Critical Play – Inhuman Conditions

Game: Inhuman Conditions

Creator: Tommy Maranges, Cory O’Brien

Platform: Card, web

Target audience: age 10+

 

Inhuman Conditions is a 2 people interrogation social game. Players are either the suspect or the investigator. The investigator’s goal is to determine, via a 5 min interview, if the suspect is a human or a robot. The suspect’s role is hidden and their goal is to convince the investigator that they are human. If the robot suspect convince the investigator they are human, the robot suspect wins. If the human convinces the investigator they are robot, both win. If the investigator identifies a robot, the investigator wins.

 

Investigator and suspect pick a penalty card. Investigator selects interview packet and asks the suspect questions to determine if they are a robot or a human. The questions are framed so they will test whether the suspect is a human or a robot. The suspect has to go through obstacles to prove that they are human, in both the Module and Interrogation parts. The robot has certain actions they cannot perform (e.g., you may not admit to having any bad intentions). If asked about them, the robot can perform penalty actions to avoid answering. This will give the investigator a signal that they are a robot. The relationship between investigator and suspect started out friendly (with the role reveal) but could turn hostile, since the interrogation is one-way. As a Robot, I felt trapped in a difficult place when the investigator kept drilling me. I was put into a lot of stress since all the questions could trigger the restricted action. It felt much easier to be an investigator than a suspect.

 

Compared to other secret identity games, Inhuman Conditions was more stressful and required better bluffing. So much of the game was in the dialogue between the two. As a result, I felt more stressed than I had fun or a social connection to my playing partner. The limited player count and the one-way interrogation of the game made the experience very less pleasant. I would add mechanics where the suspect can engage or fool the investigator, since it felt much easier for the investigator to win. For example, the suspect could have a second identity that’s revealed based on some trigger.¬† I would also make the Investigator’s role more difficult by making the question list less triggering for the robot. For example, some questions could be red herrings to distract the investigator. Lastly, once the investigator determines that the Suspect is a Human, there is no way of ending the game early. This happened 2 mins into the game and we just sat in silence until the 5 min timer ended. I would provide a way for players to end the game early.

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