, thanks to years of cognitive behavioral therapy. This game is a somewhat cautionary tale I suppose, but even that is not exactly accurate.

This game is a culmination of everything I want to do in games. This year, the games I was most proud of were the ones that dealt with deeper themes– in this case, my first Balloon Piece. I was fairly dissatisfied with my word game & my stealth game, simply because they felt pointless to me. I want to make things that matter, or things that are autobiographical in nature. I’m thankful that this class gave me that opportunity. I’m only upset that I did not make four games that capture my values.

I hope this final piece makes up for all of that.

The scope may be small but it’s also vast. It’s seven plus years of my life. I hope you find some meaning in it.

Indie/Art Game Show & Tell


Lost Constellation


final game idea dumping

I do not want to create a digital game, I don’t think. Mostly because I’m not particularly confident in my coding abilities, nor do I enjoy coding.

I’m not yet sure how it’ll become a game, but after we were prompted to create a game/experience that explores an underrepresented emotion, I was struck with the idea of using pages out of my old middle school diaries. I know this would lend itself to an intensely personal game, & I’m okay with that. I’m also very attracted to the idea of personal artifacts– much like a readymade or a fluxus kit.

I’m considering some sort of emotion twister– consider Robert Plutchik’s theory of eight basic emotions:

  • Fear → feeling afraid. Other words are terror (strong fear), shock, phobia
  • Anger → feeling angry. A stronger word for anger is rage.
  • Sadness → feeling sad. Other words are sorrow, grief (a stronger feeling, for example when someone has died) or depression (feeling sad for a long time). Some people think depression is a different emotion.
  • Joy → feeling happy. Other words are happiness, gladness.
  • Disgust → feeling something is wrong or dirty
  • Trust → a positive emotion; admiration is stronger; acceptance is weaker
  • Anticipation → in the sense of looking forward positively to something which is going to happen. Expectation is more neutral.
  • Surprise → how one feels when something unexpected happens

perhaps I could modify the game of Twister but also incorporate my diary entries–perhaps the player grabs a random page, reads it, decides what emotion is paramount on that page, & then does something based on that.







a stealth based scavenger hunt

The rules are simple. Check off the boxes, be honest, & above all, DON’T GET CAUGHT! You lose 2 points for every prudent student you disrupt.

GUIDE TO DISRUPTION: it only counts as a full disruption if the person in question makes eye contact with you.

CATEGORY ONE: 1 Point Each

Spot someone…

  • typing some sort of paper on their computer
  • writing in a notebook
  • using a calculator
  • using a pencil
  • using a blue or black pen
  • using a Mac
  • using a PC
  • using PhotoShop
  • googling something
  • on Facebook
  • on Twitter
  • on Tumblr
  • on Reddit
  • on YouTube

CATEGORY 2: 3 Points Each

Get a closer look to determine if someone is…

  • studying something within your major
  • coding in any language
  • reading the New York Times
  • taking a BuzzFeed quiz
  • reading anything on BuzzFeed
  • online shopping
  • using their phone to check Instagram
  • eating a snack
  • eating a full blown meal
  • drinking something other than water
  • drawing in their notebook


I don’t have any photo documentation, simply because that would’ve removed some of the stealth aspect of the game…If I’d have asked my players (my roommate & friend) to take pictures of every category that they checked off, I feel like I would’ve been breaking my own rule of noninvasiveness. Instead, I relied on my friends’ honesty.

Overall, they enjoyed the game. They felt a little weird at first, sneaking around the library, but they said that after a few minutes, they felt more comfortable. My roommate said they felt more comfortable if they acted as normal as possible, instead of trying to actually “sneak” around. Walking normally seemed to cause less of a disturbance as well. Players reported being spotted more often if they tried crouching or moving too quickly like you would in a stealth video game– people other than their “target” would often take notice.

One addition they’d like to add would be more things to spot! For example, they saw many people using their phones, & wished they could count that category multiple times.

Artist’s Statement: My intervention is sort of an anti-intervention. When looking through the readings, in particular the Dada readings, I believe that my inspiration came not so much from the works themselves but from the way in which people have been impacted. After everything we saw in class, including the Humans versus Zombies game & all of the improv games, I thought long & hard about what I would be interested in doing. For a while I was interested in a graveyard as a context for this intervention, & many of my ideas involved myself & my small human skeleton replica placing ourselves within different contexts, but many of these ideas seemed trite & cheap. Eventually, I decided that I wanted to create a game that would actually try its very hardest NOT to intervene with the word around it. Especially after watching The Institute, I was set in my decision to create a work of art that would be as noninvasive as possible. While the world created by The Institute was engaging & really magical, I wonder about the impact it had on certain people– I was rather unclear as to where the reality ended & the fiction began, at least in the video documentary that we watched. Regardless, I wanted to create something that would instead be played parallel to everyday life, as opposed to crossing into it. Additionally, I was unfortunate enough to be sick when this project was assigned. Interestingly enough, that ended up playing a fairly significant role in the development of my project, since it limited where I could go, & thus, my inspiration for this very context based piece. I ended up being limited to the buildings I already knew, & the same concern kept popping into my head: there will be students in there, working, & I don’t want to disturb them! I kept thinking about the issue of the people who aren’t playing the game being negatively affected, & that actually led to my inspiration. What if I created a game that relied heavily on stealth? It’s a mechanic we see often in video games, but what if we applied it to real life? I realized that Snell Library would be a wonderful context for this project, since there would be a large amount of students studying a number of things on a daily basis. My stealth game relies on this– it is essentially a scavenger hunt, where players compete to navigate the building, checking off their score sheets as they find what is required of them. I added the requirement that the players avoid detection in the form of direct eye contact, a mechanic I stole from the Pokemon series. I rely heavily on the honesty of my participants, seeing as they could very easily lie to me. I will of course, not be able to follow them as they move around the building, but I choose to believe that deep down, people are good, & they will not deceive me.

clark, peter and joey: a word game

Originally, I wanted to create an appropriated game about gender, trope reversal, & subversion. Unfortunately, due to time constraints & a lack of materials at Target, I had to alter my idea!

I bought up a couple of children’s books– “Clark the Shark” by Bruce Hale, “Rubble to the Rescue” by Kristen Depken, “The Poky Little Puppy” by Janette Sebring Lowrey, & “Pinkalicious & Planet Pink” by Victoria Kann. Then, I gave a book to two of my friends & asked them to cut out words & sentence fragments. We divided up the work until all of the books were effectively stripped of everything that made them books in the first place, & we soon had a pile of words & phrases.

My intention was to create a sort of found poetry engine, allowing two or more players to work together to create something artistic & meaningful out of children’s literature, which is often overlooked.

Little did I know that my friends had put their own spin on things by focusing on words or phrases that seemed adult in nature. They even cut up certain words to CREATE vulgar fragments! For example, multiple instances of “class” or “grass” were turned into “ass.”

I didn’t protest, because if anything, this only added to the appropriation of the piece. They appropriated my idea.

SO…I changed the rules of the game! This game takes two players. They compete to create a sentence that will make the other player break face– sort of like a childhood game I used to play called Old Stone Face. All you have to do is get your opponent to smile, sputter, laugh, or otherwise show emotion!

The game is called Clark, Peter, & Joey because those are the only names we could find within the books chosen.

For the final play test I intend to go out & buy more books to cut up, & possibly organize the words & phrases so that they’re easier to sort through.

I did two playtests– one with friends, & one in class. Content Warning for occasional vulgarities.

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I changed a couple of things for this round. Firstly, I gave each player their own pile of words, which made the task of sorting through them much easier. Secondly, I finalized the rules:

-Two players compete over three rounds. Players each create a sentence using their word pile & take turns reading their creation to their opponent. The player who gets the bigger reaction out of their opponent gets a point that round. If both players are in stitches, each player gets a point. Words used in a sentence may not be recycled. They are removed from the pile for the remainder of the game.

ADDITIONALLY, Since most players take an “adult humor” type of route in this game, I advised players against creating sentences that implied a lack of consent. I do not want my game being used in that manner.

Here are some priceless reactions & interesting sentences created. Once again, there’s a content warning for adult humor.

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My piece, called Clark, Peter, & Joey: A Word Game, was pretty distinctly different from my balloon piece last time. Conceptually, my piece changed a lot from initial creation to its final iteration. I began wanting to create something in a similar vein to my last work- something that had a lot of personal meaning to me, something deeply self-reflective, something with a message. Unfortunately, a lot of that fell through as soon as I realized that I couldn’t afford to purchase the materials I envisioned for this kind of piece. So I had to adapt on the spot, which in my opinion, sort of fit the spirit of appropriation & happenings. My game began to take shape in my head– a found poetry engine, inspired by the likes of Dada collagists. I wanted to subvert the everyday, subvert the childishness of the children’s books that I was about to tear apart. I wanted to surprise the player with the beauty & elegance they could create with only simple words. However, I was the one who ended up getting surprised.

I enlisted the help of my friends for cutting up the books, & quickly my game became filled with “ass” & “daddy” pieces. In a way, they appropriated my game as much as I appropriated those books in the beginning. And we certainly achieved some sort of subversion– maybe not the kind I really wanted, but subversion nonetheless. While Dada artists subverted the imagery & everyday media of the bourgeoisie with their collages, my players subvert the innocence & simplicity of children’s books. Clearly, one is on a much greater & more valuable scale, but I don’t think that my game in invaluable. One interesting intersection in my game where I found the chance to insert my own political & moral views was on the off chance that someone create a sentence that seemed to imply a lack of consent– instead of letting this type of sentence get played, we talked about why it crossed a line. It was no longer funny adult humor, but instead a very icky & malicious perpetuation of a culture that disregards victim’s stories. I am all for games like Cards Against Humanity, &, I suppose, my game as well, so long as they remain receptive to removing aspects of their game that are truly harmful. So, even if my original design intentions changed greatly over the course of the piece, I still think I held onto some of the same values that Dada collagists like Hannah Hoch instilled in her pieces.

Bastille, Petal, and more

I was originally going to talk about Bastille’s newest album, Wild World, which has a tracklist of 19 songs, many of which sample sound bites from old movies & television.  All of these samples are specifically placed within the song to heighten the highly political themes surrounding the album, which is greatly inspired by the current political climate of our world. (See: Brexit, Trump’s lunacy, etc)

I saw that Marina already talked about the single Good Grief, so I thought I’d go a little more in depth since there is so much to say!

The Currents in particular deals with the bigotry of certain political figures & the harm their words can do on a global scale. The intermezzo is sampled (appropriated) from Make Mine Freedom, a propaganda cartoon from the Cold War Era that was supposed to promote capitalism.

Another favorite is Way Beyond, which touches upon the human condition & the way the media interacts with it. This song looks at desensitization, violence, & apathy. It samples from The News Media’s Coverage of Crime and Victimization Video.

Warmth samples from the same source, this time saying: When the event happens, there is little time to think of those things that people would like to have remain private. Getting caught up in the circus-like atmosphere, feeling less responsible to conventional ethical practices.” Again, this song is about the human condition & how we are impacted by the media’s treatment of violent acts.

Here’s a link to Bastille’s website: http://www.bastillebastille.com/

Please go stream their new album or purchase it! Support this awesome band.


Another favorite band of mine is Petal. Please go give them a listen. 🙂 One of the songs off of 2015’s Shame is called Chandelier Thief, which borrows it’s lyrics from a Nicole Ashton poem of the same name. I think this form of appropriation is incredibly lovely & meaningful because it combines two forms of art. The lead singer & lyricist, Kiley Lotz, is close friends with the poet.

Give it a listen here:


Just one more band! This is Sledding with Tigers. They’re also great…you should go support them.

Their album Come on & Slam is a Space Jam  themed album. Yes. Space Jam like the movie. The song The Big Game (Movements 1 & 2) samples from the film, as well as borrowing names, lyrics, themes, & plot points from the beloved classic. Give it a listen here:

balloon piece

balloon piece

  1. acquire a deflated balloon. any pattern or color will do.
  2. speak your mind into the balloon, filling it with something you’ve been holding onto.
  3. take a deep breath, & then exhale into the balloon.
  4. capture all of the air & words inside, & tie the balloon closed.
  5. carry the balloon with you until you feel ready to feel ready to finally let go of the burden. take a pin or otherwise sharp object & burst the balloon, freeing yourself as well.

2016 autumn


balloon4 balloon3 balloon2 balloon1

My piece is heavily inspired by Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit. I have been a fan of her work for some time, & I am not afraid to admit that I even modeled the formatting of my instructions after the printed version of Grapefruit that I own. I wanted my score to act somewhat like a spiritual successor to her works in this series, as I believe they fill an incredibly interesting role as not only instructions, but art pieces in and of themselves, as poetry. There’s this interesting conjunction of Yoko creating art through her scores that go out & ask for others to create their own art using Yoko’s guidance. I also highly admire her more surrealistic scores that either cannot be carried out, or that ask the participant to create incorporeal works within their own minds. Throughout my creative process, I dabbled in a few nonphysical instructions, such as a piece that asked the participant to swim through a nightmare, but ultimately I decided to follow through with a score I initially created last year. This score, called “balloon piece,” is heavily influenced by the kinds of instructions that require the participant to use either their own body or are related to the body in some way. I’m very interested in the physical interaction between the artist & the art in these pieces. In particular, I drew from “blood piece” & “voice piece for soprano.” In “blood piece,” Yoko asks the artist to paint with their own blood. In my piece, similarly, I ask the artist to fill a balloon with their words. I want the artists to put a piece of themselves into their “painting,” so that it holds real weight for them. I would’ve loved to work with blood, but I’d be a little worried about having my classmates or friends cut themselves open for my art, so instead I chose to instruct a more metaphorical letting of blood, in the form of filling the balloon with a great burden the artist has been carrying with them for a time. The “paint” in my case still comes from inside, but there is no physical pain required for this piece. Yoko’s “voice piece for soprano” is probably more obvious when it comes to similarities with my own score. Both require the artist’s voice, in Yoko’s case, a scream, & in my case, a whisper. I love the mental image of screaming against the wind, as described in Yoko’s voice piece, & although I’ve yet to actually go out & try this piece, it exists so vividly in my mind that it served as inspiration for my own score. I realize that the act of speaking into a balloon will most likely not fill it a discernable amount, but I am more focused on that imaginary, intangible image of words & feelings & possible grudges filling up the balloon. I do however, want the popping of the balloon to truly mimic the feeling of finally letting something go, so I do ask for the artist to exhale into the balloon, hopefully filling it with enough of their energy to inflate it a decent amount. The exhale is also meant to be therapeutic, something which I think a lot of Yoko’s pieces seem to strive for. This piece is meant to be very personal & unique for each & every person who creates it, as unique as the words that fill the balloon. A lot of the scores in Grapefruit will create one of a kind pieces, which I think is truly neat, seeing as everyone in the world could be reading the exact same instructions, but come out with something different. I want my balloons to feel the same way– even though the physical piece may look very similar to a neighbor’s, the artist should take pride in knowing that their piece is filled with their essence alone. Another aspect that makes each balloon unique to the artist is how long they decide to hold onto it. I expect some participants to pop the balloon immediately after inflating it, which is fine, but I hope that some will truly hold onto their balloon until they’ve processed the feelings inside of it, & pop it for cathartic purposes. If a participant can find catharsis through my score, then I’ll have fulfilled my purpose.