Artwork #2: Appropriate

Artwork 2: Lost in Google Translation

For this artwork, I chose to focus on the appropriation of technology. We use technology to assist us in our work and so design this technology to be used in a certain way. For example, Google Translate is intended to be used to simply translate text from one language to another. This is typically used in situations where we need to interact with those who do not speak the same language as us, so that we may communicate with them. I was inspired by the works of appropriation from the Dada movement, especially works like Raoul Hausmann’s Mechanischer Kopf (Der Geist unserer Zeit). In this piece, Hausmann adorns a wooden head with a variety of objects that have specific purposes, such as a ruler used for measuring. This use of objects with specific, everyday purposes to create art is what inspired me to use Google Translate in a way that was not intended by its designers.

This work is a game in which one player chooses an English sentence or phrase with a certain theme and translates it between various other languages, about 10 or so at least, and then translates the sentence back to English. Because certain words or phrases do not translate perfectly from one language to another, the original sentence becomes modified in the translation. The other players must then look at this translation and write down what they think the original sentence was. The player that comes the closest to the original sentence wins the round. This game can be played for as many or as few rounds as the players desire.

In the original iteration of the game, there was no theme for the sentences, so it was difficult to discern what the original sentences might have been referencing. With a theme, such as famous first lines of books, the players at least can draw from a specific set of knowledge, rather than randomly guessing.

The original sentence

The modified sentence

Artwork #2 & Appropriation Game – Erik Ojo

I initially began my game with the premise of translating fanfiction, a popular and often created transformative work, into a visual novel. My idea was to take a popular franchise, mix it with a popular fanfiction trope to create an entirely new world, and create a VN from that.

I wanted to create a VN with a choice of three different tropes:

  • a coffee shop AU (an extremely popular alternate universe trope putting characters in the setting of a coffee shop/cafe, as either workers or customers)
  • a historical AU (putting characters in another time period, such as Ancient Greece or Rome, Victorian era, the 1920s, etc)
  • a science fiction AU (putting characters in a science fiction storyline – usually when the original story is not science fiction, or at least not the specific type of science fiction the fanfiction is set in)

The franchise that I chose to transform was the X-Men franchise, as I’m extremely familiar with it and it’s fanbase, and it’s a relatively well known property.

I planned to begin to write the VN in a Google document, and then transfer it to Twine, and if I had time, code it into Ren’py.

The first pitfall I came across was creating interesting stories for each of these worlds that work properly as VNs. In a way, I am attempting to write fanfiction – something that takes a good while to properly formulate and write out, just like any kind of fiction. I had trouble coming up with proper stories as the inspiration wasn’t quite there, and I was working off the idea of tropes rather than first having a core theme, and centering the trope around that theme. Writing it became more involved than I could realistically handle in the time I had, and I felt that it was becoming more about creating a world than about the concept of appropriation.

(Which in a way fanfiction is? I guess it’s logical that fanfiction itself is less about the concept of appropriation than the act of appropriation?)

The second pitfall, was that I was having a hard time making my game into a game rather than a story you click. I want to engage the players through choices that matter, but reflecting on it, fanfiction isn’t really about power of onlookers, it’s about the author’s power to do whatever they like with the characters they’ve chosen.

(I had a conversation with our guest about choices and how some developers put them there for no reason except for them to be there, and give them no real power in the game. She also mentioned how it’s not always necessary to give players a choice, and told me about VN-esque games that don’t, which made me rethink my game quite a lot.)

I decided I needed to scale down my game, and decided to create an analog game instead. I focused instead on giving players the power to change characters and stories in the same way fanfiction gives writers power.

I decided to use the Marvel Cinematic Universe instead of X-Men, because just about everyone knows it and it has enough high-profile characters for non-repetitive play.

It is a 4 player game.

The basis of the game is

  1. randomly picking a character from a deck of characters
  2. selecting 10 characteristic cards
    1. picking 5 of these characteristics to assign their character
  3. combining these transformed characters with the other players to create one big fanfiction synopsis
    1. synopsis is helped along by drawing 4 random plot cards

For example:

  1. Picks Steve Rogers from a Marvel deck
  2. Characteristics chosen from cards:
    1. works as a security guard
    2. has clinical depression
    3. does ballet on the side
    4. is secretly a vampire
    5. upset about the fact that he peaked in high school
  3. Players pick one plot-themed character action or character development for their character
    1. “your character has some tough lessons to learn”
  4. [depressed security guard vampire Steve Rogers, hipster fashion blogger Bruce Banner, nursing home volunteer social media influencer Natasha Romanoff, and anxiety ridden weed dealer closet furry Tony Stark]
  5. Players pick four cards (one of each kind of plot card) that create a framework for the fanfic
    1. story begins on a yacht (story begins… card)
    2. it’s a story about greed (story is about… card)
    3. a 30-year old murder case is resurrected (plot/inciting incident card)
    4. mostly takes place in the heart of a big city (setting card)
  6. and the players take it from there.
    1. (excerpt of a synopsis example: one of the senior citizens Natasha has taken care of is Nick Fury and everyone thinks Steve is the one who killed all those people because he’s an vampire with murderous impulses and was in the wrong place at the wrong time but it was actually Tony Stark’s (dead) dad and Nick Fury working in cahoots)

This is inspired in part by crack/crack-esque fanfiction

“Crackfic” is a term for a story which takes a ridiculous premise as its starting point, such as casting all the canon characters as My Little Ponies. It may or may not deal with this premise in a serious way. (Fanlore)

which is usually of questionable quality and very random, but can also be the basis of extremely interesting works with a lot of depth. There is a lot of fanfiction with generally weird premises that is like War and Peace in some fandoms.

It is also inspired in part by collaboratively written fanfic. Fanfiction writers (and fan artists) often team up to write and set up events to facilitate this as well (see: Big Bangs, holiday fic exchanges, etc)

And it is inspired also, by Cards Against Humanity. The random matching and player engagement bits.

Thoughts after playtesting:

  • Players keeping character roles concealed from other players could improve play and more surprising for other characters
  • Reducing the amount of cards on the table at once could help stop the game from becoming too complicated/confusing
  • Adding an “ending” card would help reduce gameplay difficulty/increase game cohesiveness
  • Less plot cards could help reduce the gameplay difficulty

Appropriation Game – Telling Lies?

For my appropriation game, I designed a game I dubbed “Telling Lies?” it’s a card game played with a standard deck of cards revolving around deceiving your opponents and collecting pairs of cards. Sound familiar? If so, you may draw parallels to this and games like Go Fish, BS, and Coup.

In the game, each player asks for cards from another player’s hand. That player may give them the card, or deny that they have it. A player may call someone’s bluff though, and ask them to reveal their hand to prove it. If they’re caught lying, there’s a punishment. But, if they were telling the truth, the accuser gets punished. The goal of the game is to collect as many pairs of cards as possible before the deck runs out. Feel free to read the full rules here: Telling Lies

I took a lot of inspiration for the game from the chess appropriations we learned about in class, namely White Chess and Saito’s chess series. The concept of taking a game that is so cemented in place as a classic game and making it something new seemed enticing to me, so I decided to choose something classic that most players could instantly think of while playing the game, Go-Fish. Of course, this is a little different, since chess appropriations make an entirely different game with a board and chess pieces which is different, while different card games pop up all the time. That being said, does that make all card games appropriations of each other?

Playtesting went very well, as the game had a massive amount of strategy that I wasn’t ready for when I started playing. I got destroyed, and realized that several aspects of the game were important, most of all being mind-games. You could fake a card in hand by asking for that card from someone, leading the rest to believe you have a copy of that card to pair with it. Reading body language, eye contact, and more was important. All these levels of play that were outside of the physical game themselves made the game highly competitive and fun. The players enjoyed playing, as did I. A few changes were made over time, such as covering some edge cases where players would accuse with no cards in hand to pay for the possible penalty, and the penalties were messed with a bit for balancing so there wasn’t accusations every turn or none at all. However, not much was changed, and the fundamentals of the game were the same throughout the game’s existence.

Meme Uno

Artist Statement:

My game appropriates content from the internet, specifically memes. Usually, the memes are either posted independently on social media, added as reactions to other posts, or innovated and reinterpreted on the original post. The game takes the idea that the people interacting with the memes have to know what they are seeing before being able to interpret and enjoy it, and applies it to Uno. In Meme Uno, before a person can play a card, they have to identify the meme on it, and the other people can state that they are wrong. If the player cannot name any usable memes from their hand, they have to draw cards from the deck until they find one that is both applicable and that they can name. If they have 10+ cards in their hand that they cannot interpret, they can place the cards at the bottom of the deck and draw an equal number from the top. The goal, like Uno, is to get down to one card.

The memes in this version of the game are hand-drawn, but a more easily identifiable version would have the memes printed right in the cards, rather than drawn on. That would make it easier for the person bringing the deck since they wouldn’t have to draw the memes on.

The game is, because of its meme parts, partially inspired by the Dada movement, because a lot of the memes used draw upon styles used in the movement such as Baader’s photomontages. However, it is too broad a selection of images and styles to speculate which exact pieces might have influenced the memers of this generation. The actual game I made draws upon the idea of the memes as “found objects” in the way that Duchamp’s art used found objects, except instead of using objects from the outside world, the game takes memes found on the internet and translates them into the cards used for the game. Using images from sources that do not fit the base material (in this case, memes and blank Uno Cards, respectively), was also inspired by Baader’s photomontage, as well as Schwitter’s Merz collages, because those incorporated images more than words.

Playtests:

The first playtest spent about half of its time drawing the memes onto the cards, something that was later, in the secon playtest suggested to be turned into its own game of Meme Pictionary. After the memes were drawn, the game of Uno continued as it usually went, without the added component of naming the memes. This concluded pretty fast, because everyone knows how to play Uno and I had added nothing to the actual game.

The second playtest used the same cards as the first, so there was no drawing component, but it had the naming component, which made it last a longer time than the original. It was also a lot more chaotic and conversational, because people debated the memes they used and disproved other people. It was suggested here that either the drawings were separated into a different game and the Uno game just used the actual memes printed out, or the game was played with a BS vibe to it, where people would play memes and if they didn’t know the meme they could lie, but if they were caught they would take the card back and have to draw instead. Either option is viable, as is a combination of both.

Gallery from the second playtest:
       

The entire deck of memes laid out

And on a final note:

xXx Throwback 2 Quizilla xXx

xXx Throwback 2 Quizilla xXx

This game was made as an appropriation to the days of 2004-2010, when Quizilla was at its peak popularity. The website was used for mainly creating quizzes and writing stories. The site was used by many newer or popular fandoms of the time along with the emo scene. The game was made to mimic the quizzes of those times which were a series of questions and then a result in the end and the most popular quizzes had the taker get a result where they’re told that they have a certain power or end up with a handsome fictional character. The stories were all about a mediocre teenage girl who was stubborn and had attitude so instead of taking the route of those stories in which she gains 5-13 different powers, I made that all the questions would turn the player into a NPC in the interesting new world they were transported to instead of being a key player.

The game was made to mimic that style, but instead of having those happy endings or the instant suicide or cutting your wrists endings, I wanted to make the player always feel like they’re in limbo and thus never getting an end state that’s satisfactory or even considered an end state, but in respect to the medium I continuously gave the player commentary on their choices for some sort feedback even if it’s negative feedback.

The movement that I took inspiration from was the New York Dada movement because they had a focus on wit and humor using some sort of irony. However my main take away from the New York Dada movement was the movement’s criticism of forms of art by making fun of it with mimicry. Next are the works that I used to take inspiration from for my writing. The two that I used were Etant donnes and Fresh Widow by Marcel DuChamp. I used Etant donnes because Duchamp made a magical world over an impossible spanish wood door to point out war and the rise of fascism, but the viewer can only see it through a crack or peephole in the door and I used the idea of making a magical world, but only to block it off and have the players not do anything  to create a frustration in my players. Next was Fresh Widow, which was a play on French Window and was a way to point out war and the romantic idea of soldiers going to war and their wives waiting for them. The inspiration that I took from the piece was to remove the romantic idea of escapism from these quizzes and the idea that there is a happy ending in the end of all the effort of answering questions.

Documentation

For my playtests, I’d ask them if they had been on Quizilla when it was still active, Or if their only experience were with Buzzfeed quizzes as it would give me some insight if the participant knew the type of humor and style of the ‘choose your own adventure’ disguised as a quiz with the appropriated general style of 2006-08.

The first person who played my game didn’t use Quizilla, but was familiar with the style of humor that I was trying to emulate and during the playtest.

Observations: There were a fair amount of eyerolls and mutters of ‘why?” Some chuckles mainly at the beginning.

Feedback: It changes too quickly from being nice to being cruel and dismissive. I (the playtester) wasn’t into the emo scene or depression scene back in the day so I guess maybe try to make it more surprising by making the first 3 questions nice and then attack the player at the drink questions

The second player is someone I’ve known for more than 10 years. They did go on Quizilla when they were in elementary school.

Observations: A bit of staring back and forth between the screen and my face. A fair amount of skepticism in the beginning then an elongated ‘oh’ when the person figured out what I was trying to appropriate.

Feedback: Called me a loser in a loving way and then called me a sell-out. The person actually asked me “Why didn’t the player commit suicide as one of the endings?”. At first I took the feedback as a joke, but then I started actually thinking about it.

I wasn’t sure what to make of this feedback because back when this style of humor was popular, it was commonplace for an abrupt end or all of the ends in the game be that the character is brutally killed or commits suicide. I wouldn’t be comfortable writing these scenarios now. However if I had to completely mimic the style in the game, I would have added it in, but since times are different and thankfully evolved past depression memes, I kept with the humor and style of the game just with minor edits.

Feminist Dress Up

For my game featuring appropriation I chose to make a dress up game utilizing images from famous feminist artworks. While I chose the majority of my images based on the work’s expression of the artist’s own self-expression and relation to gender. overall I am very happy with the chosen works, especially with how harshly they contradict the traditional dress up game with the common inclusion of nudity or blood.

Classmates actively collaging An example of one of the collages A second collage example

 

Initially I started with a physical version, scaling all of the source images to be comparably to scale, and had my classmates cut and clue parts of the images to create their own feminist artist. I was surprised with how well this activity turned out, with the flexibility of the physical medium offering unique combinations like different arms or feet that I hadn’t thought of for the digital version. I also love how the final products include the background of the various images, setting the characters in a scene. Initially I was conflicted on whether or not I should choose to cut the pieces out before hand, but found the physical act of cutting and gluing the collage to be powerful.

An example of the digital game. An example of the digital game. An example of the digital game.

For the digital version of the game I chose to use unity, and make a relatively simple character creation in which you could customize the head, torso, and legs of your character. While I love the immediacy of seeing the different combinations, in the future I hope to continue adding to the game to polish it, eventually adding a submit screen that would show the original works behind the parts you chose and a brief explanation of each work and its artist respectively.

Overall I took a lot of inspiration from a number of different Dada artists and their appropriation. Hannah Höch was particularly inspirational. I loved the aesthetic of Cut with the Dada Kitchen Knife through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany in addition to The Beautiful Girl being an amazing feminist collage. Max Ernst’s Sacred Conversations, Man Ray’s Coat Stand, George Grosz and John Heartfield’s The Middle-Class Philistine Heartfield Gone Wild, and Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, No 2 all served as great examples of the abstraction of the female form using collage and assembly, in addition to the question of the objectification of the female form. Overall while the combination of the individual works is up to the participant, I hope the resource of works provided allow for some kind of education or curiosity about the artists behind them and all the work that they have created.

Adventure to Unusual Articles

3-10 players
10 – 40 minutes

Play Rules:

  • Have everyone start at a completely random Wikipedia article. This can be done through this link
  • Choose a category in Wikipedia’s list of unusual articles
  • Have everyone choose an article within the category. This a your goal page. This is the page you want to move towards. This is to be kept secret.
  • Whoever got to the random page gets to be the first leader
  • Everyone else chooses a link they want to go through and offers it to the leader
  • The leader chooses a link from those offered by the other players
  • Everyone goes through the chosen link and whoever offered the link becomes the new leader

How to Win:

  • If you come to a page that links to your goal page, you win!

Optionally Tabletop-RPGesque Elements (for fun and profit):

Begin the game by having each player choose a person and place. (They must have a Wikipedia page) They will role play as that person and be from that place. The players should use this role as a way of backing up their link decisions. (Example: As Barbra Streisand from the isle of Jersey I think it would be smart if everyone else learned about my role in the film Funny Girl.)

Documentation:

So far 3 playtests have been run of this game. Here is the link history for the three of them:

Hendricks County Flyer Hell,Michigan Anupama Niranjana
North Salem, Indiana Paradise, Michigan Kannada Literature
Population Density Sufjan Stevens 20th Century in literature
Inbreeding Interstate 278 Genre Fiction
Adult Robert Moses Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction
Voting Post World War II Economic Boom Metro 2033
No Land! No House! No Vote! Baby Boom Special Edtion
Capetown Birth Control List of Video Game collector and limited items
2004 Summer Olympics Coitus Interruptus PlayStation 4
Jacques Rogge Penis PlayStation 4 System Software
Internet Censorship in China Koro (ran out of time)
Great Firewall
Classified Information
For Official Use Only
Freedom of Information Act
Fedspeak

The first play test didn’t use the category rule, so it took a bit longer. On the last playtest we ran out of time so we just saw who could get to their page first.

Here’s the document I used to design the game

Artist Statement:

The initial conception of this game came from a normal visit to Wikipedia. Knowing I had to make an appropriation game (and in some bout of desperation) I established Wikipedia as the medium of choice. A few games have used Wikipedia, the most famous being the almost poetic Wiki Game. That has simple rules: Start on page A, go to page B using links fastest. I adore the wiki game both as a concept and as an actual experience. Any game that uses the internet as its play space like the Wiki Game or GeoGuesser continues to inspire me. It’s from the basic concept of the Wiki Game that this game was appropriated from.

So that’s where the “materials” come from. The conceptual basis of the game is the Exquisite Corpse. The wiki game is an individual race; it can be done alone with no inherit difference in experience. I wanted to make that experience collaborative. Having everyone follow the same links that the group decides to go through changes the dynamics  of moving from A to B in Wikipedia. The mechanic of having every link decision decided by two people is another example of adding collaboration into the game. The effect of this is that the group creates a path instead of an individual. The path through links on Wikipedia might have less artistic merit then a drawing or poem that the Exquisite Corpse used but it’s a creation none the less.

The path that is created playing this game is something of a collaborative montage. Not in the sense of film but in the broader definition that the Berlin Dadaist worked in. A path is a collection of disparate ideas that miraculously have defined connection to each-other by the inherent fact that they are found within a path. The individual articles are just stepping stones to the next one, bereft of meaning beyond a name and a link. That same feeling is remarkably close to Hannah Hoch’s photo-montages that take letters and headlines from newspapers without regard for the totality of the articles. Cut with the kitchen knife is the first piece that came to mind when I though of the game’s product in this way. 3D montages like Grosz’s and Heartfield’s Elektro-mechan or much of the work of Raoul Hausmann is also conceptual similar.

Finally, this work is simple enough to be considered a score. I would be lying if I said that had an effect on the creation of the original game, but when I was simplifying the rules for quicker games the rules became more and more like a score. The game has shocking similarities with Ono’s Map Piece, something about the openness and use of preexisting mediums used in unintended ways lends itself to similarities with Ono’s and Fluxus as a whole… although it was not consciously made.

The Game of Life on the Oregon Trail

My game consisted of an analog version of The Oregon Trail, made on a Game of Life board, with Life pieces and money. I wanted to recreate a famous digital game as a board game; the fact that Oregon Trail was originally a text-based game was also interesting, as a board game seemed like an evolutionary step, between text and computer game, that didn’t exist. As I researched and read articles from the designer who helped make the text game a computer game, I realized how complicated the mechanics were behind the scenes, and I tried to simply them while also making the elements of chance visible.

This is part of my appropriated Game of Life board (in horrible phone-photo quality):

The rules are here.

Iterations:

I playtested first in class. This helped to work out some kinks, such as the options for moving, the too-small food denominations, and the ease of replenishing food through the minigame. (Since my dartboard had not yet come in, we played paper football, which was too easy, especially since you could Hunt and Move each turn.) Also, no party members died, which does not accurately reflect the Oregon Trail game, so I decided to make it more difficult. The guest teacher suggested that there be automatic death from dysentery, which I thought was a good idea so I changed those sickness tiles to death tiles.

I playtested the new game with my friends once my dart board arrived. It worked a lot better, but was still very slow, which led to the fact that you can move twice if you have 2+ oxen. This also fixed a problem we ran into where a player got stuck since they had to keep hunting for food and then immediately paying that food to the bank, leaving no room for them to move forward since they had nothing to trade. I also noticed that there was a lot of leftover money, so I changed the starting money to what it was originally.  I also removed the requirement to stop at every fort, because it became redundant and equalized where people were too much. This was a good playtest because they were constantly trying to push boundaries, asking if they could resurrect or eat their dead members, or eat the oxen, which forced me to make more explicit rules.

Statement:

This game came about by thinking of what to appropriate. Originally I wanted to make a game about appropriation, but decided that using actual appropriation would be better-suited to a smaller project. I decided on Oregon Trail because it’s iconic as a computer game, and also because I had recently played it and wondered at how and why things happened, and saw its potential as  group game because my roomie and I were playing separately at the same time and updating each other on our progress. I chose the Life board because it fit well with the cars and people, and the new version with pets was perfect for the oxen. I ended up painting over most of the board and covering all the spaces with my Oregon Trail text copied from the 1971 game (the text was shortened to fit and I changed “Indian” from the game to “Native American”). Since the hunting minigame was an important part of bringing the game from text to computer, I wanted that to be skill-based, and decided appropriating darts would work well.

The idea of taking something and using it against its purpose was an aspect of Dada and Fluxus, and I was especially thinking of Duchamp’s readymade Bicycle Wheel, which in combining two objects made them useless. In this case, the Game of Life board was no longer playable as that game, but as a new one (Oregon Trail) that was in a different format than it was created in. The collaborative way my friends and I added and subtracted rules mid-game also seemed to speak to the collaborative, sometimes spontaneous entertainment performed in the Cabaret Voltaire.

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

 

Materials

  • 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

 

Gameplay

  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

 

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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.

 

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Original draft

 

A game for 2-5 players

 

Materials:

  • 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

 

Setup:

  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.

 

Gameplay:

  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.

Not so Hungry Not so Hungry Hippos

Artist Statement: Not so Hungry Not so Hungry Hippos

This works intention was to appropriate a childhood game and incorporate adult-life concepts into the gameplay. The childhood game modified for this project was Hungry Hungry Hippos and the concept from adult life was dietary restrictions. I represented prominent symptoms of four human dietary issues through the certain penalties players receive when consuming colored pills. For instance, lactose intolerance is known to cause diarrhea/flatulence, this is represented by the player disposing of half their stomach contents before tallying up points.

I was attempting to change a fast paced game of greed into a slower game of timing a strategy. This was well accomplished after eliminating the hypoglycemic diet. That diet penalty was activated when it did not eat a certain food so it was incentivized to eat more, rather than the other players who were penalized for eating voraciously. Without that intense energy stirring the pills, all the players were more forced to be more cautious when consuming. A strategic element of timing developed which slowed the pace of the game. Players also discovered new ways to manipulate the hippo head. They found stages in its opening depending on how hard you pressed down on the button which they used to help manipulate which pills fell into their mouths.

Balancing the amount and type of pills in play was going to be a main issue to work out. For the first iteration of playlets attempted to work out a decent balance between the pill types by working out percentages and ratios of probability in respect to each hippo. After play testing, slight adjustments were made by one or two units to polish off balance.

My piece Not so Hungry Not so Hungry Hippos comes from the vein of fluxes artists reinventing classic games while weaving in a new narrative or alternate meaning. Yoko Ono’s “Play It By Trust” is a prime example by altering the colors of the classic game Chess to reflect a more serious theme, the pointlessness of war. My piece follows a similar structure by appropriating the classic game of Hungry Hungry Hippos and changing the colors to reflect a new meaning found in adult life.

Appropriation Game: Not so Hungry Not so Hungry Hippos

Game Contents:

  • Game base
  • Four hippo heads and bodies
  • A malleable Clay/Putty substance
  • 43 Marbles
    • 20 Normal Red marbles
    • 23 food marbles
      • 5 Yellow
        • Peanut
      • 5 Pink
        • gluten
      • 6 Black
        • Sugar
      • 6 White
        • Milk
      • 1 Blue
        • Cure-all

How to set up: Start off with all the food units in the eating zone. Fill up each marble release aria with normal (non food) red marbles

How to win: Whoever’s hippo gains the most points after 6 rounds wins.

Rules: Every hippo has a unique dietary restriction. Depending on the diet, the player will receive a penalty upon consuming food units that negatively correlate with their diet. The hippo that collects the one cure-all (blue) marble will not be affected by their diet for that round.

Hippo Diets:

Diabetes

If consumed 3 or more sugar pills in one round, all red pills don’t count

(Symptom: increased thirst and hunger, frequent urination)

Lactose Intolerance

If consumed any milk pills, lose 1/2 of points gained that round

(Symptom: diarrhea, flatulence)

Anaphylaxis Shock

If consumed any peanut pills, pass out for next round

(Symptom: anaphylaxis shock)

Gluten Intolerance

Stick a quantity of putty equal to the size of the pink pills consumed in the stomach of the hippo.

(Symptom: bloating and abdominal pain)

How to play:

Before playing, the players pick dietary issues at random

Once that game begins all the hippos can consume the colored pellets. Once all pellets are consumed, the eating phase ends.

The players then check the contents they have collected. Every pellet counts as a point. Dietary penalties are activated in this phase if a hippo eats a pill that interferes with their diet.

After six rounds the player with the most points wins

 

Iterations:

Not so Hungry Not so Hungry Hippos underwent 3 iterations. The changes between iterations improved major balance issues and changed the functions of certain diets to bring gameplay closer to a reimagining of Hungry Hungry hippos.

Changes from Iteration 1 to Iteration 2

-Replaced hypoglycemia diet with diabetes diet

-Why: During play-tests, hypoglycemia was at an unfair advantage because it received a penalty for not eating enough sugars. Essentially punished for not eating enough, where the other players were forced to play more cautiously because they can not eat certain things.

-Added 2 more milk and 1 more peanut pill

-Why: To improve balance between the players

-Changed the punishment of anaphylaxis-lips from sticking putty onto the hippos lips too putting putty in the hippo’s stomach.

-Why: The weight of the putty was too much for the hippo eating mechanism to perform effectively, it was too much of a disadvantage.

Changes from Iteration 2 to Iteration 3

-Renamed the ‘anaphylaxis-lips’ diet to ‘gluten intolerance’ and the Strawberry pill to the Gluten pill

-Why: The new rule of putting putty in the stomach of the hippo is more accurate to the sensation of bloating found in gluten intolerant people.

 

Playtesting:

  • The play testing video below depicts usual gameplay.
  • The play testing video below is when the hypoglycemic hippo was passed out for a turn. This reflects the more cautious gameplay I discussed.