What do Prototypes Prototype? (Selaine Rodriguez)

When exploring our initial prototype, there were many design decisions we had to make, and many that we simplified in order to run the prototype with less challenges. However, some of these simplifications are choices we hope to see change as we continue to work on the project.

How should happiness versus money be weighed in our game?

In our game, we hoped to prioritize people generating as much happiness as possible across categories and achieving the “best” life they possibly can. We decided to do so relying on different ways to acquire these positive things in life, specifically creating happiness points and money points. However, our teams moral values (and socioeconomic status) led to us prioritizing happiness over wealth. We decided we wanted to weigh wealth more greatly but weren’t sure if to use a conversion factor, trading system, or another system to represent this difference but also not confuse the player.  We decided to use a prototype that had an equal number of wealth and happiness cards, and then a toss-up of chance cards that target happiness more. We also tried to give more happiness points for good situation, in comparison to how many points we give for good financial gains. Our guess was that the balancing of how we distributed our points would lead to happiness being prioritized, and happiness leading to more winners than wealth.

Should we factor in real-life inequalities and respective actions to mimic life more?

When talking about creating our game, we wanted it to be realistic, allowing the users to submerge themselves in this new little life they are creating. However, we weren’t sure if we wanted to bring along some of the more realistic, but also unidealistic parts of life. Specifically, when designing our character cards, we considered including traits such as starting happiness and starting wealth. Income inequality and poverty negatively affect most of America, and we weren’t sure if we should include that in the game. For example, should individuals born into generational wealth be represented in character cards by having a player start off with more wealth? We decided to avoid having these negative feelings and discrepancies in our prototype, hoping that starting with a blank slate would lead to better gameplay, as individuals are able to craft their own story. We hope that excluding these qualities allows people to enjoy the game more, as it doesn’t become too similar to real life, and consequently too stressful/sad/worrisome when discussing inequalities.

How much can one event positively or negatively affect a player?

When designing our sample cards, we wondered how many points we could give to each event. We want to make sure that larger events were more positive/negative (ex. birth, death) versus the day-to-day things. We went off of our personal opinions when deciding how positive or negative an event was, and tried to stick to +1 or -1 effects for this sake. We hoped that keeping the arithmetic simple would make the final totaling and general understanding of what’s going on in the game more enjoyable. This simplification in our prototype may change, but then our total/summing system may have to change as well.

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