(Photo by Brady Dale)
This weekend at the NYU Game Center, six teams put together games about sex, relationships, identity and gender.
The event was organized by The Brooklyn Gamery, a company made up four local developers. One of the four, Catt Small, said, “Last year we had an idea to run a bunch of different jams about things people don’t often do in games.” Jams are events where teams with different skills work to develop a very simple game, usually over a weekend.
The Super Love Game Jam started Friday night and ran through presentations around 7 p.m. on Sunday, followed by open demo’ing and testing by visitors and participants.
Last year, the team organized the Big Bad Mamma Jamma, a jam about motherhood. Small said the idea for this one was to do a jam about sex, but then that evolved into a broader idea that included relationships, sexual identity and all the complexity that arises from relating to other people.
Technical.ly Brooklyn attended the final game presentation. Here are the games that were presented:
Androgyny had a very strong visual design. It was built by a team of five, a sound designer, a cello player, an artist and two coders.
The game is based on the story told in Plato’s Symposium, where it says that man was initially made with four arms and legs and two heads, but the gods split man in half. Now, humans spend their lives looking for their other half, because they are stronger together.
The game features some very distinct and fun graphics. A gameplay element also pushes the player’s comfort zone.
It works a little like Dance Dance Revolution in that its basic play mechanic is to hit buttons in time to cues on the screen. It’s a two player game, though, and the buttons you strike start on either side of the keyboard and move inward as the two players progress. They aren’t competing, they are trying to work together and, eventually, their hands will cross and probably touch on the keyboard.
Fuck or Don’t Fuck
This game was a big hit with the room. It’s a game about hooking up.
The idea was to make the notion of getting it on with someone or not getting it on with someone no big deal. The basic game play works like this: you pick one of a bunch of avatars. That avatar sits on a bench. Different other avatars pop up on that bench, and they all proposition you in bawdy and non-judgemental ways. After each proposition, you choose “fuck” or “don’t fuck.” The game just lasts a few minutes. Random events happen during the game. All amusing. At the end, no matter which choices you make, you have a good day.
It was another game with a really strong look. Built by a team of five, most of the developers didn’t really want their name associated with such a raw build, but the team wanted to make sure the artist, Drew Blomquist, got the credit for the game’s polished look.
One of the team members, Liz Blessing, said in her intro, “We wanted to make a game about self-presentation in hostile environments.” The game works as a metaphor for the ways in which people are treated with hostility for being different. In real life, it might be because you wear funky clothes or paint your fingernails or wear makeup or don’t wear makeup.
The game mechanic works on the idea of weariness caused by hostility. You need to get through a series of mundane tasks in a hostile environment before it wears you out. Rather than delve too deep into specific features that yield hostility, the team designed it instead as a triangle making its way through a world of circles.
One strategy the triangle has is to disguise itself as a circle. Then it is met with less hostility. But, “when you’re disguised, you get tired faster,” Alex Lew, another team member, explained.
Who Am I?
A team of three built this environmental game that is built around the shape of a human brain. It’s a mystery about identity. The player finds a series of objects which activate different sounds and dialogue. These sounds create clues through which the player can eventually assemble an idea of who the character he is playing is.
Similar to Passing, this is a game about stereotypes, where your “weapon,” (a blast of rainbow) is really talking. The game explores the idea that what people say and what people hear and what people mean don’t always square, particularly when two people see each other as very different.
Fabulosity was built by two developers and two musicians/sound designers. It had a great tag line, “I speak in rainbows.”
Another game about conversation, it emulates a party and makes conversation into a sort of maze, where the mazes get harder and harder. The worse the player navigates them, the more hostility they engender from their interlocutors. It had a six-person team, and grew out of a pitch from writer, Alejandra Garcia.
A few artifacts from the weekend jam exist on its GameJolt page.