My express/experience project is about how reaching out for help when you’re struggling with mental illness can be difficult. Often times, one can forget that it is even an option. To help players experience this, I’ve created what is essentially a score that asks players to sort playing cards from their hand into piles in front of them. The secret is that they can collaborate and help each other, but card game conventions makes them assume otherwise. The game always (in the two times I’ve playtested it) results in players reaching a point where they cannot progress forward but still have cards left in their hands. They would then ask about what to do from there. Eventually, they would ask a question along the lines of “can we trade cards?” or “can we collaborate?” This sparks an “a-ha” moment that results in the players quickly winning the game by working together.
A large part of the inspiration for this project actually comes from a critique I received regarding a different game I was designing. I was told that the other game was too much like “multiplayer solitaire.” It was meant to be a bad thing but I thought it could be turned into something more. I felt like a “multiplayer solitaire game” would be similar to how some people struggle through life alone, avoiding seeking the help of others, even though many would be willing to give it.
Another contribution to this project was the scores Fluxus artists have made. The way scores were very open to individual interpretation made me realize that I could essentially trick the player into thinking that there is a rule where there is none with my wording.
Since the rules and its phrasing are such a large part of what makes this project work, I will include the rules I read aloud to players during the playtest and during the final iteration:
This game is played with 2 – 4 players sitting in a circle. Use a deck of cards with the jokers removed. Start with seven cards in your hand. Allocate three spaces in front of you to place cards. The first cards placed in these three spaces can be any card. Subsequent cards have to be one rank different from the card previously placed (ie. 9 or Jack can be played onto a 10). Ace cannot be placed on a King and vice versa. Aces can be played onto a 2 and vice versa. You can pick up as many cards as you wish to reorganize. You can only draw cards if the number of cards in your hand is below seven. Your goal is to place as many cards down as you can.
This game is played with 2 – 4 players sitting in a circle. Use a deck of cards with the jokers removed. Shuffle the cards thoroughly and distribute cards to each player so that each player has seven cards. Allocate three spaces in front of each player to place cards face up. The first cards placed in these three spaces can be any card. Subsequent cards have to be one rank different from the card previously placed (ie. 9 or Jack can be played onto a 10). Ace cannot be placed on a King and vice versa. Aces can be played onto a 2 and vice versa. You can pick up as many cards from the three stacks as you wish to reorganize. You can only draw new cards from the deck if the number of cards in your hand is below seven. You win when you place all your cards. You do not lose if someone else wins. There are no other rules.
I made some changes due to the questions that people asked during the playtest. I tried to reword it so that it answered any potential questions people had other than the essential “can we work together?” question.
I asked one of the playtesters what he thought the game was about. He said it was about helping others. I would call this a success in terms of conveying my intended message. Even though he didn’t mention the part about how it can be difficult to ask for help, I think the experience of the game made him understood that without me or him saying it.
My final game is a text based adventure game written in a way to emulate the struggles someone with dyslexia has. You play a silence protagonist who also struggles with Dyslexia and goes on an epic adventure to distract themselves for the bullies that often torment them, along the way you explore an abandoned school, fight monstrous beasts, and meet a great mentor.
My game was mainly inspired by my own struggles with Dyslexia and having to overcome the difficulties that come along with this learning disability. I wanted the player to understand what it’s like for someone with dyslexia to read even simple sentences or words, as it is hard to describe the struggle to people. Using a text based adventure game seemed fitting to me as it is much like a book but more interactive, fun and engages the player in the story and world. Another big inspiration for this piece was Yoko Ono, a lot of her works took some ordinary object and would changed, and use it in a way that was out of the ordinary. I tried to do that in my game by take words and misspelling them in ways where the letters would still produce the same sounds and hopefully confuse the player, as it is very reminiscent of being dyslexic in my experience. I also took inspiration from games like Grimrock and old text based adventure games; exploring a dungeon, fight enemies and getting lost is what made those games enjoyable to play and I tried to recreate that experience in my game as well by the way I layed out the map and how the play moves around. I also think my game explores the idea of affordances; words are meant to efficiently express information yet in my game they do the exact opposite. Most of the words are misspelled which only makes it more difficult to understand the story and what is happening, and this is also very true for people with dyslexia as word are more of an obstacle for them. I really enjoyed making this game; I hope you have a good time playing it and learn part of the small struggle that people with dyslexia go through.
How to play:
You do need to have Java 11 downloaded on your computer in order for the game to run.
If it asks for an account when installing Java 11 you can use :
- First download the file above to your computer
- Next double click on the zip file
- Then open the folder that was created when you double clicked on the zip file
- After that right click in the .jar file named Dislecsic.jar and click run
- It should run the program it might also prompt you ask if you want to run it click yes.
- If you have any issues, encounter any bug or experience any difficulty please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“A big butcher’s bill was not necessarily evidence of good tactics.” – General Archibald Wavell in a telegram to Winston Churchill
A few months ago, the World War 1 game Beyond the Wire had a free weekend on Steam, and me and a couple of my friends wanted to try it out. When we got in game, we noticed that we were playing as soldiers of the German Empire in the year 1918. We proceeded to get absolutely destroyed by American and French forces and had no idea what we were doing. It was awesome. It truly captured the experience of being conscripted into the German Army in 1918.
While I originally intended to portray a fantasy version of the German Empire when I pitched this, I gradually became more interested in American involvement in the war the more I looked into WWI and what I wanted to do. The Battle of Belleau Wood stood out to me in particular, as it is viewed as the battle that gave the U.S. Marine Corps the fierce reputation they have today, and this was accomplished by charging into German machine gun fire through wheat fields and forests 6 times, the first 5 times just resulting in piles of dead marines. It was an interesting experience listening to the Sabaton song Devil Dogs, which focuses on the heroic bravery and ferocity of the marines which even at one point belts out the famous quote “Come on you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?” while reading about how the marines were yet again slaughtered by machine gun fire after attempting another charge. It’s interesting to contrast the heroic and glorious nature of the song Devil Dogs with the other song on their album about WWI such as Great War and Fields of Verdun which portray the war as cruel and pointless.
I thought about how one of my friends once told me about how in challenging dungeons in older edition of D&D players would bring stacks of character sheets anticipating that they would often end up ripped in half at the DM’s feet. I felt that this would be a good mechanic to base my entire revised game around. I made and printed out mass amounts of simple character sheets that had a minimal amount of fluff attached to it to suggest players could try to put some element of humanity into the characters they are playing but ultimately it wouldn’t matter. I also brought some minis and a rudimentary map consisting of a grid players would try to charge through that would gradually fill up with the dead bodies (knocked over minis) of their previous character.
The rules were simple You needed to cross through 6 squares in order to charge the German position. On your turn, role a d20. If it is above a 10, move forward one square. If it is 10 or below, knock your mini over as it has died there, I rip your character sheet, then take a new character sheet and put a new mini on your starting square. This version of the game worked exactly as I wanted it to. Despite the simplicity of the objective, no one made it to the end of board. All there was to show for their efforts was a pile of ripped character sheets and a battlefield of dead minis.
Something I wanted to add to my game but couldn’t find a way to incorporate smoothly was the findings of the Nye Committee. In my opinion viewing American involvement in the war as simply pointless obfuscates the more horrific reason that additional lives were shipped across the world to suffocate in mustard gas. While Germany resuming the use of unrestricted submarine warfare was used as propaganda to mobilize the American population the Nye Committee uncovered a far more probable cause to explain American involvement. Before America officially entered the war, it had leant the Entente 2.3 billion dollars and the Central Powers only 27 million. It was therefore in the interest of American banks and finance, who had an enormous impact on U.S. formal policy as the committee also uncovered, to ensure that the Entente wasn’t the side burning a hyper inflated worthless currency after the war ended, not to mention the activities and influence of the arms industry who also stood to make massive profits if America was to officially enter the war. While I felt that this would be a good complement to the mass death I portrayed in my game, I couldn’t think of a way to seamlessly integrate this in a way that didn’t dilute what I wanted my game to express.
Ultimately, I drew a lot of inspiration from the Surrealist and Dada movements portrayal of World War I as pointless and cruel, and while one could portray a more modern version of that through contemporary wars such as Iraq, Afghanistan, or even Vietnam, I decided to keep the focus on WWI, not just because of my personal fascination with it, but because of its massive scale in which an almost unlimited amount of stories could be told, including the development of American imperialist ambitions and foreign policy that would shape its involvement in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq,
Attached are documentation of a character sheet from my first iteration of the game that was focused on a fantasy German Empire, a character sheet for my second and final iteration as well as a pile of them ripped up, a map full of dead minis, and a deep fried image of a painting of the Battle of Belleau Wood that summarizes everything I’ve tried to do here, as well as a google drive link where higher resolution version of these images can be found.
No Pain No Gain Rules Document
Each game starts with two up to many players and each player starts with 3 gainz and 3 life.
In the start of the game, each player grabs one of the deck of cards in the middle along with three gainz and three life.
Each deck will include three gym cards: Chest Day, Back Day, Leg Day, three socializing cards: Gathering, Bar, Party, and one Rest Day card
After every player gets their starting cards, discard the extra decks of cards in the middle.
The game starts and rotates through Monday, Wednesday, and Friday where players can make their choices either to socialize or to work out or take a rest(can only take one rest day per week). After making their decision, players flip the card of their choice and put it under the weekday in the middle. After every player makes their choices, reveal the cards and collect rewards.
Here’s the layout of one week:
Hit Chest Day: collect 2 gainz
Go to a gathering: collect 1 life
Rest day: do not collect anything
Every week on monday there will be an event where the players can choose whether to skip. If the player is doing the event simply put a chip next to their card and roll the dice after revealing their cards.
Monday event(can be skipped): roll a four and above trigger success, roll a three below to trigger fail.
If you are doing chest day, hit bench without a spotter
Success:+2 gainz fail:-2 gainz
If you are going to a gathering, participate in a Poker game
Success:+2 life fail:-2 life
Hit Back Day: collect 1 gainz
Go to a Bar: collect 2 life
Rest day: do not collect anything
Hit Leg Day: collect 2 gainz
Go to a party: collect 2 life
Rest day: do not collect anything
By the end of each week, if a player has hit all three body parts, he/she collects 4 extra gainz but loses 3 life. On the other hand, if a player went to all three socializing events, he/she collected 4 extra lives and lost 3 gainz.
By the end of each two weeks, if the player has not taken any rest days, they will collect a mental illness card(which does not have a direct effect in the game).
End of each Month (every four weeks):
The player has to compare life and gainz with his neighbors if his/her neighbor has more gainz lose 5 gainz to his/her neighbor, if his/her neighbor has more life, lose 5 life to his/her neighbor
During the game if any of the players have negative life/gainz, he/she gets eliminated, and the game ends as the remaining players count their total number of life and gainz, whoever has the most wins the game.
If none of the players gets eliminated, the game goes on till the end of a semester(3 month/12 weeks), and whichever player has the most life and gainz wins the game.
For my final project, I decided to use my own experience as a college student and the way I see my peers spending their free time as an inspiration. Although college life grants the students a lot of freedom over their free time, it can be stressful when a student decides to never take a rest day and spend all their time doing activities. During the playtests of my game, I observed that most players will always go for activities(working out and socializing) which is the optimal way of playing the game even when they receive a mental illness card every two weeks. Just like in real life many people neglect the importance of taking a break, instead they would let their mental burden accumulate inside to live their life in an “optimal” strategy. Similar to Yoko Ono’s Blood piece: “Use your blood to paint. Keep painting until you faint. Keep painting until you die.” Some people would live their lives with little breaks, and they spend most of their free time socializing and doing activities until they are mentally and physically exhausted.
In this assignment, I created a game called Super Real School Life. I appropriated the the game mechanics from Monopoly. The gameplay is very simple. The player has to do is shake the dice and take the corresponding number of steps. Select a slip of paper after a date has arrived. There will be a score on the slip. Players start with a score of 50 points. When the player reaches 100 points the player wins, but if the player loses all his points, he loses. My inspiration came from the word experience. I think of my college life when I see the experience. I thought it would be fun to make a game out of my college experience. The notes were all things that I or any other student would encounter in daily life. In addition, my idea reminds me of my first artwork. In my first artwork, I use color to record my daily mood. The content of the notes in this game is also based on my mood every day. For example, I’m usually in a bad mood on Thursdays, so everything on the note will be losing points. If I have to ask what the meaning of this game is, I think it is that although there may be some bad experiences in life, there are still good things to happen. In my playtests, some were lucky enough to hit 100 points right away, and some were lucky enough to hit 100 points right away. But in my last playtest, the player had exhausted all the slips of paper and was still playing. I think these results are also very interesting, because I can see the luck of different people.
My intervention piece is a real-world game of Where’s Waldo. The way you play this game is by dressing up as Waldo and going around and trying to discreetly get in the back of people’s photos; that way when they look back at their photos they will see Waldo in the background and hopefully chuckle.
My inspiration for my game came from several places but my main inspirations were a Halloween Costume, which was Where’s Waldo, and the Pac-Manhattan game. In my senior year of high school, I got to participate in my Elementary School’s Halloween Parade and as the parents took pictures of their kid in costume I would stand in the background that way the kids could “find Waldo” later. The Pac-Manhattan game really interested me when we talk about it in class but it took a game from a completely different medium and took it into the real world; I really enjoyed that concept because it took something that most people would only consider a videogame and made it tangible. The goal of my game was to take the fun of the picture book game and move it into the real world by taking the normal convention of trying to void getting in someone’s photo and turning it on its head, by having the main objective to sneakily and discreetly get in the background of photos. There are some challenges with this though, my biggest struggle was finding a place where people are taking photos where you can reasonably get in the background, some great advice given to me was to go to landmarks or museums as those places often have high photo traffic and tourist taking photos. Some common issues I ran into were that people would sometimes position themselves in ways where you couldn’t get behind them, ie up against a railing or wall, another issue was closing the distance between the people taking the photo and where I was. I of course didn’t want to run as that would draw unwanted attention to me and ruin the point of the game.
The photos Above are some of my attempt at this game. On the left was me “ruining” my friends photo of the statue outside the MFA. The center is me and some friends near the Boston Commons, they were helping me get photos of me playing the game but sadly I was very unsuccessful as I struggle a lot getting in the background of photos. On the right is a fun game for you, somewhere in that photo I am hidden, and I challenged you to find me, good luck.
The inspiration for this artwork comes from Life is Strange – this is a game full of details. In the game process, players need to make many choices, but the game has only two endings and is only related to the last option. This usually makes players doubt the significance and importance of what they do. Some people may be unhappy with this design, but I think the experience reflects the nature of life in a way.
Usually, the games that players come into contact with emphasize that “small choices can also bring great changes.” For example, in another game I like very much, Papers Please, what players do is just seal the passport of immigrants, but in the end, it can determine the life and death of many people and even the future of the country. And I want to take this opportunity to bring people an experience that violates this “hidden rule of the game.”
Process: I prepared 40 unrelated two-choice questions and printed them on paper of different colors. Before starting, I told participants that this was a test (but would not disclose the purpose), asked them to choose among these options, and could stop the process at any time. During the process, I will record their reactions (the answers to these questions are almost irrelevant, and they do not lead to a specific result) and inform the project’s purpose after the participants ask to stop or the questions are exhausted. That is: not every choice will have far-reaching consequences, and not every option has important motives behind it.
In my observation, I found that participants tend to spend time thinking and choosing the option that best suits their actual situation. When finally told the results, the participants’ reaction is usually surprised – they think I will draw a conclusion based on these illogical questions, even if they have realized that these questions are absurd. This result can reflect people’s subconscious belief that all events and choices are causal and meaningful; But in life, this is not the case.
The inspiration for this experience piece came from playing the game Overcooked by Ghost Town Games Ltd., which roughly simulates the stresses of being an overworked cook in a complex kitchen environment. The stress one experiences from playing this game can be very closely related to that which we all experience over the course of our college experience, which is exactly what I was going for in my parody game Understudied. Just as Takako Saito would take the game of chess and modify it to convey a completely different message, I wanted to modify overcooked so that it would accurately simulate the stress of trying to complete many tasks at once in a small amount of time.
Understudied can be played by 4-5 players with one player being the moderator, and the rest either working together or against one another to complete tasks. The goal of the game is to complete ten assignments back to back with the least amount of grade deductions possible.
Rules as the Moderator:
- Begin by allowing the players 30 seconds to prepare and complete tasks before the first assignment is released.
- Release the first assignment by rolling 2 dice (for vs) or 4 dice (for co-op) and announcing whichever corresponding tasks are rolled from the assignment creation box (marked in blue).
- Upon releasing the first assignment start a timer for a minute (each assignment is due after a minute), releasing the next assignment 15 seconds before the current assignment is due.
- When assignment timers run out, check that the players have either recorded their completed assignments (for vs) or are all present on the school tile space (for co-op). If they have not completed all tasks or all players are not on the school tile, a half a letter grade must be deducted from their current grade.
- If a player crosses the red boundary at any time during the game, their piece should be moved to the “timeout box”. You must roll a d6 and assign this player a timeout time corresponding to a border event (marked in red).
Rules as a Player:
- Start at any tile on the board. *You should optimally position yourself in front of an assignment so that you can get started on it immediately when time starts*
- To begin tasks all you must do is use the arrow keys to move your piece to a tile adjacent to whichever task you would like to complete. Once adjacent to a task, begin a timer associated with that task. While this timer is running, you may move around freely and/or start another task if you would like.
- When a task timer ends, you must return to a tile adjacent to that task to complete it.
- *For Co-Op Only* When assignment is due, you and all of your teammates must be on the school tile in order for any of your tasks to be counted.
- You must not cross the red boundary lines at any time unless you are willing to accept a small time penalty.
Game Board for CO-OP and VS:
Short Video of CO-OP Gameplay:
Link to Parodied Game:
The initial idea for this game began with the game Depression Quest on Twine. I remember playing it and thinking it was insanely sad but somehow insightful into the life of people who struggle with chronic depression. I was trying to make choices I would make in real life, in the game. But the game had other plans and followed its own separate path. I also tried to think of things I most struggle with in my day-to-day life. I then decided I wanted to make a game on Anxiety on Twine. This game is thus an appropriation!
There was also part of the Reading Works of Game that really resonated with me: “Central to this type of work is ambiguity— of function or purpose, of operation, and of the role the objects play in our lives. 15 While these ideas may be familiar to artists, they are uncomfortable for most designers. With games, however, ambiguity is already a large part of the design process. The design of the system of a game-defining its actions and goals, creating the tone of the overall experience, and so on— shapes the space of possibility within which players complete the game through their play. Design-wise, the designed space of possibility leaves itself open to exploration and interpretation, which by its nature results in uncertain outcomes. The play experience cannot be known until the game is played. And even then, players are left to make sense of and determine their own intentions and the meaning of their experiences.” It felt absolutely crucial to make a game that was uncertain in outcomes, which is why I made a story based choice game on Twine!
The first iteration of the game was just different choices and not much description in the story! The feedback I got this round was that while the message of the game came across, it would be funny to use humour to add a light aspect to the game. Initially, I was apprehensive. The point of the game was to be hard and dark but on thinking and playing through it more, I wanted a side funny story!
The final prototype had three different story endings!
I’ve also attached the link to the game on Canvas since the link is HTML style and can’t add it onto here!
Sharp, John. Works of Game : On the Aesthetics of Games and Art, MIT Press, 2015. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/northeastern-ebooks/detail.action?docID=3339955.
Mental Health Final Project Game:
Description: The Mental Health Game is a 2-4 player semi-cooperative game where players have to survive a total of ten weeks, representing a real-life shortened college semester, by completing tasks each week. These tasks will represent what any normal student would go through where if the tasks aren’t completed, there will be some sort of punishment, whether it be your grade being lowered or your mental health being lowered. The main goal of the game is to complete all the tasks every single week and survive ten weeks without reaching a failing grade, or 60%.
Rules and Setup:
- 2-4 players
- Sheets of Paper for keeping Mental Health, Score, and Energy every round.
- 2 6-sided dice for energy
- Every week, players randomly receive 3 tasks that they must complete or they will receive some sort of punishment
- Players start at 100% for grades. If the students grades reach 60%, they are out of the game
- Mental Health starts at 5 where the highest it can reach is 10 but can go lower than 0
- Players can bring over a maximum of 2 energy per week
- Players can trade 1 Mental Health for 1 energy unless your Mental Health value is less than 0.
- Players gain 1 Mental Health each week
- Each Player rolls a 2 6-sided dice to decide their major at the start of the game. Players with the greatest roll value can pick their major first. These will give small bonuses or negatives towards the players depending on the tasks.
- Projects and Homework tasks take 50% less energy
- Tests and Quizzes tasks take 50 % more energy and failure means taking 1% more.
- Computer Science
- Projects and Homework tasks take 50% more energy
- Mental Health benefits give 50% more. Mental Health negatives are 50% less.
- Each Player rolls a 2 6-sided dice to decide their major at the start of the game. Players with the greatest roll value can pick their major first. These will give small bonuses or negatives towards the players depending on the tasks.
Code for Game (Randomizing Tasks Every Week): https://replit.com/@tsai-me/GameFinalProject
Tasks: List of Tasks: Anything with Group in front can be split between two or more players. Anything with Finals in front is for the last week of the game.
|Daily Chores||2||-1 Mental Health|
|Tests||3, -1 Mental Health||-5%|
|Study||1, (If you study on the same week with the test, you don’t lose mental health)||Nothing|
|Cumulative Studying||1 (Each time you perform this task, the final week tasks would cost .5 less energy.||Nothing|
|Finals: Test||4, -2 Mental Health||-10%|
Mental Health Tasks: List of Mental Health Tasks that the Players can decide on doing whenever they want during the game.
|Activity||Energy||Mental Health Gain|
|Hanging out with Friends||1.5||1|
Winners: The students that survived ten weeks of the college semester graduate. However, they soon realize that they will either have more semesters or graduate and go into the real world, facing the exact same issues of balancing their energy, mental health, and grades or work life wherever they go. They still see the sacrifice in mental health for better grades or better job opportunities or workload where they must constantly sacrifice mentally to essentially “survive” in a stereotypically world.
One of the most important aspects of an art game is that the game’s mechanics speak in some way to the player, creating some sort of underlying message that can somewhat criticize or shine light on a certain topic. While brainstorming ideas, I realized that I wanted to create a game that has some sort of impact on my daily life, specifically about a community that I am heavily involved in, while also including commentary on that community about its stereotypical norms. Thus, I created the Mental Health Game which wishes to speak about stereotypical college norms and how that affects any student’s daily life which then ultimately speaks about the mental health of students in college. This idea was inspired by reading about the ending of the art game Braid and the meaning behind Braid where I also wanted to create an impactful game that can be applicable to many people. Braid speaks about the obsession of people when working towards a goal where they can become so obsessed to the point of not understanding the circumstances of some of their actions. This is further reinforced with its main mechanic of time travel where the main character sees the mistakes that he made and only focuses on correctly performing the necessary actions to continue yet he still doesn’t realize the fault in even trying to continue. Many more games that we discussed in class and from the book Works of Games, such as The Marriage or the Passage, contribute to creating some sort of art game that can attribute or comment on a certain aspect of daily life or a controversial topic. The Marriage talks about the relationship and connection between couples while Passage also sneakily talks about the same message but in another way. Learning about all these different art games inspired me to create the Mental Health Game where I want to solely focus on the mechanic of trading a mental health value for an energy value. I wanted my game to somehow speak to the way many college students feel where they have to sacrifice their personal well being, whether it be mental or some other factor, to maintain their grades up to the standard they want them to be. To further create a realistic game, creating effects for picking majors creates the stereotypical feel of what many people believe what some majors actually feel in terms of mental health. Overall, I believe my message that sacrificing mental health becomes a key factor for any college student where sometimes maintaining their energy, mental health, grade, or any other factor becomes challenging. Furthermore, as college students graduate, they realize that they are stuck in a cycle of sacrificing mental health with other aspects of their lives.
Players deciding on how they should spend their energy depending on their major, amount of energy given, and the given tasks for that week. The laptop shows the tasks and the players write down the three values of Mental Health, Grade, and Energy.