One Minute of Your Time


I’ve been making some games based on different durations, and one of them is a minute long. That was the starting constraint: make a game that is a minute long. It’s quite a pleasant sort of constraint, and it’s interesting to think about what you could do. I also kind of wanted the overall collection (ten games) to touch on different genres and ideas of interaction.

So anyway, I was trying to come up with a minute-long thing and the phrase “just a minute of your time” came into my head. I don’t know if you associate that with anything (the internet seems more silent on it than I’d thought, other than Tom Jones) – I associate it with maybe a person with a hard luck story who stops you on the street. So I started making a game about that, where you’re standing there and this person is telling you all these awful things that have happened to them, and you can kind of respond in different ways (I had “sympathy”, “contempt”, “upbeat” and “downbeat”).

But things went awry with this, for probably obvious reasons in retrospect. Basically there’s a deeply horrible power distance created between the player and the hard-luck character. They kind of need help, but you can’t help them, only comment on their story. Helping them would potentially end the game earlier than a minute, so there was this sort of enforced “no help for you” thing that game had. So you’re playing it (I did make the game) and you just feel like a massive dick. It has some pretty decent “mean comedy” moments when you’re going through it, because sometimes your response (randomly selected from a set) fits their story (randomly selected from a set) weirdly well. But it’s mean.

And it just felt… too mean. I didn’t want to make a mean game, or at least not a mean game that’s just kind of tangentially mean, rather than about being mean. So I actually had to not make it. I had to back away from the whole idea and rethink “one minute”.

So, after briefly reskinning the hard luck story as a religious nutcase (didn’t work), I made it be a game of speed dating instead. Much better.

5 November 2013
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