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The Designer’s Dilemma: Bringing It All Back Home

This semester, I wrote, designed and built a number of dialogue-driven games in my Inclusive Games Design class, headed by Amit Pitaru, here at ITP. I’ve mostly been proud of the results, but I must admit that most of them didn’t really meet the needs of our target audience– namely handicapped children. While one of my games has managed to reach the children, and was on display as part of our class’ presentation at the ITP Winter Show, some of the games I’m proudest of have remained largely class-only affairs. I’m changing that right now. While I continue to work on other, longer works over the break, I’ll post my games here, so that they reach an audience of some kind.

Is it safe?


First up is one of the first games I made using my dialogue-design, and while it’s a little less polished than my later efforts, I’ve got a soft spot for it. It was developed after I watched Videodrome one evening, and wondered how you could create a truly paranoid, dystopian experience for children. In the end, I came up with a somewhat auto-biographical game, drawn from my memories of the first grade. I can’t imagine why nobody thought it was appropriate…

http://www.divshare.com/download/3167197-587

Second, is the game I hoped to present in the Winter Show at ITP, but was also turned down by the school’s teachers, and therefore not included. As per their request to create a game which could teach children the importance of brushing their teeth, but as before, they weren’t quite comfortable with the title I came up with. Turns out that children aren’t terribly fond of going to the dentist, so they wouldn’t be crazy about playing a game featuring one. One person called this “Gestapo-design.” For some reason, as a designer, that feels like a strange kind of compliment.

http://www.divshare.com/download/3167235-ac9

Any feedback will be most valuable. Until next time, pleasant dreamers, pencils down and make sure to remember our freedom-fighter brothers and sisters in Iran and Nicaragua…

2 Comments

  1. Charles Joseph wrote:

    I have to say that I’m not sure what you’re trying to accomplish with these, Bob. If you want to create a fascist situation where the player’s choices don’t really matter, where they’re just trying to navigate the logic of a tyrant, then these vignette’s are really effective.

    However, if you’re trying to create a template for dialogue-driven games, I don’t know that this is the way to go. While playing I was often distinctly reminded of those moments in RPGs where someone asks you something like “would you like to save the princess?”, and no matter how many times you say “no”, they keep asking until you give them the answer that the designer wants you to give.

    What I think these little games point to is that there is no mechanical template to dialogue in games. Instead we have to look at what kind of feeling we want a conversation to evoke and then create mechanics that facilitate that.

    PS. The dentist is a dead-ringer for the weapons salesman in RE4.

    Thursday, December 20, 2007 at 3:29 pm | Permalink
  2. Nash wrote:

    Hey Bob, did you check out Against All Odds? I think it’s doing something similar to what you are trying to say. http://playthisthing.com/against-all-odds

    Check it out. I’m especially interested to see what you have to say about that first chapter.

    Thursday, December 20, 2007 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

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