Infinite Loop offers a chance for people to understand slacktivism. From the Oxford English Dictionary, slacktivism is defined as actions performed via the internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement, e.g. signing an online petition or joining a campaign group on a social media website.
To truly understand the subject of this game players must read all parts including the very first page. The definition of slacktivism is provided so that the player is introduced to the concept of slacktivism. How to maneuver within the game is also explicitly stated as to avoid confusion (a cursor is the icon you are controlling). Once the player decides to start the game by pressing the space bar, a message box pops up with the instructions: Raise awareness for important issues you care about by collecting Likes. End the game by moving the cursor to the x-button found in the top-right corner of the screen.
We have designed the game so that the player is encouraged to collect Likes in support of issues that are flashing in the center. These images range from gay marriage to medical research. There is no time limit mentioned in the directions but the player must finish the game within ~2 minutes. This is to symbolize that Likes does not correlate current awareness; awareness is closely aligned with time. There is a cash register sound associated with every time you collect a Like symbolizing that these Likes need to be cashed in, and soon. Likes can represent the growing interest in subjects but only initially is awareness is high; as more time goes on people lose interest or forget about these issues they so enthusiastically Liked just a little while ago.
Likes gravitate to the center of the spiral. The arrow keys are used to navigate the cursor through the maze and collect Likes. The player must make the conscious effort of ending the game before awareness runs out; reminder, the time limit is not told so they must realize Likes are great because you see the number go up but the real goal is to make it out of the maze. If the Awareness Meter hits empty the “Too Slow” page comes up and you must try again to complete the game before awareness decreases. If you end the game when awareness is still high (the real goal of the game, not simply collecting Likes), you are asked to explore options of what to do with high awareness. The choices given given are Get Informed, Volunteer, and Donate.
The only other option is to Do Nothing, which in all honestly is all you’ve actually completed with your time, at which point you are taken to a screen which gives you the opportunity to explore the other options or end the game. This is to reinforce the message that Liking an issue is only the first step; while you are still interested in a cause you should try to contribute in a manner that is actually beneficial and not for show. We wanted to strongly reinforce the idea that while slacktivism is not bad, in fact its awesome people want other people to know the issues they support, people need to realize that they a Like, status change, profile picture change, and etc, does not help, organizations need fiscal and physical support, but it is also just as critically important to really understand and be informed about the issues and the organizations they choose to represent and work with.
There are still a number of game mechanics that, while not absolutely necessary for the concept to succeed as a test-phase pro type, do have the potential to greatly enhance gameplay and focus the message. These include but are not limited to: Bigger cursor that is not controlled by the arrow keys, but rather through a system of resistance somewhat like the game “helicopter,” where the cursor is constantly being drawn backwards. Pictures in the middle change as the player collects likes, not a random flashing of images as it is now. We would have also liked for the suggested links at the end of the different options to have been hyperlinked and actually lead them to the websites. While the process is constantly evolving, the limitations of GameMaker and our technical knowledge have prevented us from implementing these mechanics, and we hope to see them incorporated in the near future.
—————————— >> You can download the game here.