The game Shame forces you to step into the shoes of someone who has had their image weaponized against them. Non-consensual pornography is rampant throughout our digital world, and hopefully this game will make you stop and consider the ramifications of sharing an image or video of someone else. The game is not only intended as an experience, but also contains helpful information for those who have been victimized by non-consensual pornography.
The story I created follows a non-binary first-year student as they are forced to learn how to navigate Davidson College as the gendered institution it is. Our readings in this course which lie at the intersection of gender and violence have weighed heavily on my mind this semester; I continually return to the words of queer gamemaker Kaitlin Tremblay, who so concisely explained my purpose in developing dichotomous (password: cyborgs): “‘[Horror] is the only place where I can feel true and unabashed fear and not be told I’m being oversensitive. Horror is a rare place where fear is taken seriously’” (Velocci 42). I open my game with a content warning about “gendered violence”; to be clear, “violence” is not purely physical, and the way in which I discuss violence here includes the institutional, verbal, generational, emotional, etc. violence which queer and non-binary bodies are subjected to at Davidson in addition to physical violence.
If the story contains scenes which do not seem quite glamorously surprising or violent “enough,” then something very important has been revealed: I’d ask the player to consider why and how any of those situations should be relegated in (y)our mind as a mediocre or normal occurrence. How are you participating in or corroborating gendered violence on our campus?
There are many pathways and game endings, so if you are interested in finding all of the combinations, you will need to play through a few different times.
You decide it’s finally time to download a new assistant software your tech-savvy friend has been begging you to get. What you don’t realize is that the bugs reported by the reviewers of the software are a little more prominent than they made them out to be.
Alien Adventure should come across initially as the game equivalent of a popcorn movie. Just harmless entertainment, but at the final moment, the game is transformed into something more insidious. I created the game to essentially be a microcosm of the way that we interact with digital spaces that track our decisions and use that data to create a profile on the user. The game not only shines a light on the troubling reality of the existence of proxy data but also its implications on identity and gender.
Time For A Change is a science-fiction game addressing a lot of the issues women face while working in the technological field. The player faces the same struggles and experiences the same feelings as women do when working for tech companies; all that to touch on the broader theme of change and how it could be achieved.
Over the course of the semester, the main theme that crops up in my mind throughout the readings and the discussions is the constant human presence online. Perhaps that goes without saying, but looking at my old blog posts, I notice that there is a general focus on the way that people interact, both online between themselves, or with the technology itself. I think I find that people online tend to be products of their environment. This is not to say that people should not be accountable for their actions online, but that technology provides disruptive spaces and potential for harm, whether we be conscious of it or not.
I think this view is one very different from the one that I began the course with. Before this course, I thought that users imposed their will on online spaces, that the spaces were shaped by users; which is true to a certain point, but the online space also exercises a certain amount of influence on the users themselves. This rang especially true after we read Technically Wrong, where I became more aware of the discussion that technology companies have, in regards to the users they want to attract.
Overall, I don’t think I’ve really changed my view about the internet. I still regard it with a bit of hesitancy, as in my experience, it has always been a place of anonymity and power. But after this class, I think I know regard it with a bit more hope for what it can be. The discussions and sources that we encountered in class remind me that there are people thinking about problems and ideas that are problematic, and seeking ways to change them. I’ve generally had a poor view of video game companies, but after my cultural artifact presentation on Riot Games, I remembered that these companies were full of thinking and feeling humans, who try to change things for what they see as better.
Perhaps this class was meant to make us think about the digital world, but in the end, I can’t help but also consider the human experience online. The internet does not have meaning or content until we give it such things. In the end all it is is just a pretty neat algorithm, but one that has such potential. Likewise, the technology companies, of which I tend to hold such a poor view, are merely groups of humans who have ideas. So all in all, this class has made me realize how human the digital world is, rather than pure algorithms.
The premise of the game is that you’re going to do a week’s worth of work from home in 7 minutes. If you work harder, the more money you gain – but you get more tired. Sleep and nap to alleviate that tiring, but lose out on precious time to work! Every once in a while you may receive a compliment or a criticism. Be wary — this game exists in a black box, you might not be given all the rules from the getgo.
In Life of a Common Cyborg, you are a cyborg living out your day-to-day with a synthetic leg. You can update your prosthetic or go straight to work, interact with coworkers and friends, and try out different mobility equipment. The game describes the daily struggles of life as an amputee in an ableist world. Life of a Common Cyborg addresses the lack of disability representation in Donna Harraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto” using the work of Jillian Weise and her “Common Cyborg” essay as its basis.
With the opportunity to create a game about our experiences in quarantine, I had to recognize that this was uncharted territory and that I would be commenting on something that all of us are going to. A lot of different reactions to quarantine are being criticized, but a large response to that fact is the line “everyone responds to things differently.” As we have gone deeper and deeper into isolation it has become clear to me that a lot of how people are representing their reaction on social media does a lot of harm. When on social media, I found that over half of the posts were memes or jokes about quarantine. I wanted to provide an argument about a specific meme that I found to be incredibly insensitive especially at a time when people are adjusting to a new mental state. Memes about gaining weight or the “quarantine-15” have been populating my feed even before Davidson shut down. A fact not specific to quarantine is that jokes about gaining weight are always presenting this as negative. The jokes continue the trends of weight stigma, discrimination, and stereotypes against people of heavier body types.In the game, you are scrolling through your feed and interacting with these kinds of posts. The way you interact, defines the game play.
“Gig Night” is a second-person retelling of several incidents I have personally encountered while performing electronic music as a woman in various underground nightlife spaces in both LA and Chicago. My intention is to portray the complexities of gendered interactions where alcohol is involved as well as the frustrating expectations of female self-expression and fetishization in music tech spheres. To do so, I’ve created a series of choices that will take the player through scenarios of inevitable discomfort and fear, as well as the resulting intrinsic joy from sharing one’s individual craft. I hope to solicit nuanced feelings as I complicate narratives surrounding the marginalization of women and rape culture while providing the unfiltered happiness that many of us decide is worth the uncomfortable social navigations otherwise.