Sunday, March 19, 2017

Game Design - Resist Jam - If Not Now, When

Game Design - Resist Jam - If Not Now, When

It has taken me a week to collect some thoughts. I think that might be a hallmark of doing difficult and meaningful work. That you need to take time away from it, just a little bit, to decompress and actually think, and consider what you did.

Last week Sunday, the team of Chris Slater, Ian Pratt, Lindsay Comeau, Lawrence Cheung, Bryan Link and I completed our Resist Jam submission. Resist Jam was a week long game jam inspired by the recent events going on in America today. We were mandated to make a game about resisting authoritarianism in all its forms. We were tasked with making a game that showcases some ideas about diversity and inclusion.

Check out more information on Resist Jam Here.

We had been discussing and designing ideas for a week leading up to the actual game jam start. What we settled on was a game where the player is tasked with 'managing' a protest camp. We had been watching a lot of documentaries at that point, movies like Winter on Fire (about the Ukranian protests), The Square (about Tahrir Square in Egypt) and documentaries about Occupy Wallstreet.

I think personally for myself, I'm interested in the subject because for a long time, I couldn't begin to fathom the idea of armed resistance against your own government. We live an incredibly privileged life here in Canada, our freedoms are enshrined (generally), and we are lucky enough to live in an incredibly polite, respectable, generous society. The quarrels we have here are often more intellectual, because it is considerably rarer to be protesting the cost of bread and milk.

That was until Trump came into power. To see our southern ally and neighbour going through conflict over what seems like basic rights has been heartbreaking. The stories from the Muslim Ban, the rise of rightist populism, the retaliations against people who are advocating for human rights. In less than 2 months, I sometimes honestly wonder if we are watching the beginnings of America imploding.

So we made If Not Now, When?

The game is inspired by the quote of  John Lewis. I feel the game is about educating, and asking questions of its player to get them to think about the process of decision making. To give them an idea about intersectionalism, protest, and responsibility. The core idea of the game is to make decisions, to be forced into ideas about what might be right, or wrong. To manage a careful balancing act of enabling intention, without (hopefully) pushing so hard as to become alienating. I wonder if that's perhaps a metaphor for most artist's lives.

I don't know if we succeeded in that, but it was an incredible experience to work on the project. The team is taking a collective breath, before we considering what we're going to do next. But I think we'll revisit the idea and take some time to iron out the very many bugs.

Please check it out if you get the chance. The game is completely free to download.

If Not Now, When?