Our group’s game “Equality Street” borrows gameplay mechanics from the classic game “Frogger,” but reinvents the game using the program Game Maker in a way which is meant to address the social justice issue of colorblindness. The game begins with four friends on their way home to their apartment after a night out on the town. The group consists of a caucasian male, black male, caucasian female, and black female. The game starts with a text explaining the premise of the game, that the player must get all four characters home safely one by one. Next, a character select screen opens which allows the player to choose which character he or she would like to play first. Afterwards the room will change to a side-scrolling street layout with vertical streets and cars driving up and down them. The player can move up, down, left, and right in order to pass by the cars and other obstacles and reach his or her apartment. The caucasian male will be the least difficult character to get across the street and will have the fewest and easiest obstacles. The african american male will have to cross a longer street and deal with faster cars and police cars which will speed up and try to hit the black male and arrest him. The caucasian female will have a different set of obstacles specifically sexual harassers who must be avoided in order to cross the street. The african american female will have the most obstacles of all the characters and will have to avoid both the police cars and the sexual harassers. After each character makes it home safely the player will return to the select screen to choose the next character he or she wishes to take across the street. The game cannot be completed until all four characters have made it home safely, however the game can be completed in any order of characters.
We have seen the theory of color-blindness in multiple media outlets. Our group was inspired by the satirical YouTube music video “Equality Street,” produced by fictional character David Brent (Ricky Gervais). In the video, Brent sings of the equality of all people, regardless of gender, race or creed. He points to his “black friend,” and makes suggestive faces. This video comically demonstrates a major view largely in America, and perhaps around the world: All people are equal and should all be treated the same, and if one simply ignores the fact that people have differences, everything can be peaceful and racism, sexism, etc. can be eradicated. This simplistic view is problematic because the systems in our society have created divisions based on privilege. All people are not created equal under these systems and people must understand this in order to approach any kind of solution towards more equality. Another inspiration was not a satire but an actually attempt to reconcile racial tensions in the South. The song “Accidental Racist” by Brad Paisley featuring LL Cool J is a perfect example of white privilege and misunderstandings of the picture at large.
In our game we hope to illustrate how different systems and institutions purposely oppress certain groups in favor of more powerful, privileged ones. No one person can combat this by saying, “I don’t see in color [I don’t see race, gender, etc.]” The institutions will continue to make the rules.
Obviously, with so short an amount of time, our game is flawed in some pretty blatant ways. We are aware of the fact that stripping down our concept into a black and white issue is, in some ways, contrary to what we are trying to achieve when addressing colorblindness and white privilege. We made the decision to stick with this plan for the demo, however, because it seemed most conducive to getting our point across in the simplest of manners.
If we had more time and more to work with, we feel this would no longer be as much as an issue. Our plan would be to make different levels with different avatars that have varying levels of privilege and create different obstacles for them to fight through. For instance, one of the biggest flaws of the demo that is currently in the works is that it does not address sexuality at all, which leaves a bit of a gaping hole when addressing intersectionality. We are still discussing the possibility of working it into the demo that will be shown at the end of the quarter; for instance, we could create a homosexual avatar who might experience similar types of street harassment as the female characters within the current demo (obviously with different connotations).
For another example involving race, we discussed having Latino/a avatars to show that Black and Latino people share very similar experiences and obstacles, especially males. It is certainly something that needs to be, and is, being discussed for our demo, but if that fails to show in the final product for this quarter, we still plan to have research in our bibliographies that reflects differing levels of privilege that will expand the issue from merely black and white. If anything, for the final presentation, there will be details involving possible future avatars and what their obstacles would be in order to show that we do understand the complexity of the issue of colorblindness, even if we cannot show it in our current demo for this quarter.