80 Days

While playing 80 Days, there were multiple aspects of the game that I really enjoyed. Firstly, I really liked the narrative and the power given to the player to make choices that came with consequences and changed the story. Towards the beginning of the game, the choices did seem a bit arbitrary, and I was mostly making choices randomly because I did not understand the types of consequences they could have. However, I soon got the hang of it and better understood how my choices might influence the gameplay. This got me much more invested in the story and motivated me to try to make good choices. I also was really surprised by the number of choices I had made throughout the game that changed the narrative, and even more surprised by the number of choices that existed that I never explored. I am really curious how much the writers had to write and how many different branches there are in the story’s tree. 

The time mechanic of the game was really interesting and unique. The time mechanic added a layer of complexity because I not only had to manage resources and strategically move around the map, but I also had to be able to manage my time. It also added a sense of urgency because options would become unavailable to me if I waited too long, forcing me to sometimes make decisions without having time to analyze the full picture.

In Meghna Jayanth’s keynote titled “White Protagonism and Imperial Pleasures in Game Design,” she talks about how video games continue to push values related to colonialism and capitalism and often have “white protagonists” that work to embed white values within the game. After watching her keynote, something I am wondering is whether 80 Days successfully subverts “white protagonism,” which is what she says she attempted to do when designing the game. She says that one way that the game does this is by making Passepartout, the servant, the protagonist rather than Phileas Fogg, his master. While this is true, I feel like this servant-master relationship is not really explored in the game. Fogg’s health was an important component of the game, but it just felt like another resource to manage. It didn’t really feel like I was developing a relationship with Fogg in any way, and it didn’t help me understand what it would feel like to be subservient to someone else. Fogg also appears in the narrative, but without the constant use of the word “master,” I would have never known that Fogg was my master and would have just thought he was a friend of some kind. 

By the end of the game, I felt that while Passperpartout was acting as a servant, he ultimately still came across as a white person with the privilege to travel around the world that other people might not have been afforded. I don’t think he experienced any significant hardships along the way due to his race, especially compared to what one may have experienced as a person of color traveling around the world. At the end, he completely shared in his master’s joy about having won the wager. Not everyone can just drop everything and travel around the world because of a silly wager with friends. Not everyone can even have the opportunity to work for someone like that. 

Lastly, the resource management and map travel mechanics were fun, but it only served to make the main motivation in each location about making money, whether that be through optimizing buying/selling resources or optimizing travel in an effort to win a wager at the end. Not only does this reinforce capitalist ideas, but it prevents the protagonist from critically engaging with cultures that exist outside of “whiteness.” 

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  1. Hi! I really liked your comment about how “Not everyone can just drop everything and travel around the world because of a silly wager with friends. Not everyone can even have the opportunity to work for someone like that.” I feel like that’s very valid and true that it’s not possible for many people to have that experience, and I also thought it was interesting how the language reinforces certain stereotypes or values of white saviorism apparent in the game.

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