Artwork #4: Experience

Artwork 4: Boys Don’t Cry: A Transmasculine Simulator

My final project was a Twine game that simulated the experience of living one day as a transmasculine individual.

Following my last project’s subject on the reality of transmasculine life, I wanted to create a more personal and in depth experience relating to transmasculine life. After recently experiencing discrimination and microaggression at school and work, and experiencing so many non-transmascs making assumptions about what experiences or privileges we allegedly experience, I felt compelled to show what life was truly like for us.

I felt like it adequately fit the assignment and previous readings. I can’t think of a better way to emulate “experience” than to contain a huge part of what informs my life experience for others to experience.

I was originally thinking of this as a visual novels with characters, but I decided to frame it as more as a simulator to keep it personal. I was vaguely inspired by The Sims, which I’ve been playing recently. I was mostly just inspired by the concept of simulation games in general rather than The Sims itself (especially considering that when I play the Sims, it’s very character based).

I started out my game by listing certain concepts that I wanted to express in my games. Some notes include:

  • “Trans men who transition later have spent their lives on the receiving end of a lot of gendered discrimination and abuse and violence; and then suddenly found ourselves not only cut off from support for that trauma, but implicitly associated with its perpetrators.” – jay edidin
  • others tend to believe that trans men have access to male privilege simply because they are men, ignoring the fact that society mostly sees them as women and they have been or currently are treated as women/experienced misogyny
  • non-transmasculine trans people often alienate transmasculine people by associating transness as inherently anti-man/anti-masculinity
  • transmasculine peoples’ views on transness and gender and oppression are put on the back burner because of their maleness and the association of transmasculinity with cis masculinity and patriarchy
  • trans men are viewed either consciously or unconsciously as gender traitors, and this is especially seen with the perpetuation of the idea that they should be relinquishing their claim to their experiences with misogyny and gender-based discrimination

From there, I began to outline a story, and then separate that into multiple possible stories defined by choices.

Halfway through that outlining, I decided to go ahead and transfer it to Twine, and wrote the rest within the program.

In my first iteration, I ran out of time to create an alternate line of story depending on whether you wore a binder, but I remedied that in my second iteration.

If I were to create another iteration, I would create more experiences within the day or expand the world of the game. I initially wanted to include interactions with different kinds of trans men going through different things, with options to find out more about them and their experiences (i.e. feminine trans men, nonbinary trans men, trans men suffering from toxic masculinity and gender roles, etcetera) as well as transmasculine interaction with other trans people (negative and positive interaction between trans men and women was something i wanted to touch on because i’ve seen such polarizing behavior between us).

Gameplay wise, I received feedback about problems in the game re: options not being clickable and text showing up multiple times. I would definitely proofread it more and do more debugging to make sure everything runs smoothly. I feel like I could have organized the game in Twine a lot more cleanly so it wouldn’t have been so confusing and easy to mess up with.

play here

Artwork 4: The Pie Baker

The Pie Baker

Statement:

The intersection of theater and games is something I’ve grown to be very interested in recent years. I had an upbringing around theater so much of my cultural backbone stems from that world. One of my favorite shows ever is Stephen Sondheim’s and Hugh Wheeler’s Sweeney Todd. I spent a large part of my senior year of high school obsessed with it’s score and thematic elements and it was around this time I asked a question that still plagues me to this day. How do you make a musical into a video game.?

I don’t know the answer. I can’t say I will ever but I’ll keep trying to find out.

So that’s where this game comes in. It’s based off of an idea I had for a Sweeney Todd VR game where in the song “Epiphany” you swing the controllers around rapidly slicing what and who ever is in the way. The idea is that the person playing will emulate the complete insanity of the main character at that point. I had no intentions on adapting that for this project until I read “Discourse Engine’s for Art Mods” where much of the discussion surrounded the mod “Adam Killer.” Reading the piece I drew connections between the art’s description and my own idea so lacking any better idea I decided that I will make something like that for the project.

What came to be the spooky scene was prominently an experimentation with many software programs. Horror can be easily made by just messing with software you don’t fully understand until something uncanny is produced. “What happens if I take off all the hinges on a rag doll? Oh oh wow, oh god.”

The domestic baking outline that exists to hide the dark symbolic slicing scene was made as not only a further adaptation of Sweeney Todd but also as satire on many mobile games. The UI is directly downloaded from the Unity Asset store, this was in effort to make the game look more generic and closer to what I wished to satirize. The main loop of the game is buying meat and wheat and then waiting 20-25 seconds for the pie to bake and be sold. It’s slow, repetitive, completely draining, and with a profit of 1 coin per pie… will take 10 hours until you beat the game. There are two ways of speeding this up. You could purchase gems from the store to buy coins or meat (not implemented because I don’t want your money) or you can visit the cellar and get your coins fro the small price of symbolic murder. Capitalism can be fun!

This is a piece of game art. It’s not made to be fun, but I did want to make the juxtaposition of the colorful kitchen and the spooky cellar funny. It seems that’s how I best deal with my frustrations, make other people laugh at them.

Artwork 4: Mr. Wendell

For my final project (https://almost-tolerable.itch.io/mr-wendell) I chose to create an interactive fiction game. In the game you are a boy talking to your closest friend, Mr. Wendell, about what the future holds.

Mr. Wendell

Mr. Wendell is a reflection of the protagonist, conflicted and rejected by society. While Mr. Wendell does not change, the protagonists attitude towards Mr. Wendell can vary wildly. You can choose to stay with Mr. Wendell in the closet where it is safe, go out and leave Mr. Wendell behind, burn Mr. Wendell, or take Mr. Wendell with you to college. While the game isn’t nearly as long as I would like it to be, I still love the concept of a story that consists entirely of crazy, one-sided dialogue from the protagonist. I found it rewarding to develop the mutual relationship between the two, especially when it came to dialogue that was self-reflective, such as reassuring Mr. Wendell of his fears of the future or talking about how Mr. Wendell had been broken.

A half-human half-goat creature with school books and a backpack

Bethany

Initially I had envisioned a much larger scale, with the protagonist going through a world of half-human, half-goat people yet facing relatable dilemmas. The world would be extraordinary harsh with all other characters speaking through a robotic voice box. The protagonist would choose whether to associate with Bethany or his friends, and then choose his nurturing mother or his hard working father. Demonic aspects were layered throughout to exaggerate the cruelty of the world, with the friends beating and killing an ostracized classmate and with the father’s job being to kill all the deformed goat-human babies being born. While this is still a game and a world I’m extremely interested in exploring, especially diving deeper into the sci-fi elements, it was far too big of a scope for this project, and I ended up going for the much more grounded shrine that was Mr. Wendell.

Mr. Wendell was inspired by a number of elements, with the visual representation being the immediate focus. I really enjoyed the wide variety of dada collages, especially those that replaced the human form with mechanical parts such as Hannah Höch’s The Beautiful Girl and Max Ernst’s Sacred Conversations. I was also inspired by Dali’s surrealist work and carried that over to the melting plastic in addition to John Vochatzer’s contemporary collages being a great showcase of creatures with a terrifying presence. I also wanted to hint at the idea of the readymade, with there being a constant question if Mr. Wendell, and thus the protagonist, are just trash. I thought this paralleled nicely with the idea of being “broken” and a question of what the ideal state of something is, both for art and one’s own self.

As far as the goat imagery, Catherine was a big inspiration, with the dream like sequences where all men are turned into goats being especially compelling. I thought the goat would be interesting, posing as both a plush toy friend like many other barnyard animals, and calling to some deeper, possibly demonic power.

Overall I’m very happy with how the game turned out. I still think it is tragically short and would highly encourage multiple playthroughs, but I really enjoyed the artistic styles I got to experiment with, and the unique narrative stance of the one-sided conversation

 

 

Artwork 4: Hyperion (Tallest Tree)

For this last project I made a Twine game. My idea was the ecosystem of a forest, specifically that of the coast redwoods in California. You play as Hyperion, the tallest living tree in the world. There are four stats: erosion, pesticide impact, hydration, and fire risk. They grow each turn depending on which situations are randomly chosen from the links clicked. There is little autonomy, only in the form of in-between turns that reveal more text and heal  one point, which is not enough to make a difference. It plays between the normal mode of a Twine game, which is augmented story-telling, and the mode of games where your choices make a difference and you have to conserve your stats.

I decided to use this mechanic to illustrate the state of a tree: it has some processes it goes through, but it’s helpless in the face of global warming to protect itself. Writing from the point of view of an inanimate object was an interesting exercise in how they would experience things, and a switch from most games which are about the human condition, not the environmental one. (Originally there were background illustrations as well, in the form of foot prints of the animals described, but they looked weird so I got rid of them. I might add them back in as gifs.) It also became a slightly educational game, as I did a lot of research and incorporated those details into the game.

Originally the idea was that no matter what you clicked, nothing you did could change the outcome of you dying. I kept the game mostly the same through my iterations, except I added “surviving the year” as a sort of winning end state; however, if the player decides to live another year, inevitably they’ll die. I also added in the “Breathe” stages to give the player extra interaction and add more prose. I wanted to encourage replayability so that the player would cycle through all the possible disaster options.

My inspiration was many different things. Several different Twine games, including howling dogs by Porpentine, which deals with monotony, and Sentry by David Labelle, where you are in the position of a content moderator doing the same thing each day, and are sometimes inexplicably fired. Also, Romero’s The Mechanic is the Message game Síochán leat with its inevitable unwinnability which was mentioned in Works of Game. I like how the actual gameplay is what tells the story in the style of art games. I have more text than just mechanic, but the helplessness is the same; hopefully, it helps people understand more about the fragile state of the redwoods and calls them to action.

The download link is here. When you download and open it, it should open in your browser: https://www.dropbox.com/s/imk1zpceisyvq2a/petrucci%20tree.html?dl=0

 

Artwork 4: From Above

My Final Project, From Above, is a on-rails first person shooter in which the player is tasked with destroying as many enemy targets as possible in thirty seconds, while avoiding civilians. However, the twist is that there is no distinction between enemy and civilian, and there are no consequences for destroying any potential civilian targets.

The game is very simple, and short, but it aims to address the effects of warfare upon our modern society, and the effects of modern society upon warfare. With the advent of Unmanned Arial Vehicles (UAV for short), many soldiers are now completely detached from the suffering they inflict upon people. UAV pilots can be sitting in an air conditioned office thousands of miles away while dropping bombs on civilians from thousands of feet in the air. While the player in From Above isn’t that high up, being above and away from the people you’re killing makes it seem much less personal and nasty.

As mentioned above, players are unable to distinguish between civilian and enemy targets. The main reason behind this choice, and why there’s no score or docked points on the “Mission Complete” screen, is because, much like in real life, there aren’t many immediate consequences to these actions. Despite being one of the highest funded branches of the government, the military lacks accountability. As seen during the infamous My Lai Massacre,  the military would rather try to bury a massacre than convict those responsible.

In the end, the root of problems like detachment from the battlefield and the lack of accountability is the military’s detachment from the people they’re supposed to be helping. During the Vietnam War, the US Military was ostensibly trying to help the South Vietnamese, but a lack of connection with and understanding of the Vietnamese made their mission doomed to fail. The same can be said for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, who are told that the United States is trying to help them after their village is destroyed. The player character in From Above is ostensibly there to help the unnamed people who they end up bombing.

As for inspirations for this game, two of my biggest came from very different places. The first is Kieran’s Space Invaders game, in which the only way for the players to truly win the game was to not shoot at the approaching aliens. While what the player does in From Above doesn’t really affect the final outcome, I liked the idea of a game that subverts or messes with your expectations. The second is the famous, or infamous as the case may be, “Death from Above” mission in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.  While the player character is a AC-130 pilot instead of a UAV Pilot (meaning that they’re actually inside a plane right above the battlefield), the outcome is still the same. Death is rained down from above, and there is nothing that the moving dots can do about it. It is hard to tell whether the game was trying to make this a cool moment, or was actually trying to send a message by showing how cold and dispassionate this kind of fighting is, but it’s a mission that’s always stuck with me, and many others.

intransit: Final Project Artist Statement

Play: https://nikapaprika.itch.io/intransit-demo

It’s no secret that I’m fixated on trains, especially subways. I know nothing about the technical aspects; it’s more of an interest in their aesthetics, in the nature of being between destinations combined with the grittiness and the eerie feeling many subway stations have. There’s a quote from the fiction podcast “Alice Isn’t Dead,” written by Joseph Fink, that tends to come to mind: “While it’s you who leaves a place and you who arrives at a place, it isn’t necessarily you in between.” This can be applied literally, of course, but especially metaphorically, in terms of being between phases in life and the constant change someone goes through. It’s that connection between literal and metaphorical liminality that a lot of my work and my inspiration comes from.

This game is extremely personal. I came up with the initial concept when I first started college, moving into a new phase of my life. I didn’t get a chance to work on it until now, and in a way I’m thankful because in the time since its initial conception I’ve learned a lot about transitions and moving through life and making decisions. I feel like this is a work that will never truly be finished because of this constant personal development; hence, it’s unfinished now, because I didn’t want to rush it or force any contrived endings.

There are countless inspirations for this piece. The ones from class include pretty much all of the scores of Yoko Ono and their meditative, mysterious tone. ARGs like the Jejune Institute from the film we watched and even another classmate’s final project inspire me, too, since the nature of those games is to blur the lines between fiction and reality. My work often has to do with morphing reality, even if it’s a purely fictional narrative; I write about impossible things with a root in real experiences, abstracting emotions and events to convey how they feel, rather than the literal. Anything about breaking reality appeals to me, and I’m heavily inspired by works of surrealism and horror. Media that comes to mind along those lines are the SCP Foundation, an online fictional scientific wiki about strange things and places,  and the aforementioned podcast “Alice Isn’t Dead” and other works by the writer, such as “Welcome to Night Vale.” They treat impossible, terrifying, surreal things as normal, mundane happenings. “Alice” specifically is all about using horror as very blunt metaphor for society.

In short, any work that contradicts reality as we know it and/or can serve as an allegory for life inspires me. I tried my best to capture the strange, creepy tone I love in this game while making it very clear it means more than what it’s saying literally. I look forward to developing it further.

Artwork #4: Alpha’s Test

My final project was a narrative and puzzle solving game called Alpha’s Test, in which an artificial intelligence has been tasked with creating a test that it cannot solve, sort of like a Turing test. The problem is that Alpha, the AI, cannot imagine a test it cannot also solve.

You play as a bot, a little bit of Alpha set to trying the tests and, hopefully, at least for Alpha, failing them. At the moment there are eight total tests; Readiness, Counting, Pathfinding, Motion, Accuracy, Faith, Lava, Levitation, and The Final Test. Each test works on a different principal, using different mechanics and different settings to challenge the player. The entire time, Alpha is talking to you, explaining the tests, and telling you to quit. Alpha wants you to quit more than anything, so that he can succeed. The further you go, the more “QUIT ===>” buttons there are along the walls.

Each test gets progressively harder, and eventually, Alpha realizes that you will be able to solve any test that he can make a solution to. To this end, The Final Test has no proper exit, and Alpha laughs at you as you run from zombies that spawn around you to one of the quit buttons in the room, the only way out. This is a test where the only way out is failure, and the price of failure is a reset. This specific part was inspired by a document I saw about AIs cheating the rules of their tasks to complete them, such as oscillating to create “velocity”, clipping through walls to find the exit to a maze, or mating and eating the children for energy. Alpha figures out that the only way for him to win is for there to be no way for it to win.

The game as a whole is about the frustration of attempting to do something that is above your level, a feeling that I very much identify with fairly often. Alpha cannot create something he cannot solve, and I cannot draw the images in my head as they appear, perfect and pristine. The aesthetics of the game were inspired primarily by the Magic Circle, the Stanley Parable, and the Portal games, because of their shared theme of testing and puzzles with the guidance of a snarky and sarcastic friend/potential enemy.

I can’t actually upload the world file here because wordpress won’t allow it, but email me and I can send it over if you want to play it. 🙂

Gallery:

         

Artwork 4: The Monotony

For my final project, I knew what topic I wanted to do. Something that’s consistently been on my mind since I started college – monotony. It’s honestly my greatest fear – ending up in a cycle of just boring-ness every day. I don’t want to go to a dead-end job from 9-5 doing something completely unrelated to what I want to do just to go back and do it the next day. Therefore, I wanted to make a game based around the concept of “breaking the cycle.”

I found inspiration in several places, but mainly three. The first was a fellow classmate’s project, Kieran Sheldon’s “Fathom Society” ARG. In it, Miriam speaks of questioning the world around you, of poking holes in the universe, and of finding new realities. This tied in very well with my theme, as I wanted to experiment with finding new realities instead of consistently seeing the same one. The second was an ARG we learned about in class, the Jejune Institute ARG. In it, once again, we see a high focus on odd occurrences and off seeing the world around us in a different light. I wanted to channel the feelings of mystery and wonder it gave its participants into my own game. In it, the lines between reality and fiction are often blurred, so I wanted to create a game that distinctly makes the character wonder if what they see is real. The third main inspiration was a game titled “Every Day the Same Dream,” a small game based around the exact same fear I have in the future. In it, a man wakes up, goes to work in a cubicle like all the other wage slaves around him, goes home, and repeats. If you go far enough, you can make it on the roof, where you’re prompted with “Jump.” However, doing so puts you right back where you were, implying a cyclical hell. My desire to avoid this is what prompted me to try and make something that does so, and breaks that cycle. I also took inspiration from random other sources for various aspects of the game, such as Sword Art Online and Divergent.

As for the game’s medium, I eventually settled on making a Minecraft adventure map. I did this because I believe the game’s aim cannot be expressed well as a tabletop game, and because I don’t have the coding or artistic skill to make the game work in a traditional, coding based environment. Therefore, I chose something I do know how to work in well, Minecraft. It took a lot of Command Blocks and Redstone, but it serves its purpose well, at least I believe.

The game acts as an unofficial sequel of sorts to Kieran’s ARG. It takes place long after the events of our class, and you learn what has happened in the meantime, as well as the origins of Miriam and the Fathom Society.

I’ve linked a video of the map being played, as the world file is too big for WordPress.

Artwork 4: LACO

LACO: Live Action Coming Out

 

 

Artist’s Statement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The final game artifacts

 

Players split out into their different conversations

Changes Made Post-Documented Play Test

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

 

Rules:

Players 5 – 10

Materials

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

Setup

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

 

Game play

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

   3) After 10 rounds, players reveal their hands

Changes

Ending the Game

There are 4 possible endings:

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

 

Roles

Black

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

 

Red

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

Artwork 4: Proversation

Proversation

By Anthony Fanticola

This work intended to abstract the experience of attempting to bond with someone through conversation. This is a board game meant to simulate a conversation between two people in time. It is two player and the players work together to win. I drew out three elements of talking to someone and focused on representing them through the  main mechanics. The first quality I represented is a conversations presence through time, and how something said can not be taken back. I used a 4X6 grid where the tiles must advance towards each other every turn in order to incorporate time. Different sections of the grid mark different phases of a conversation. Each player then generates their ‘ideas’ which is composed of four tiles in the four lanes on the far ends of the board. There are three types of tiles, pink, blue and yellow, each represent a distilled version of the types of things you can say in a conversation. The phases of a conversation are broken up into sections: the partners conceiving their ideas, sharing/saying the ideas, then having the ideas interact with each other.

The first section the tiles are placed face down to represent how in a conversation you don’t know what the person is thinking. When the tiles move to the second section they are revealed which represents talking in the conversation. When all these tiles match up perfectly in this phase, the partners have found a similarity and have won. If the tiles don’t all match they move into the last phase, located in the center eight spaces, where they interact and the dominate qualities (tiles) of the ideas stay in their final row and become awkwardness/the mood of the conversation. Each players tiles never advance over the center of the board. These tiles interact with a rock paper scissors mechanic across the center line that determines the dominance: which tile gets to stay in their center row. Jokes (Yellow) beat facts (blue), Facts (Blue) beat complements (Pink), Complements (Pink) beat Jokes (Yellow). If the tiles are the same, the tile that approached stays; if they arrived at the same time they are canceled out.

The drive to create a game like this comes from wondering what people are thinking during conversations and how they are interpreting what I am saying. I am often drawn to comedy because if I can make someone laugh I know for sure where there mind is at that moment. I feel a rush when discovering similarities with other people and on the contrary to some degree I am terrified of saying something or delivering an idea that causes awkwardness or dissimilarity. My goal with this work was to simulate the experience of talking to someone with the goal of bonding with someone by finding commonalities. The win state was obviously inspired by Mastermind, a childhood game of mine, and describes the state of mental similarity I am trying to simulate with great accuracy.

Originally i was not going to suggest what the colors represented but I found that players engaged with the peace more when they are slightly prompted by something like “yellow means joke’” and from that slight push I overheard players coming up with slight narratives to what might be going on in the conversation. The hyper abstract representation of a conversation between two people is definitely takes notes from of the abstraction within Rod Humbles “The Marriage.” In The Marriage the player, “imagines what the outside influences might be, and hazards guesses at what dark forces are represented by the circles.” In the game players are left to interpret what the reactions between certain shapes mean, and if it weren’t for the title it would probably not be understood as a representation of marriage. This player-generated narrative behind how shapes and colors interact is found in Proversation when the players were left to interpret what colored tile combinations meant when composing their ‘ideas’ and instinctively building a narrative around the interactions between certain types of tiles being dominated/eliminated by others.

Iterations:

The game went through many iterations in order to achieve a balance where the game was not to easy or impossible. The main rule that I had to experiment with a lot which seemed to determine the difficulty level is when to play the tiles face down or face up. The first iteration was all face down, the second all face up. During these trials the main win-state was also to survive the whole deck without building up too much awkwardness with the rare super win state where the players played the same cards. Also, awkwardness existed when a players card crossed a line on the other side of the board and counted against the players, too much awk and they loose. Then I began to focus the game more around the rare win-state of a perfect match. I began to balance when the cards would be revealed in the sections of the board then made a boundary that the cards couldn’t cross (eliminating the awkwardness building mechanic). The game now ends when the deck runs out. There are eight of each color type in each persons tile deck.