Recent Posts

Jackson Faletra Intervention: Post-Game Interview

Initial Ideas

For my project, I had decided that I wanted to something within a game whose community I considered myself a part of. Unfortunately, I don’t play a ton of online multiplayer games, which limited my options to pretty much just Hearthstone. The other problem with this decision was that Hearthstone does not have a built in chat feature to communicate with your random opponents, you can only chat in-game with people on your friends list. There is a feature that allows you to send a friend request to your most recent opponent, but most people who use that do it to trash talk or harass their opponent after a frustrating game. Thinking about that possible roadblock gave me the idea of creating a scenario with that expected/implied interaction, and flipping it on its head to see what would happen. From there, the Post-Game Interview was born.

The Process

The idea was to add my opponent after a game and, if they accepted, I’d ask a small series of questions about our game: “how long have you been playing today?”, “how much did you enjoy our game?”, and “did you feel we ere evenly matched?”. I wanted to be able to discuss our game in a calm, civilized manner, completely counter to what usually happens in this situation. I felt that this premise was simple enough to be able to do many times, but still be able to create a meaningful interaction. It’s a good thing it was so easy to repeat, because, unsurprisingly, not many of my opponents were willing to participate. Of the 20 or so games I played during this stretch, only 5 of my opponents actually accepted my friend request so that I could actually conduct an interview. The low participation was an interesting, albeit expected, point of data, but I was luckily still able to find out some pretty interesting things from the other data I collected.

Results

Firstly, I was only added back by opponents who had beaten me. This was a bit surprising, as I would’ve guessed that most players would expect a losing opponent to send a friend request with hostile intentions, but these 5 seemed to either not expect that to be my intention, or just not care. Another interesting thing I noticed about these opponents had to do with the in-game emotes. I, and many others who play Hearthstone, usually like to give a friendly Greetings to our opponent at the start of a game, but not all players do this. However, all 5 of my interviewees had returned my Greetings which I found interesting. Finally, from the interview questions themselves, most of these players had only been playing 1 or 2 games so far in this session, and they all ranked pretty highly in their enjoyment of our game and felt we were at least somewhat evenly matched. Overall, I would call this Intervention a success. It was fairly difficult to get participants due to the nature of my idea, but I feel that the people who did participate were given a nice experience in a usually hostile situation, which was really my whole goal. On top of all that, I was also able to collect some interesting data about a game I really enjoy, which was a nice added bonus.

 

One of my interviews

Artwork #2 Appropriate Reverse Poker

For this assignment we were tasked with creating a playable game that involved the use of appropriation. For my game I essentially took Texas hold ‘em style poker and made a single change to the gameplay: the way the cards are held is reversed. The change makes it so that instead of players taking the cards and holding them in a way that stops the other players from seeing them, the cards are held so everyone but the player they belong to knows what they are. I dubbed this version “Reverse Poker”, or simply “Rekop”

The simple act of reversing the way hands are held completely changes the way the game is played. In a conventional game of poker players make decisions based on their confidence in their own hand, and can only theorize as to what other players might have. With the hands reversed, the game is now about weighing the strengths of other people’s hands while trying to figure out how good your own is. In my test games the first few hands felt like shooting in the dark, as without knowing our hands it felt like we lacked vital information needed to make decisions, but as we got more comfortable, viable strategies began to reveal themselves. At one point I was convinced to fold by another player’s confidence in their own hand only to find out my hand was actually much better, and another time I began to play uncharacteristically aggressive because I had figured my hand was statistically the winning since I could see everyone else had complete junk. Effectively the core of the game had changed from convincing others of the strength of your hand to convincing them that their own hand was weak, whether or not it is true. In one memorable instance, one player had three kings —an incredibly strong hand— causing every other player to fold immediately, much to the winner’s bemusement. This led me to discover that unlike in regular poker, where you want your hand to be as strong as possible, in reverse poker the ideal hand is good enough that it beats everyone else’s, but not too good as to discourage other players’ confidence in their hands or to risk using mind games, as the longer the game goes, the bigger the winnings that are up for grabs. I had decided to use the Texas Hold’em variation of poker after comparing it with other variations of the game for two reasons: The first being that I felt that having only two cards in one’s hand would make determining its contents easier for the players, and the second being that Texas Hold’em is very simple and by far the most popular variation of poker which would make it easier for players to pick up my take on it.

The chief inspiration behind my idea was Yoko Ono’s white chess set. This artwork is a game of chess in which every piece and square on the board is painted white. I really enjoy the concept of changing a familiar game so that it adds an extra dimension to it or changes the experience completely. Ono’s change doesn’t render the game unplayable, rather it changes the experience so that players not only have to outmaneuver their opponents, but also remember whose piece is whose. When I was first introduced to this artwork I began to think about how I would have altered the game of chess, and started applying that thinking to other games, eventually coming up with reversed poker. Another inspiration behind my idea are the many different “formats” for playing magic: the gathering, a trading card game. Aside from the standard way to play as prescribed by the official rules, there exist a number of variations that toy with the game’s mechanics, like deck size, life totals, card colors, and creature types. My favorite variation is called commander, which is a format meant for large groups of players that makes massive changes to the standard game. Commander was originally created by fans, and I’ve always enjoyed the fact that actual players have put their own spins on games that they love, which inspired me to put my own spin on things.  

The Poker Chips we used in our games were generously provided by my classmate Jackson, who also created a poker based game.

.

 

Artwork #2: ABCDEFGHIKeyboard

Requirements:
A keyboard that is remapped so that the keys are laid out as abcdefg like in the picture below (both keycaps and the actual inputs).
Some typing test website (monkeytype.com for example).

Rules:
Perform a 60-second typing test with the keyboard.
You may restart as many times as you would like.
Try and get the fastest speed you can with this new layout.

Artist’s Statement:
The game is meant to critique how as a society we sometimes implement things without considering why they were done that way just because “it’s always been that way.” We currently don’t know who or why the qwerty layout was invented. A common theory is that it was to slow down typists so that a typewriter wouldn’t get jammed, but there is no supporting evidence for that theory. There are other layouts that have been invented since, such as Colemak or Dvorak, that are more efficient ways of typing on a keyboard. Unfortunately, we don’t pick up these layouts simply because its not worth relearning how to type, and most of us already are accustomed to the qwerty layout.

This game is meant to poke fun at that by asking you to type in a comical layout: the order of the alphabet. It was heavily inspired by Yoko Ono’s White Chess, which is where the idea of taking a game and making it more challenging by messing with the components to drive the message across came from. I think the game ended up being actually very fun to play. It provided a lot of friction but felt very possible and that the next time you attempted the challenge you would do better than the last. The game itself felt fair, even though it was very difficult to get a good time, which ended up making it quite popular among other students. I was also inspired by a video I watched called “How I went from 10 to 130 WPM in 3 months” from YouTuber pinguefy in which he talks about swapping to a different keyboard layout. The initial struggle he showed of learning it and having to retrain the muscle movement in his hands played inspired the keyboard aspect of this piece

.

Intervention Project: Pacifist Valorant

For my intervention, I decided to try and go into a game of Valorant deathmatch and make friends with people by peacefully running around and not hurting anyone.

This intervention project was initially inspired by a YouTuber named Ymfah who is well known for his challenge runs of games such as Skyrim and the Dark Souls series. One of his most popular ones is to complete these games “pacifist,” in other words to complete these games that the developers designer around the idea of you killing enemies, He would intentionally find ways to bug out the game so that he would be able to beat it without having killed anyone himself. One of the jokes that he makes about this concept while he plays is that pacifism is having other people do the killing for you. I’ve attempted pacifist runs of these games in the past, and it’s a very fun additional challenge. I like the idea of trying to play the game with an added rule included to make it incredibly difficult. Combining this idea of “pacifism” and also inspired by previous posts such as Pacifist Apex, I wanted to try making friends with people I encountered in the game. I was also a little inspired by the Jejune Institute by trying towards the end to get people to basically “sign up” to being pacifist by joining me in the act. It felt similar to the way the Institute would rope in random people who were just getting on with their day into something else, even though this was on a  much smaller scale than that of the institute.

The original concept for my intervention was to go into the standard 5v5 mode for the game with a bunch of friends and try to get the enemy to act peacefully towards us. However, this idea was quickly scrapped, because the enemy usually didn’t care for making friends and would just steamroll us to a very quick victory. So instead, I tried to do it in a game mode that people cared less about winning: deathmatch. In Valorant, deathmatch is a 14 player free-for-all where the first to 40 kills wins in an 8-minute timespan. If 8 minutes pass and no one has reached 40 kills yet, then the player with the most kills is decided as the winner. People take this mode a lot less seriously than the normal 5v5 game mode, and most people use deathmatch as a way to warm up for the real game. My plan was simple, I would run around with my knife out (a kind of accepted way to show that you’re not hostile) and spam crouch/jump as a way to try and communicate with the enemies that I’m friendly. I didn’t want to use the all-chat, as it felt like it would be too easy and would defeat the purpose of the intervention.

The results were much more interesting. Every game, there were a couple of people that would join me and act peacefully.  In one game, there was a moment when two other people decided to be peaceful and friendly, and we jumped around in a huddle for a few seconds. There were also some people who would pretend to be peaceful by pulling out their knife, only for them to attack me with it and get a free kill. There were also a couple of people who became invested in the idea of “protecting me,” which was also very interesting. Overall, this turned out to be a fun and surprising intervention, and I enjoyed playing it.

Gameplay footage of some games:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1sWp0FKs4NqSKF_NddaDbRJRJdchunka9/view?usp=sharing
https://drive.google.com/file/d/16dAMieakv56i1rzQl6NGy0XNVi_0ophJ/view?usp=sharing

Aaron Cai’s Intervention Project – Squid Game in CS:GO

For my intervention project, I decided to intervene in the game of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). The game the way it’s normally played is as follows: players face off against each other in two teams of five, fighting with guns and grenades over objectives. I wanted to turn that convention around by constructing games within the game that mirror the games in the popular Netflix show, Squid Game. Squid Game is a Korean drama about people in enormous debt being recruited to play children’s games for eccentric billionaires’ spectacle with the prize being the equivalent of millions of US dollars and the penalty of losing being death. It is an interesting critique on the failures of capitalism. There are three games I appropriated from Squid Game: Red Light Green Light, Marbles, and Squid Game.

Red light Green Light was played in the show with a giant automaton turning its head towards and away from the players while singing a song that translates to red light green light. When it says green light and the head is turned away, the players are free to move. When it says red light and the head is facing the players, players are not allowed to move. The ones who are caught moving are shot. The players have to reach a line near the automaton, which is some distance away from the starting location, within a time limit. Those who do not make it within that time limit are also shot. For my project, I took on the role of the automaton and would turn away from and turn towards the player while saying red light green light correspondingly. The players started with their backs against a wall and their goal was to reach the wall where I was standing. During the testing, I messed up a bunch of times, saying the wrong thing, like green light when I was facing the players or red light when I was facing away. Thankfully, the testing gave me enough practice that I was able to execute my part without a mistake during the actual thing.

Marbles was played in the show by pairing up the players and giving them ten marbles each. They were told to play whatever game they wanted, but one person had to end up with twenty marbles at the end of a certain time limit. The one without any marbles was shot. One pair in the show did this by betting all ten marbles on one game, they threw a marble at a wall, and whoever got it closest to the wall was the winner. For my project I had the players throw decoy grenades at a wall, and whoever got it closest was the winner. The decoy grenade was a good choice because it stayed around on the ground for a while, unlike the other grenades, so we could see where each one landed clearly. I did not have enough players to have them pair up (there were only three left at this stage) so I had them all do it together as a group. The player with the worst throw was shot.

Squid Game was played in the show on a pattern on the ground shaped vaguely like a squid. One player was the defender and one was the attacker. The attacker had to try to get to the head of the squid, and they would win if they were to do so. The defender has to prevent that from happening and try to get the attacker to step outside the squid. If the attacker stepped outside the squid, they would lose and the defender would win. The two contestants were also given knives and it basically devolved into a knife fight to the death. For my project, I had originally wanted to draw the squid on the ground with bullet holes, but the pattern proved too elaborate for the game system, which would erase bullet holes after a certain number of other bullet holes has been created. I would draw it partially and the first couple of bullet holes would start disappearing. So I figured just a knife fight to the death with no boundary restrictions was close enough to the show.

We played my version of Squid Game in Counter-Strike with four players. One player was eliminated from each game, resulting in a winner being determined by the end. Unfortunately, I had an issue with my recording software and my voice was not captured in the videos.

Video clips from the testing: https://youtu.be/pUd11SJNtK0

Video clips from the final iteration: https://youtu.be/_C9at8Deamk

Xuanshuo Zhang Intervene Project: Escape the Room

Instructions: Label pieces of a “key”, Hide them in a room, Ask the players to find the key, Ask the players to piece the key together

I came up with this idea when I was playing some escape room games on my phone. I am a huge escape room fan, and I’ve experienced a variety of them. I think the fun of participating in an escape room comes in form of solving creative puzzles, interacting with interesting mechanisms, and sometimes enjoy partially immersing in a story. However, recently, there is a trend of escape room games that focus a lot more on quantity than quality. By that I mean rooms are designed to be small and puzzles are designed to be extremely easy to solve, and basically the only part that requires the players to think is to find specific objects to place, and the placements and use of the objects are extremely obvious. Those games are designed to insert ads between each room to gain profit. I think those games completely defeat the parts that are fun of escape rooms. I came up with this idea to create a game that is an exaggeration of such type of design. It intervenes how regular escape rooms are being played because it takes a lot more people to play this version of the game, and the focus of the game shifts from solving puzzle to just finding the pieces of the puzzle. I decided to include more players because I liked the ideas in the institute to give the players a different experience to this “escape room”, and more people contributing to the chaos of the gameplay partially benefits me because the inherent chaos makes the game more difficult and fun. In the end, both runs of the game went really well, each with its own surprises. The first time having an NPC and having the pieces at unexpecting places really amplified the surprise element, and the second time with expectations of where I could hide things the players still had trouble finding all the pieces in a short time, albeit the first few pieces were discovered much faster. Overall I think the intervention was pretty successful, the game was played how I intended for it to be played and the players had fun.

Artwork #3: Intervene (Public Artwork)

Project Description and Setup:

For my intervention, I left a prompt on a canvas in a public space, which allowed for people to interrupt their daily routine to draw whatever they would like.

  1. Find a public space to display a whiteboard or surface to draw on
  2. Write a prompt which invites people to draw or create whatever they please
  3. Return to the board in 24hrs to see what has been created

At first, my idea was to sit on the centennial common with a whiteboard and ask people to come and draw whatever they’d like to. This idea posed a few problems though. Firstly, I had discovered that allowing people to draw without others observing produced much more creative and interesting results than if there had been others around. Secondly, I do not own a whiteboard large enough to get peoples attention without asking them if they would like to participate. Since this is an intervention piece, I did not want to have as much of a role in the users’ experience as I would have had if I were to camp out on centennial. Therefore I modified my original idea so that I could use a larger canvas in a less public and crowded space. Thus, I chose to setup my intervention in a study room in my dorm building (West Village F). This allowed for participants to take a break from studying to draw whatever was on their mind. The results from this were unique to say the least.

Canvas before:

Canvas 24 hours later:

Upon first observing the changes, I noticed that there were not nearly as many drawings as i’d hoped there would be. All though this was saddening, I was still able to appreciate kirby, a volleyball, bubble tea, and a very awful drawing of spongebob dubbed “spong”.

The results were pretty indicative of the current mental state of those residing in my building. Although stressed by workload around midterms and nearing finals, students were still able to have fun in expressing themselves and displaying their work to others.

Tom Tang Intervention Project

This project is inspired by the Yes-men. As they put on a satire designed to mock the current social issues, I was inspired to do this project to expose and criticize the downfall of social media: where there appears to be more meaningless videos and less creative content.  After seeing Yoko Uno’s PAINTING TO ENLARGE AND SEE and PAINTING TO BE CONSTRUCTED IN YOUR HEAD, I decided to use the Instagram creative mode and put on a minute-long clip of blank grey canvas on my Instagram story. The original intention of this project was to make people realize the time they spend on meaningless social media content is wasted. 

After I posted five 15-second blanks, 130 people clicked on the story and 108 people watched all the way till the last clip. To my surprise, when I asked some of my friends their reaction to my social media post, none of them thought they wasted time. “It feels nice to take a break from scrolling,” one of my friends says. This emergent behavior made me realize that similar to Yoko Uno’s piece, the blank grey clips are like empty canvas: people are granted the freedom to have different perspectives on the piece.

Nickerson Isidor’s Intervention

For my Intervention, I enacted something I liked to call, operation Good Neighbor. What I did was essentially play some good ole’ rainbow 6 siege, and try to help the opposite team, or at the very least be kind towards them. A couple clips of the experience can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2biIKU0gmU&ab_channel=YvesIsidor

A brief presentation can also be seen here: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/15rT6kmo3cIzwvoTqj_q2Ce93XbyJguKOhNYpkVLTffE/edit?usp=sharing

While it wasn’t my first idea, the idea for this essentially branched from a lot of the other ideas of people in class. The idea of essentially becoming friendly and going against the true way the game was meant to played seemed like a fun idea to execute. I even got some of the players I encountered saying I brightened their day, and in the end, that’s the true point of being a good neighbor, so it made me happy that this was a success.

 

 

Intervention: The VR Chat Interviews

VRChat 2021.11.12 – 18.37.10.01

As seen in this video, I walked around VRChat and attempted to interview. My goal was to get people to think about who they were in-game, either as their avatar or the way they acted, and to play an absurd situation completely straight.

I framed my interviews as though I were an alien trying to learn more about life on Earth. In turn, I asked people what they liked or didn’t like about Earth, why they continued to live on Earth, and other things of that nature. The alien was intended to act as a visual shorthand for an outsider with no experience in VRChat’s customs which a number of people picked up and and treated me as such. Regularly, I was met with a negative viewpoint. Most people said that there was no good part about living on Earth and everything was terrible. I think this negativity reflects on the reason why people were playing VRChat; it’s a means of escapism where you can interact genuinely with people while using the anonymity and distance provided by the internet to keep from getting too close. Not included in my videos was a great deal of racism leveled primarily against black people. While unfortunately not uncommon in these spaces, the degree to which I saw this was far greater in VRChat as players were able to fill my screen with images of klansmen and also yell the n-word loudly. I did not interact with these people. A few select people (namely the purple skeleton in the video) were very receptive to my bit, often times playing along with my alien persona after having answered a few of my questions by asking me questions in return about life in space. Most people were frankly not that interested in being asked questions and spent most of their time talking with the others around them.

A big inspiration for my interviews was the Eric Andre Show but not in a normal way. The Eric Andre Show is primarily a prank show where Eric Andre puts on fake interviews for his guests where he does his best to make them uncomfortable and have them react to his bizarre mannerisms. My goal was to do the complete opposite by acting very politely and calmly in response to an incredibly strange environment. I think this works on the same level that comedian activists such as the Yes Men do. Things like the business suit that allows managers to see through cameras attached to their employee’s bodies or the all-in-one home suit used in the event of the flooding of the Earth force us to realize the ridiculousness of their context. Similarly, I wanted to have the people I interviewed have a similar moment of realization where they engage with the reasons why they play VRChat and how it differs from the greater world. I was additionally inspired by my previous interactions with VRChat. While I’d previously played VRChat playing different characters, most notably a shopping cart on a spiritual pilgrimage, I wanted to try engaging with other players in as normal a way as I could rather than adding to the visual and literal noise of people acting out. I was also inspired by Youtube channels such as All Gas No Breaks with impromptu interviews with random people at events to learn about why they were there.