Radical Game Design: Make or Break the Box

A snapshot of the current level in my Unity Build.
A snapshot of the current level in my Unity Build.

My conference project focuses on the player’s decision to either fit in someone else’s box, or to make their own metaphorical box. To fit in, they must commit to other’s ideals even if it’s to an unhealthy extent. To create themselves, they must pick and choose (or choose not to choose) what they agree to commit to. I got the idea from the eccentric culture on campus – students often push themselves so hard to accommodate others that they forget to accommodate themselves. For example, many students will tear themselves apart whenever they make a mistake like forgetting correct pronouns. They forget that mistakes are okay and allow people to learn and grow as people. This game is a physical representation of that pressure to fit in and over-commit yourself to make others happy.

The game itself says a lot with simple drawings. The image below depicts the entrance to a dorm building with stairs leading to the blue player’s dorm as well as posters on the wall.

Radical 002
The entrance to the Blue Player’s dorm room.

The posters represent the various clubs, events, and petitions that overwhelm the walls by the sheer amount. The color itself are bright and cheery in order to keep the energy of the game light and humorous. The actual content of the game will have silly conversations that highlight the ridiculousness seen on the campus. For example, instead of students feeling guilty and helpless for being born into a privileged group (“Oppress the oppressors” is a saying found on campus) They can be empowered to take action in situations to change reality for the better.

One situation that is playful is when the player encounters a Pink NPC next to the stairs leading to a pink door (their dorm). The Pink NPC barrages the Player with “Stairs don’t care! Say no to stairs and build a ramp instead. Sign my petition and make a difference!” The player can choose to complete the quest to build a ramp, or can choose to simply tackle a different quest.

The Pink NPC standing next to the stairs leading to their dorm room.
The Pink NPC standing next to the stairs leading to their dorm room.

As for the color scheme, the game utilizes the concept of “wayfinding” to persuade the player to click on certain objects in the game. For example, the blue door is the blue player’s dorm room!

Another thing to note is that this game has been revised a few times. From the sizes of the art assets to coding hiccups, it has lots of room for improvement. Even now, the story needs a more clear overarching goal with tangible smaller interactions that the player can see helps or hinders their journey through the game. Overall, the game is progressing slowly but surely.

The old Paper Prototype version of the current level in the Unity Building.
The old Paper Prototype version of the current level in the Unity Building.

For the future, I’d like to add a splash screen to better convey the goal of the game. So far, the image below depicts the paper prototype version of an idea for the splash screen.

Radical 005We’ll see how far this game will go!