Cruel 2B Kind Write-up (Ember Fu)

Partnered with Miranda Diaz

Cruel 2B Kind, as I understood it, was a game about encouraging people to compliment others and spread positivity through Assassins-like gameplay. By this vein, one criticism I had of the game was the involvement of having to walk up to strangers and compliment them in a specific way–while this may be part of the original game’s goal, not everyone is comfortable with this kind of task, and even the game’s guise would not lessen the burden of such confrontation. As mentioned, the type of compliment and the RPS mechanics of the weapons adds further complication and burden on the player. Hence, we decided to not play completely anonymously and have compliment-duels within the group, battle royale style. We also modded the weapons specifically to be Holiday (wish someone a happy fake holiday), Intriguing (comment on something intriguing about them), and Celebrity (act like/talk to the opponent like they are a certain celebrity).

(All participants starting as a 1-person team, individually face off)

(Two pairs finish up and fight each other, one pair on the left have gotten into several ties and keep trying)

The game felt like a fun bonding exercise that encouraged coming up with good compliments on the fly. Participants seemed to be having fun with the chaotic suddenness of “duking” it out with compliments. Between this and the cheering teams formed, it felt like on the surface competitive dynamics emerged, but all in good fun given the comfortable atmosphere.  There was a light incentive to give a good compliment due to the booty reward of the game, but the simplicity and low stakes kept focus on the positive vibes rather than a need to win. On this note, another mod we added was that instead of being a disposable but nice item, the booty would be a compliment or affirmation that the participants wrote on an index card at the start of the game. This was to again remove more stakes from the game and put additional focus on the ‘giving kindness’ part of the game. The end prize would then be all the index cards, such that the winner receives lots of kindness as a nice reward. Everyone else also gets to feels nice for giving that reward rather than feeling like they lost anything.

(Participants writing their compliments/affirmations on index cards before the battle royale started)

(Final battle with two teams and their winning captains facing off)

Our mods worked pretty well as we intended, with a pleasantly surprising good ending. While the winner had the option to just keep all of their booty, our winner chose to redistribute their booties so that everyone ended up with a compliment/affirmation card anyways. Then, everyone gathered to read their card aloud to the group and appreciate them, overall showing how the game can foster notions of giving and sharing kindness naturally. There weren’t any truly catastrophic fails as we ran the game, though at first there was a little hiccup over how to instantiate the battles to ensure the compliments were given at the same time. We clarified to use a count-down RPS-style, which was important as our mod made this a more straightforward battle royale, whereas in the original game, people must find and react to each other.

(Winner making the choice to redistribute the affirmations booties)

(The group reading their affirmations out loud together)

Aside from this, something worth noting again was that the stranger aspect of the game is removed in our version. I think the mentioned burden on the player could be too much when there is not a high enough likelihood that they are complimenting a participant that might happen to be a stranger, rather than the other way around. If we had more time to prepare the game and more social capital, I would like to see how the game is run with a larger group in particular area with a strong density of participants mixed in with strangers. I also think it would be interesting to explore tweaking the specific weapons if we ran the game again just like we did today, such that we used more thought-provoking compliments/comments like Intriguing for all the weapons, rather than funny ones like Holiday and Celebrity.

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