New Project: It is as if you were playing a videogame

Game design process

(Photo by Squinky.)

I tried to relax for a couple of days after polishing off Let’s Play: Ancient Greek Punishment: Limited Edition (coming next Tuesday!) but I felt weird and out of sorts. It’s probably a little bit depressing, but at present I find it stressful to just detune and not work on a game/thing. I’ve started reading Gertrude Stein’s “The Making of Americans” (so far so, so hard to read) and I thought I’d just spend a day doing that. But no. Just listless wandering around the house, checking Twitter too much, answering emails, etc.

So I decided to just plow on ahead and have been giving some thought to the next project on my list, which is called It is as if you were playing a videogame. (The photo above, by Squinky, would make a great “genesis image”, but sadly I’d already thought of the game name by then and had written it in a text document to see what it could look like on a mobile device. Still, I like the idea that my “design process” might just be “looking like I’m asleep”.)

The genesis of this particular game idea came on the metro looking at all the people with their phones and tablets, deeply engrossed, moving their fingers around on the screens mystically. Being perverse, I liked the idea that somehow they were all actually doing nothing at all, but rather following banal instructions to “interact” with their device in such a way as to look like they were playing a game (or whatever else they might appear to be doing).

So that’s the plan with It is as if you were playing a videogame – it is to be a game that enables you to pretend (to others, perhaps even to yourself?) that you are playing a videogame. In some ways I also think of this as some sort of bizarre futuristic anxiety-support tool, allowing you to exist in a social space and appear to be busy at a socially sanctioned activity while in fact not really doing anything. (Why wouldn’t you just actually play a game? I don’t quite know, perhaps it would just be too stressful? Perhaps you don’t want to have real [game] emotions in public?)

This is all ties in with a longer-standing interest in making an abstract game that doesn’t rely on any narrative or world building properties for its graphics/text/aesthetics, but only has basic shapes and movements (e.g. “drag the circle to position (x,y)”). In fact the whole thing is more an exercise in interface design than game design because I want to explicitly avoid (as much as is possible in this weird situation) having it feel “like a game” in a more traditional sense. The affect of play/success/failure/tension etc. should all be as fake as possible, I think.

Anyway, that’s where my thinking is for the moment. No doubt it will evolve/devolve as I move along with it. Be seeing you.