Consequences Update.

So far the progress on our project has been good. Outside of class each member is attempting to work on their own specific minigame inside of Gamemaker. Right now we are still in the process of creating backgrounds/finding sprites. For certain specific minigames right now we are attempting to figure out how to make the mechanics work inside Gamemaker(such as causing a block to mimic  the movement of water in the dam minigame and also how to integrate progress bars in the games in order to give feedback to the operator). Workshop time in class has been spent mostly on thinking through the entire narrative structure of the game and also the writing of the dialogue. The dialogue in the game so far is up to the point of the transition to the first minigame. One major change that we decided to do and that we talked about in class  was the removal of the main hub idea from our game and to just progress the game/storyline primarily through Twine images/dialogue because the creation of a main hub with changing elements would be a task too monumental with the limited time/experience we have with Gamemaker. Next week though we will be working less on dialogue in class and will be working primarily on the minigames. Our dialogue is being written on google docs right now so we will be able to all edit/write it in real time outside of the workshop hours that we have inside class. Soon we will start putting the dialogue into Twine and using Twine’s features to integrate pictures into the dialogue which should be exciting. Twine’s ability to have clickable options in the dialogue that will link to other things will be useful for our project due to the way in which we can show images/informational slides as an extension of what we are having the actual characters discuss in game. Since we have spent much of the time so far in workshop hours talking and thinking about the peripheral elements of our game we will start to spend the majority of our time in class and outside of class working on the core minigames.

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Group 7- Consequences

Group 7 presented a game which addressed the issue of environmental justice. The game begins with the player in a main hub area somewhat similar to the main hub in the game Small Worlds. This hub offers the player links to certain mini game type areas which allow the player to experience certain environmental conflicts and issues first hand. Group 7 presented one of these mini games in class which sets the player in the role of an environmentalist in a refugee village in Southeast Asia. The village comes under attack by bengal tigers, who are an endangered species.  The player must decide to shoot or not shoot the tigers. The player is given a classic sophie’s choice scenario, if he or she chooses not to shoot the tigers the refugees safety will be at stake. However if the player chooses to shoot too many tigers, he or she will greatly diminish the numbers of an endangered species. If the player shoots too many tigers, this will be indicated in the main hub area of the game by an X over an image of the tigers to demonstrate that the player has reduced the bengal tiger population. In addition, if the player plays the mini game again, there will be far fewer tigers present if the player shot a significant number of the tigers. On the other hand if the player chooses not to shoot the tigers, the refugees will suffer due to the attacking tigers. Just like the with the tigers before, an image will be displayed in the main hub area indicating that the player has made a decision which has adversely affected the refugees.  Within the mini games there will be interstitial dialogue between the player’s character and other characters in each respective mini games.  The other mini games which they are considering adding address the  environmental issues surrounding dams and coal mining.  This game will be created using the Game Maker software. As the title suggests group 7 wanted to put the player in a position to truly experience the difficulties in making choices with such drastic consequences.

Group 6 – Equality Street

Group 6 proposes a modified version of the classic game Frogger to serve as a commentary on colorblindness. The game addresses the problematic belief that color and race can just be “ignored” and everyone treated equally, by pointing out that there are inequalities in the way different races and genders are treated and that these need to be addressed to fix the issue. The game, which will be created in GameMaker, has the player control four different characters on their journey home to their apartment. The path the characters must traverse is divided up into several lanes for the characters to cross, each with a different obstacle. One lane will have cars going back and forth, another will feature police, and one will be a busy sidewalk with people. The four different characters featured are a white male, a black male, a white female, and a black female, and the obstacles the player encounters behave differently depending on which character is being used, to represent the inequalities that person might experience in real life. For example, group 6 stated that when women characters were crossing the sidewalk they would encounter men cat-calling and harassing them, and the black male might find the police travel towards him more quickly and with greater frequency. Additionally, characters representing minorities would have a longer way to travel back to the apartment, having to navigate more obstacles and social injustices on their way home.

We are seeking to show how privilege and intersectionality work through our gameplay. We are critiquing colorblindness ideology by showing that race and gender privileges interact to create different webs of privilege and/or oppression. As such, the white male character has the easiest gameplay with the shortest path and the need to only dodge a few vehicles, showing the advantages that white male privilege provides. On the other hand, the non-white female faces the most difficult gameplay, with the longest overall path and the need to dodge all obstacle types showing how both racial and gender oppression combines. For gameplay, the non-white male and the white female have the same difficulty level, though the visual representation of the obstacles show different types of oppression (the non-white male must avoid police cars, representing racial stereotypes of non-whites as criminals while the white female faces men in the street who will sexually harass her, representing how women are much more likely to be sexually harassed and assaulted). We recognize that the experience of non-white males and white females are not equally difficult. For the base game, we are keeping things simple with only the four characters, which, while it does not address the true complexity of how race, gender, class, and sexuality can interact, simplifies the issues so that the basics of intersectionality are laid out. For people who are familiar with intersectionality, the game will be oversimplified, but for individuals who have not been educated in how privilege works, the simple format clearly explains through gameplay how race and gender can interact to create privilege or oppression.

A few aspects of the game were still under consideration. Group 6 chose the four characters for simplicity of the game, but a different set of characters may be playable in the final version. Additionally, the ways different obstacles would interact with players was still undecided, but it was suggested that the men be attracted to women characters as if by a magnetic effect. With such a simple yet compelling basic principle, it will be interesting to see how this game develops.

Group 4: “Phil the Quota”

This game concept is a protest against pyramid schemes. Group 4 will be incorporating a visual novel style with hand drawn illustrations and be executed as a simulation using the platform Ren’Py. A pyramid scheme relies on desperation and an unmarketable product. Corporations benefiting from a pyramid scheme manipulate its employees into convincing others to come work under them increasing their commission as well as a chain of hierarchy and driving unsuspecting individuals into debt by forcing them to sell worthless products. The concept proposed starts with a struggling male protagonist scammed into joining a pyramid scheme. For game play, the player will be able to make choices to either be ruthless to sell more products while persuading customers to become representatives themselves climbing the “pyramid of success” or be a good person and struggle to find a way out of the mess you have gotten yourself into. I’m curious to see how well they will be able to correlate “health points,” or “heart points,” I think they called it, to the choices the player is allowed to make as well as the bars of success. Since it is a simulation, the narrative will play a key role in relaying the social justice issue so the choice of words will be especially important. Also will all modes of success or failure yield similar text or will there be an option to review the different outcomes the other choices might yield or will the player have to re-navigate through the lengthy plot in order to experience all the possibilities? Will extremes only be portrayed: the successful scheming businessman or a loser who got sucked up into a pyramid scheme, or is there a right time to get out? There are many paths Group 4 can choose to take. Simulation is a powerful tool to use, if done thoughtfully, to reveal underlying flaws by having a chance to experience the weight of different factors leading to certain results.

Group 5 – Maze of Domestic Abuse (Game untitled??)

This game deals with the issue of domestic abuse and its consequences. The premise of the game is to navigate a maze as part of a two-player team whose avatars are linked together over a certain amount of distance. Designed to be a two player game on separate computers, the only method of communication between player A and player B is chirping. As both players work together to navigate the maze, it is predicted that there may be disagreements over where to go. Player A has the option to press an ‘Abuse’ button which will cause the avatar of player B to momentarily flash and then render itself paralyzed, thus enabling player A to drag player B’s avatar along through the maze. Throughout the maze there will be Police headquarters (or something representing the law), and player B has the oppurtunity to report being abused. This option may not always take effect, as is the case in real life where not all cases of rape are taken seriously or handled professionally. Group 5 would like to design the game such that player B will have a much wider/clearer view of the maze than player A, so that player A may be making decisions to drag player B along without knowing the entire picture. This deals with the issue of abuse within real relationships because as both players get to the end of the maze, player B may not choose to report player A because the ultimate objective is to finish the maze. The consequences of reporting player A for abuse (and it going through) is being separated from player A and being placed into a new partnership with another player. Group 5 intends this to be a game played on separate computers, but for their demo will only be using one computer that will allow both players to engage with the game at the same time.

Group Two: Love Like a Cholo

Group 2’s Love Like a Cholo is a dating simulation game that is rich with social insight into racial and sexual stereotypes, both of which are deeply intertwined. The protagonist is a male Latino high school student that is still in the closet. The goal of the game if to gain the most affection from another character according to the romance meter, leading to sex and marriage. There are ultimately two paths for our protagonists, a homosexual relationship with an African American gang-banger or a more culturally acceptable heterosexual relationship with Latino girl. These two paths with cumulatively comment on the state of Black-Latino relationships and their ideologies regarding sexual orientation. This will be accomplished through the text-based gameplay of the platform, Twine. The choices are entirely up to the player and it is possible to go through the game without even building a relationship, so even if one chooses a path it is still possible to fail. In the demo they showed a choice of whether out character should wear a sequin shirt or a hiking backpack, clearly denoting the paths of homosexuality or heterosexuality. These paths are not equal however, and dialogue-based feedback will demonstrate that conforming to social norms regardless of personal reference will obviously be easier for our protagonist while pursuing his true feelings will play out more difficult. For example if the player pursues the male character he would start being bullied at school or his parents would be outraged. So the choice is up to the player, to achieve true happiness or to appease their cultural expectations. 

(Please let me know if I made any mistakes and I’ll make an edit)

Group 8 – Outsource Frenzy

Group 8’s Outsource Frenzy is focused on business tactics within the arena of global capitalism and the ways in which unethical choices are made in order to raise profit. The game style will be similar to that of the anti-war game in which the end result is always failure. The operator will play as an entrepreneur or factory owner and will have the element of choice as to what type of business decisions they want to make. Along the way, the operator might make unethical decisions in order to keep their profit rising. For instance, the operator could raise wages for their employees (resulting in their business going bankrupt) or they could cut wages (profit would be high however, the workers will revolt). Ethical decisions within the game space will result in a lower profit, and because profit is the most emphasized goal within the game, the operator may be motivated to make unethical decisions if they want to have a fruitful business. The group’s main inspiration comes from the documentary Zoned for Slavery. The platform for their game will be a mod off of the game Plague Inc in which the operator creates an infection spread. For the purposes of their game however, infection spreading will be replaced by factory spreading. Statistics will be incorporated in the game so that the operator can be up-to-date on their profit. The game makers are presenting a critique of global capitalism through their work. Overall, the game will work to create a detached experience from the workers, in order to reflect the effects of global capitalism and the way in which business owners can be either ignorant of or unsympathetic to, the state of their employees. Once the game has ended, there will be a feedback system in the form of an article or news story featuring the unethical decisions that the operator made during game play. The article will consist of pictures and stories of individuals who were harmed by the operator’s business practices.