So I spoke to Amy this morning because I’m torn between two ideas and I kind of decided I’m just going to pursue both until further notice to see which one grips me more.
Idea 1: Poverty & Home
I read Poverty, By America and a recent New York Times article about people living in their cars and this existence of this trapped middle class in America that doesn’t qualify for aid yet can’t afford rent.
This would be a game where readers play as an American in the present day living on this brink of poverty, beginning with a house and a car and a job and trying to hold on to these assets in the face of adversity and systemic difficulties.
The map would begin in the player’s home and work space, and as they face moments of good and bad luck they can choose whether to invest in short-term fixes vs long-term risk and vice-versa. Depending on whether the player is unlucky, the map will likely shift to the player’s car if they’re evicted and potentially to a shelter if they face parking tickets or have to sell their car. It would be a rather pessimistic but unfortunately realistic game where you can’t win no matter how smart your decisions were.
Idea 2: Dreamy Fluidity Bird
In class when we were brainstorming about trends to bring awareness too, I found myself thinking about a pet peeve where people feel compelled to choose discrete labels to describe every aspect of themselves, leaving little room for fluidity, change, subjectivity, “gray spaces,” etc.
I also wanted to pull inspiration from Haruki Murakami’s short story Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey; about a talking monkey who had a habit of “stealing people’s names”. Basically, if he stole something with someone’s name on it (ID card, nametag, receipt, etc), he could “steal their name” and get some emotional high and they would forget their name for a little bit. As far as the power of language and words goes, I think it’s an interesting idea.
I want the game to exist with a magical realism tone in a dream-like space. Users would play as a bird who lives in the liminal, undefined, and fluid dream space between discrete labels, and as more people feel compelled to “define” themselves, this space erodes. The map would consist of multiple people as spaces, perhaps represented by their dreams or their brains, and you, as the bird, go out and “eat” or “steal” people’s labels. In doing this, you set them free and allow them to be undefined, and you work to build back your home!