When I began thinking of possible interventions for my project, I thought back to a story of how someone at my residence hall ordered delivery from Chipotle hall only to find it stolen. College is expensive, so its understandable that many students try to save money as much as possible, and while theft is absolutely not pervasive behavior, students are still notorious for going to great lengths to come by free food. Many of my friends have swung by booths and loaded up on free food and drinks being given out even if they absolutely hate the items. I felt that this relationship between college students and food was an excellent situation to intervene in.
One inspiration for my piece was inspired by the Jejune Institute ARG, specifically the elements where participants where given specific instructions to perform on their own. I also drew from the work of the Yes Men, as I enjoyed how their work involved intervening in public contexts.
My test piece was simple, I laid out an array of snacks alongside a handwritten note instructing for fellow students at the residential hall to take a snack and then leave a snack. I set this up in the residential hall’s basement, which is the area where the most students pass through. Since there are no actual tables down there I set the snacks up on a radiator. The goal of the intervention was to look at how students would act without supervision, so I left the snacks completely unattended until I checked on them. I wanted to see if people would follow the instructions and trade in a snack for one on the radiator or if they would simply take them. Most people who give out food on campus usually do so with ulterior motives, like trying to get people to join an organization, so I thought it would be interesting to create a situation where food is made accessible with seemingly no motive outside of building community. (Although staging an intervention is definitely an ulterior motive).
To my surprise when I came back 6 hours later to check on the snacks I found that there was actually more than I had initially left!
While some snacks like some Hostess pastries and Hi-chews had been taken, a plethora of new snacks had replaced them and more.
For my “final” iteration of this experiment, I noticed that the snack food that had been taken the first time were snacks that are generally considered to be higher end. With that in mind I decided to vary up the quality of the snacks to see if the better snacks were taken first.
Alongside more generic snack foods like potato chips and Oreos I placed higher quality (and more expensive) snacks like Milano’s, chocolate oranges, and Hi-chews.
Another change I made was to the note. The note I left in the first one was very informal, as it was made by nothing more than scrap paper and the first pen I could find. I made a more formal note in photoshop to see if it would affect how people interacted with the instructions.
After a few hours I went back to the snack arrangement and found that all of the “higher end” snacks were gone, with nothing to replace them.
However the most interesting occurrence I discovered at the end of the test day.
When the higher end snacks were gone, people actually followed the instructions of the note and traded in a snack for a snack.
I find the results of this intervention to be incredibly interesting. It seems that when the arrangement seemed more informal —with a handwritten note and cheaper snacks as a whole— people were more willing to not only follow the instructions, but actually support the project by donating foods without taking any away. However when the arrangement seemed more formal, with better snacks and a designed note, people were less willing to follow along as a whole. Another interesting occurrence is that when only the more generic foods were left people were once again willing to follow the instructions.
After getting the prompt for the final project, I quickly realized that I wanted to make the game revolve around language. Despite being something people use every day to communicate with each other, language is not explored in games very often, and I wanted to see what themes I could explore with it. I quickly settled on a game paralleling the way the English Language has evolved over time. After refining my idea more, I eventually outlined a game like Risk where the territory contested by players also equates to words in the English dictionary.
My chief inspiration was an art video game discussed in class where the player rearranged words in a sentence to manipulate the rules of the game itself. I really loved the concept of playing with words and it definitely sent in the direction of my finished project. Another inspiration was the concept of appropriation that often came up during class. I really enjoy games that play with the rules and concepts of existing games and I felt like doing so would be a good starting off point.
My first step in creating the game was making the map. Because the game involved players fighting over the English language, I felt like an appropriate map would be one of Great Britain.
The concept of the game is that each player takes control of one of four language groups that have influenced the English language: Old Brittonic, Anglo-Saxon, Old Norse, and Frankish. Old Brittonic was a Celtic language and the first spoken in Britain. Anglo-Saxon was spoken by Germanic invaders who conquered and settled Great Britain during the Dark ages. Old Norse was spoken by Scandinavian conquerors who settled large parts of Britain before being repulsed by the Anglo-Saxons. Frankish was spoken by the Normans who conquered Britain and established England as we know it today. Frankish was a hybrid Germanic and Romance language spoken in modern day France. In each region on the map were symbols that each language had a word for. When a player takes a region, they place a small slip of paper with that has their language’s word for the symbol on the region. Every symbol and its corresponding cards were also given numbers to make gameplay easier.
After I finished the map, I began to collect words from the four languages into a google sheet. This proved to be by far the most challenging part of this project. While I could find comprehensive dictionaries translating to English of both Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse, Frankish and Old Brittonic proved more challenging. Fortunately for me, in the English language’s history, Frankish sort of won out, and a lot of English words come from that language. Brittonic, on the other hand, was incredibly challenging. Brittonic was the first language spoken and Britain, and was gradually erased by a revolving door of Norse, Anglo-Saxon, and Norman-Frankish invasions. I was able to find some Brittonic words, but for the most part I had to delve into languages that evolved from it to fill out my list. For this I used Welsh and Breton, Welsh being the historical language of Wales and Breton being spoken in the French province of Brittany, which was settled by Britons pushed out of England by the Anglo-Saxons. Most of the words in these two languages are quite similar because of their common ancestry, but when the two disagreed I went for the Welsh word because I felt like the lack of French influence would make it better reflect Old Brittonic.
This is a good time to point out that I am not a professional linguist or a philologist (language historian). I tried my best, but my dictionaries are not perfect. Some other important factors to acknowledge are that during the time period these languages existed in, language was very decentralized and often changed region to region. Someone speaking Anglo-Saxon in one part of England was not necessarily speaking the same language as an Anglo-Saxon in another part. Also, while I’m pretty sure each word I found roughly translates to the symbols on the map, that doesn’t mean that the word precisely has that definition nor does it mean that there aren’t more precise words I could have used. That being said I was chiefly aiming for the appearance of old languages, and even if the dictionaries I assembled aren’t perfect, they still fill the purpose I needed them to.
After assembling the dictionary I began to piece together the physical game. I bought beads to be used as pieces, created the word cards, and printed out the map.
Because of all the research involved, I was only able to get my game together before the day where we presented, so it was also my first play test. Despite this the test went really well, but there were a few hiccups in the rules that needed to be sorted out on the go. Fortunately my group were super responsive and quick to give feedback one what could be improved. One great example was how in my original rules when one player attacks another and one has more pieces than another, the player with more pieces rolls more dice, just like in risk. However in my version the player with more dice adds the die together, which makes defending against much larger forces virtually impossible. The players quickly pointed this out early on so we changed the rule to the highest single die wins with tie going to the defender, which was the original rule from Risk.
I really enjoyed this project and I honestly think I might continue working on it. I already have some ideas on how to improve the game, such as making the map physically bigger and adding more regions, and it would be interesting to see how much I can polish it as a game.
1. Tear paper up into rectangles. The number of rectangles should be at least double the number of players.
2. On half of the rectangles, write the words “success” or “failure.” Fold these rectangles in half so that the word inside is not visible.
3. On the remaining half of the rectangles, write either gun, knife, or nothing. The number of each type of weapon is up to the group playing, but it is recommended to not have more than one gun and knife. Fold these rectangles in half so the word inside is not visible. Mark the outside of the rectangles in some way to designate that they are weapon cards.
Playing the Game:
1. To begin, have all players draw from the success/failure rectangles. This determines how their job in the robbery was performed. A “success” means there were no issues, and a “failure” means that they failed to adequately perform part of their job. Nonetheless, the robbery was pulled off successfully, and there are no extenuating circumstances as a result of their success or failure. Players are allowed to discuss their success or failure, and they do not need to show their card to corroborate their claim to success or failure.
2. Players are then introduced to the money. The amount of money and where it came from are not significant. If players choose, they can have one player empty the contents of their wallet, they can pool the money they have with them, or do anything they want to obtain the money for this game. The money is then placed in the center of the table.
3. Players now draw weapon cards. The gun card allows a player to shoot someone at the table, eliminating them from the game. The knife card allows a player to stab the person sitting next to them, eliminating them from the game. To attack with a weapon, all a player has to do is say “I shoot/stab [player name].” After the card has been introduced and every player is aware of the weapon, attacks with that weapon must succeed on a coin flip. When the coin is flipped, the player calls heads or tails. If the player is correct, the attack succeeds and the targeted player is eliminated. If the player is wrong then the attack fails and the weapon is taken by the first player who call for it. For example, Player A has a gun. He tells everyone at the table that he has the gun. Now, every attack with the gun must succeed on a coin flip. If Player A fails a coin flip Player B says “I take the gun,” then Player B has the gun and all of their attacks are also subject to the coin flip. Had Player A not disclosed that he had a gun, then his first attack with the gun would have automatically succeeded, but every subsequent attack would have been subject to the coin flip. If a player with a weapon is eliminated, then any player but the one who eliminated them may call for their weapon. If the weapon card has nothing on it, then that player has no weapon. If a player is shot or stabbed, they are eliminated from the game and cannot engage in negotiations.
4. Once weapon cards are distributed, players now negotiate for money. The player with the most amount of money at the end of negotiations gets to keep his money, while the rest is redistributed back to where it came from. Negotiations end when all non-eliminated players are in agreement that the negotiations should end.
My major initial inspiration for this game came from a realization I had relating to guns in games. When players are given a gun, they are given agency over a situation. In most games with guns, nearly all problems can be solved by shooting the gun, and using the gun tends to be the best, if not only, way to resolve a conflict. Therefore, I wanted to create a game that focused on this core aspect to weapons in games by placing it in a semi-realistic environment. My first major inspiration was Mechanic is the Message by Brenda Romero, as that set of games is almost always an inspiration for me. Making players think about what game mechanics are trying to get them to do is what I find to be most interesting about game design, and the goal of this game was to get players to think about what having the gun did to their position in the negotiation. My second major inspiration was 16 Tons by Eric Zimmerman. After my first iteration of the project ended in peaceful negotiation with no mention of the gun, I wanted to find a way to make players more driven to win. The way 16 Tons made players pay other players to move their pieces with one player being able to consolidate power and win by making the most money made me realize that having real money in play was the best way for me to get players invested in trying to win. While the initial version of the game used quarters, I had requested for my money back at the end of the game. In my second iteration onwards, I continued to use the same quarters, but allowed the player who had the most quarters to keep them while the rest was up to me. This resulted in the violence and power imbalance that I had intended. However, the weapon was not used as a bargaining piece like I had anticipated. Instead, the weapon was used as a means of countering perceived threats. If one player suspected another of being armed, then they would attack, but they would not attack without that fear. When only one player had a gun in the first iteration, I believe that the lack of another threat in part discouraged the player from attacking, which led to the introduction of the knife.
Draw a line on a piece of paper
Line length is based on how long you slept
Line straightness is based on how well you slept
Repeat the process every morning on the same piece of paper.
I was inspired by Yoko Ono’s Painting by Hammer and Nail and former student Justin Brady’s Dream Paper. In both, of their works, a person repeats an action every day in the morning. I wanted to do something similar, and the idea came to me one morning when I had a terrible night’s sleep that I wanted to make a visual representation of how my sleep went.
The main purpose of the art piece is to ritualistically document your sleep and give the quality/length of your sleep some kind of physical form. The first 2 photos are the month of September-October, and then October-November. The last one (the reason why this is so late) is finals week. The first month is substantially more erratic, as my sleep schedule was really messed up, and I wasn’t sleeping well/going to bed at reasonable hours. The second picture shows a much more reasonable sleep schedule. At the time, I was going to bed around midnight and waking up at like 7-9am. I slept very consistently during that time when I wasn’t sick. The final picture shows finals week (or like this past week since most of my finals were due this week.) As you can see, I only slept 5 out of the 7 days, and the sleep mostly was bad quality and short, except for Wednesday where I took a day off to rest.
The game originally started from my experience this semester. Being my first semester away from home, and also just really struggling with my own problems mentally, it was a very challenging semester for me. It was hard to get the work I needed to do, and it was hard to find the motivation and energy to do what I needed to do. I
I was then inspired by the idea of affordances that showed up in the book World of Game. I wanted to have a mechanic that you knew intuitively was supposed to be about moving forwards, but the mechanics of the game made it so that you didn’t want to. I decided to go with a dice roll. In most board games, you use a dice roll to decide how far forward you go, and you’re constantly waiting for your next turn to roll the die. I wanted my game to mess with that perception and make it so that you constantly dread having to roll the die.
The final game ended up being played on a calendar. You could play it on a screen and just keep track of the days, or just play it on a normal calendar. The month does not matter but playing on months with fewer days is easier than playing on ones with more. There are also 4 “stats” that you have on your character. You have happiness, motivation, stress, and energy. You start off with 5 happiness, 5 motivation, 0 stress, 5 energy. Each stat can range from 10 to -10. You can take actions that will allow your happiness, motivation, energy to exceed 10 (the number will remain at 10), but you cannot take actions that will allow them to go lower than -10. The opposite is true for stress (can go below -10 but not above 10).
Every turn your roll a six-sided die and you move forward a number of days equal to the roll, and you get an event depending on your roll. The event is divided into these ranks:
- rank 0 (roll of 1)
- rank 0 is a special rank where it is meant to simulate a break. It has no options but just gives you an overall boost to the rest of your stats.
- rank 1 (roll of 2 or 3)
- rank 2 (roll of 4 or 5)
- rank 3 (roll of 6)
You then have three options for each of these events. Options 1 and 2 have a motivation requirement, meaning that you cannot do that action unless you have high enough motivation. Option 1 is the best option, which has a heavy energy cost but has positive effects on the rest of your stats. Option 2 is a gamble that has a smaller motivation requirement, where you have a certain percent chance (based on the rank) of success. If you succeed, you get a slightly negative consequence to your actions. Failure, however, has a more substantial negative effect. The third option is almost completely negative, but it is the only option that gives you extra energy other than rolling a 1. Unlike the other two, the third option does not have a motivation requirement, so if your motivation is too low you will have to choose this one.
There is a mechanic I call “fake motivation” that’s also implemented. Basically, you can sacrifice 1 energy or 2 happiness to get one point of fake motivation. This point of fake motivation does not change your current motivation numbers, but you can use it to use an action that you normally wouldn’t be able to do because your motivation was too low. For example, if you had 6 motivation but wanted to use an action that requires 7, you could use 1 energy to let you use the action. However, if you were to lose motivation because of the option you took, you would subtract the number from 6, not 7.
You win the game if you were able to finish the month, and you lose if you are unable to use any actions without one of your stats going below -10 (or above 10 for stress). The game is very hard to win, and even if you do win you often end up with many values in the negatives. The game is designed so that you value motivation and energy over your happiness and stress levels.
The game succeeded in what it was trying to do. Most players struggled to finish the map, often losing before the final stages. Even those who ended, often ended with many negative values. The best result I saw was the following:
Scenario link: https://northeastern-my.sharepoint.com/:w:/g/personal/elsayed_s_northeastern_edu/EZZIohBIl0dJoyXRiSypb1EBs4tyD6bSSw6IjJ56sot-3w?e=CkD5QR
How to Play:
Each day, the player must perform a certain number of activities to fill their day with. There are 5 different activities to choose from:
Sleep – wait for 30 second timer
Eat – roll 2 dice until you get certain numbers
Exercise – spin a wheel to determine a random exercise to do
School – answer 10 simple math questions
Fun – play a round of Snake
Normally, players can do 4 of these activities per day. At the start of each day, the player rolls a d20. If they roll a 20 on a weekday, or an 18, 19, or 20, on a weekend, they can choose an extra activity on that day. If you choose not to Sleep, Eat, or Exercise on a given day, your Health will go down by 5. If you don’t do your Schoolwork, your grade will go down by one letter, resulting in a Game Over if you reach an F. If you choose to have Fun, your score will increase. The goal of the game is to make it to the end of the month while keeping your Health and Grades as high as possible.
The goal of the game was to simulate the feeling of having to budget your time when you already don’t feel you have enough of it to do everything you want. The “twist ending” (for lack of a better term) of the game would be that the highest health possible you could achieve was 100, so your score didn’t really mean anything and if you ever sacrificed your Health or Grades for Fun, you lose. The only time when the player is supposed to be able to choose Fun and still win is when they roll high on the d20 at the start of their day, which simulated having extra free-time on that day. This game overall was meant to symbolize the experiences I and many other people (in particular college students) have had in which we have all of these things that need to get done in order to maintain a healthy and productive lifestyle, but the sheer volume can be overwhelming sometimes and when we choose to take some time and relax, the relief is only short term and is overall detrimental to achieving that “productive lifestyle”.
The biggest inspiration for this game was probably my own score for project 1 (even sharing its name), which involved slacking off on certain obligations and responsibilities in order to have “fun”, which in turn becomes an unhealthy cycle that is very much not fun. That piece was inspired by Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece and other similar works that involved something dangerous or actively detrimental to the one performing it. Another inspiration for my game was Brenda Romero’s Train, in the sense that you are working towards a goal throughout the game, but once it’s over, the true nature of what you’ve been doing is revealed, and you now should have a different view of what your actions have caused after seeing them in this new light. One final inspiration for my game could be Dadaism as a whole and the general nonsensical aspect of it. Many of the actions you actually take in my game are meant to symbolize activities that are really not that similar to them but still somewhat make sense, such as rolling dice to symbolize finishing a meal, or just watching a timer for 30 seconds to simulate sleep. It may have even been more subconsciously, but I think the abstract nature of the Dada movement may have played a role in how I landed on these ideas for how I would convey the feeling of the activities I chose.
Below are some photos of my game being played, as well as a Google Slides link where you can play it yourself
Antarctic Survival: https://yuren1027gmailcom.itch.io/antarctic
Controls: A and D to move left and right respectively. Left Shift to slide to gain speed, and Space to jump.
Game Genre: 2D platformer
My project is a 2D platformer named Antarctic Survival, where the player navigates a parent penguin and its offspring through a series of obstacles. The game was loosely inspired by documentaries I’ve watched regarding penguin survival, and the idea was conceived upon skiing. The levels are designed around testaments to parenthood, where the player can choose to opt to give up the baby penguin and the game is relatively easy. Certain levels require the player to put the parent in potential danger to secure the baby. Even when the two penguins are parted, the player needs to pay attention to the baby to avoid obstacles. As I am unexperienced with game programming and unity, much of the game is unfurnished in the sense of resets and winning. The game comments on the harsh natural environment and the cruelty of survival, as well as the difficulties of parenthood. As I’ve mentioned, I’m not proficient with unity, and I decided to put in more work into the level design to explore the topics I set out to incorporate and comment on in my game. While I personally have not been a parent, I’ve grown up as an offspring to wonderful parents that I know would do anything for me, and I am forever grateful for their love. I tried to tie the affordances of my game to conscience decisions players have to make as the parent penguin.
For my final project, I ended up making a YouTube video that can be seen below:
When I first imagined making this project, I thought back to a looooong time ago, back when youtube had a little feature called annotations. And Certain creators would use annotations to add little comments or links mid video to direct viewers. While the feature had long been nixed, I knew that there must have been some way to do it using youtube’s endcard feature. So I decided to make a little choose your own adventure type game within the boundaries of YouTube. As for the material in class that inspired me, the idea of affordances in “Works of game” Came to mind, where the idea only having semi restrictive tools to work with, forced the developer to get creative.
I’m so excited that I put the idea that I had before I came into college into this game!
When the first time I started to play cooperation game, I enjoyed it. I really loved how people did the teamwork and finally won. Even until now, the cooperation game I play is like purely cooperation. For example, Human Fall Flat and Minecraft. In these games, people can assign works for each other and survive in an easy way. However, when I start to read the novels and movies, I know that we can’t easily understand what the other people think in the end of the world. I see so many people betray their friends even families for a chance to be alive. They even kill the others to make sure that they have enough food. That’s the real cooperation situation under the end of the world.
Thus, I create my game like this. The background is in the end of the world that people live in the shelters. The 4 players are the refugees going from the original shelters to the next. They are a team, however, they get the informed that only 1 survivor who finally arrives at then next shelter will be accepted. If there are more than one survivor, the one who has got most money will be accepted. They need 10 days to go to the next shelter. They will meet dangers or treasures in the day and do somethings secretly at night — find food, money or assassinate (1 damage to any player). It’s a game of cooperation and competition.
In the first version of my game, it was a little bit mess. Assassinate didn’t have got CD and they have enough food so that everyone was just trying to kill each other. The robbers they met at day only take 1 money from them which was not excited. However, the treasure works well. There are two kinds of treasures — money and food. There’s a box named “4” or “5”. The 4 players should decide the sequence by themselves, and they could take any quantity they want from the box. It made the conflict in the team! It was a tragic that one played got assassinated in three nights by all teammates. That’s why I added the CD for assassinate.
In the second version, I changed something. “Robbers” need every player to pay 4 golds in total. However, every player secretly chooses how much money they want to pay. If there’s not enough money, every player loses 1 health! It works very nice! Additionally, since the CD of assassinate, no one tries to kill the target only by assassinate. Here’s some pictures from the second play test. I record what happened every day.
After the second play test, I had a new thought immediately! The idea is from Yoko Ono’s work “Cut Piece”. Ono sit on the stage with her best suit. There are scissors in front of her and the audiences were asked to use it and cut the suit into piece. I do the same thing. When the game ends, I add a new step. Firstly, if the final player doesn’t arrive the next shelter, all other three players sit together to see if the final player can survive by him/herself in the next days. Then, I take all records of the game (like the 4 pictures up there) one by one and read them aloud about what everyone did every night. It’s like I’m using the scissors to remove the disguise on their face. I’m also interesting to see what will happen when they see the true face of the other players.
Pieces: 4 circle with the numbers 1, 4, 2, 8, 5, 7 printed on them in a clockwise sequence, cards (regular playing cards), 4 sets of labels (numbers 1-6 each in a cutout of the 4 suits in cards)
Mechanics: Only Ace, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8 cards are used in this game. All cards played or swapped will be face down so no one can see the card. Shuffle the cards, then deal 6 to each player. Each player needs to put their labels down in front of them in order. They can play 1 card each turn in any position in their own spots, or swap two cards in any positions (their own cards as well). They are not allowed to look at the card before a swap, but they can look at it once the swap is complete. If the player is swapping with another player, both players can look at the cards, but only after the swap. To win, the player needs to have a combination of any of the cyclic numbers in their slots (142857, 285714, 428571, 571428, 714285, 857142), which would be presented to them in the circle. Once a player thinks they have the winning combination, they can flip their cards over to show everyone. If they do, they win. If they don’t, the player can flip their cards back, but they would be at a massive disadvantage.
I’ve always felt I have a certain vicinity with numbers. Finding patterns in things, especially number related, has always been very intriguing to me, perhaps one of the reasons I like puzzles so much. There are a lot of numbers that demonstrate very cool patterns, and we see them all the time, but we do not really use or care about the patterns. One of these patterns is cyclic numbers, particularly 1/7. It is the only cyclic number in decimal, and we use it decently frequently because 7 is not an uncommon number. 1/7 = 0.142857 repeat, and these exact digits are repeating in all its whole number multiples, except the starting digit of the sequence is different. I’ve been talking to some old friends and new friends recently about their recent experiences, and I keep observing a same sort of pattern in their experiences as well. We came to a conclusion of sort that some things will keep changing, but as long as a core part of things stay the same, some elements will also stay the same. During quarantine and the spread of COVID, most of us have to stay in at different times, and we are all dealing with different issues that contact with each other just slowly fades away. Some of my old friends that are in college choose to study abroad or go on a mission with their church, and their communications would be even more limited. Some of my friends who are not yet in college but will be very soon fears that they might lose their old friends. But all in all, if we all try to remain in contact with each other, and our feelings are neutral, we can always be friends and support each other in our own ways. I think some of the game pieces that we learned about earlier in the semester could definitely convert similar feelings into a mechanics that can express such a feeling of everything changing but nothing changing as well. The scores we learned about, especially some of the Yuki Ono pieces that use extremely simple mechanics, and white chess, a game where it is extremely difficult to play because of the change of mechanics came to mind. I also wanted to feature things people have access to fairly easily in their lives in the mechanics, because this feeling is not something rare, but rather something that just comes up once in a while when I am alone or talking to someone I am close to. Therefore I chose to use cards, and their suits to represent the players. I really enjoy the suits of the cards because they are easily accessible, and trying to create a combination of the number with different suits and different colors can make the player feel the change more than just all cards in the same color. I wanted randomness in the game as well because I think a certain degree of randomness is very fun, and life is filled with surprises. In the end I think the game ended up at a good place, and the playtests went pretty well, and players even came up with different play styles.