P3: breaking my silence

Print n’ Play:



breaking my silence is a satirical role-playing game modeled after Youtube drama. It aims to give players a “behind-the-scenes” glimpse at what really motivates the content creation industry: the fight for followers.

At its core, players choose which character they want to roleplay as from a cast of six fictional Youtubers, each with a whacky brand and personality. Then, they go toe-to-toe as they debate “controversial” video topics (such as “pineapple on pizza,” “socks and sandals,” and “is water wet?”). At the end of each round, players bet on their favorite Youtuber, staking their own followers and reputation in the process. Ultimately, the weighted spin of the Youtube algorithm decides who feels the sting of a DMCA strike and who profits off the platform’s drama.

Our goal with breaking my silence was ultimately to simulate Youtube controversy and cancel culture. The real workflow of Youtubers is often shrouded by the apparent “glamor” of the career, but in an increasingly online world, it is important to remember that even your favorite creator is motivated by profit. Youtube is a platform on which you must fight for the adoration of the masses whilst dodging scandals and cancellation, and we hope that putting players into the mindset of content creators drives home that point. However, to keep the game fun, we give them silly, non-controversial topics to argue over. This way, players can experience the process without starting legitimate fights.

Concept Maps

Original Maps



Final Map

Our final map ended up fairly similar to our original maps. However, aspects of the Community Judgement and Role-play components were modified.


History of Versions

Ideation & Brainstorming

Going into P3, we knew as a team that we wanted to create a systems game that was satirical in nature. With this in mind, we brainstormed ideas individually and came into the first meeting with a goal to decide on an idea that struck a balance between satire, systems, and complexity. Eventually, we decided to focus on social media and narrowed it down to YouTubers and “cancel culture” to reduce the complexity of social media as a system.


After spending further time to brainstorm mechanics and learning goals, we eventually landed on our initial game idea as a judging game where players act as content creators who are trying to gain followers by posting controversial videos. In this initial version, players are able to select from theme cards that decide the topic of the video and can also play “rumor” cards that slander their opponent. In playing this loop, the players aim to gain the most followers. We chose this to be our main loop as we wanted to roughly simulate the experience of being a YouTuber that fights for views on an increasingly controversy-happy platform.

Playtest 1 – 11/9/2023

Demographics: 21M, 21F, 22M, 23F | 377G Students

For this playtest, our goal was to test the core gameplay loop of pitting two players against each other and having them act out videos on a randomly selected topic. For this prototype, we used cards from the prototype kit as our “Theme” and “Rumor” cards and used the dice as our spinner. From this playtest, our main learnings were:

  • Players might feel uncomfortable discussing legitimately controversial topics. In this playtest, players did not feel uncomfortable but many mentioned how others might encounter this issue.
  • Roleplaying can add a lot to the game. Players ended up creating their own YouTuber name. Additionally, players expressed some uncertainty about whether they should create the video from their perspective or if it should be from another persona.
  • Judging players want to have stakes in the drama. One player mentioned that maybe players could be involved through comments and that there is a lot of idle time while waiting for acting players.
  • Parts of the game need to be clarified. There were several minor experiences of confusion that players encountered such as generating the bracket, time limit for acting, debate order for players, and how the support from each player affects the odds.


Overall, this playtest was super successful. Players really enjoyed roleplaying and coming up with stories surrounding the “rumors” we gave them. Going forward, we decided to implement changes from all of our learnings. To do this, we decided to: (1) change the theme cards to be sillier to avoid any discomfort that may come from sensitive subjects, (2) add character cards to give players a persona and further highlight the role of the YouTuber’s personality and values in the system, (3) allow players to wager their own followers to give judging players more agency and simulate how YouTubers can support one another or “clout chase”, and (4) clarify the rules to reduce player confusion.

Playtest 2 – 11/13/2023

Demographics: Design Masters students in mid to late twenties | a mix of genders and cultural backgrounds represented in the group.

In this playtest, we worked with a group of students that were not aware of our focus on a system game. As a result, for this playtest we wanted to see how players received the game and its learning goals as well as test out the addition of character cards and changes to the “theme” cards. After playtesting our main takeaways were:

  • Character cards were great and changed the dynamic of the game. Premade characters led to a good start but one player suggested “maybe we could have some kind of ‘create-your-youtuber’ template they could follow.
  • Silly topics are the way to go. Players did not mention feeling uncomfortable or any concerns with topics. Players did have questions about specific niche words however such as “swatting.” Additionally, players expressed wanting more control in deciding the theme. We actually had to stop recording at their request. We did not record in future playtests as a result.
  • With multiple matchups, cards, and tokens the playspace became confusing to organize. Players had difficulty understanding whose turn it was and where they should place follower tokens and cards.
  • What are the videos supposed to be? Players were often confused about how the video should address the topic and what it should be about.

We learned a lot from the second playtest and decided to maintain some mechanics and change others. First, we decided to keep premade character cards as we wanted to highlight specific personas and values and how they’re represented in social media. Additionally, we decided to keep the topics sillier and leave the definition off the card as it could be a learning moment for the player; we did, however, implement a mechanic where the player can pick from three themes to give them greater choice. With regards to the remaining takeaways, we were not able to address them immediately, but resolved them after later playtests. There are no pictures from this playtest at the request of the players.

Playtest 3 – 11/14/2023

Demographics: 22F, 23F, 21M, 20F | 377G Students

For this in-class playtest, we had a prototype with greater fidelity through printed cards and a custom-made physical spinner! Additionally, we specifically wanted to focus on unguided testing using the rule sheet and new rule changes such as follower wagering, character cards, and drawing mechanics. In this playtest, the main feedback revealed several points of confusion such as:

  • Are rumor and action cards the same? Players were confused about whether rumor and action cards were the same as they were mentioned in the rule sheet.
  • How and when does betting occur? Players were confused by the order of betting and if you are able to wager followers before the acting.
  • Are the videos a debate? Players were still confused by the context of the videos and how they should be structured. Some players struggled to create a story out of the cards but this was due to their randomness and they managed to make it work through some creativity.
  • What is the win-condition? Players were still confused about how to win and what exactly is a DMCA strike.



Many players laughed during the playtest and engaged with their roles very well. Players often addressed one another by the name of their character card and used that to inform the acting of their video. One player even stated that it “simulates the online scene pretty well.” And, while some questions came from the playtest, it flowed smoothly with players having no issues playing through the first round. To address these questions and issues from previous playtests, we implemented the following changes:

  • Modified rules to clarify the goal
  • Players introduce themselves as their personality before the game. This sets the scene and allows other players to understand who each player is.
  • Modified rules to have players wager after the acting.
  • Modified rules to emphasize the first video to be entertaining while the response video should “go after their video, their credibility, their life, whatever it takes to get people on your side.”
  • Added game board for better organization.
  • Added color player token to identify who was player 1 or player 2.

Playtest 4 – 11/16/2023

Demographics: 22M, 21M, 21M, 21F, 23F, 21F | 377G Students

In this in-class playtest, we worked with our biggest group of players. In addition to testing the changes from the last playtest, we wanted to see how the game would be played with six players as opposed to four. Furthermore, we also had a new game board to test! Overall, we learned that:

  • Betting and odds of betting were very imbalanced. When playing with six players, if multiple players voted for one person then the odds of being struck out were around 90%. Players should vote anonymously at the same time.
  • The betting players seemed to have an advantage over the dueling players. Betting players were able to gain more followers than the players actually dueling.
  • There needs to be stakes in losing. There are no stakes in players losing followers if they are “canceled” or choosing to support someone so it’s hard to understand the purpose of that. One player even stated that they “could see how this mimics social media because of how people say random shit all the time for views” but they felt it was strange how followers were used and recommended it should be called “credibility points.”
  • Players act creatively and unexpectedly. One player decided to use their phone to play music while they were acting. The opposing player did the same thing. In the future, it would be cool to have some sort of sound board or prop board that players could use.



This playtest was incredibly insightful and we were also able to reflect on the way our game was balanced! Players had an easy time getting started unassisted and were able to clarify the rules to one another due to having previously scanned the QR code for a personal rule sheet. Some major imbalances were exposed, but resolving them allowed for more complexity and simulation in the system. Namely, allowing competing players to lose and gain followers based on the outcome and bets creates more relationships amongst players that simulates YouTube cancel culture. The following fixes are as below:

  • Added graphics to rules to reduce confusion.
  • Changed voting system to be anonymous and all at-once so that players aren’t incentivized to vote for the same person.
  • Changed rules to clarify who is being canceled vs who is being supported.
  • Changed rules to have consistency in naming conventions
  • Changed wagering system to allow for players being bet on to also receive an equivalent amount of follower tokens.
  • Changed rules to allow for players to lose followers if they lose the round.

Playtest 5 – 11/27/2023

Demographics: Five Design Group Students in mid twenties to early thirties | a mix of genders and cultural backgrounds represented in the group.

For this playtest, we tested with a group of five design students without any prior knowledge of the game. The biggest change that we wanted to test was to the wagering and voting system as well as the quality of life rule updates. In the playtest and after receiving feedback, we noted that:

  • The rules were clear but very long to read. With a longer rule-set players felt that it was more difficult to immediately get set up into the game. One player suggested that they would want “a summary of the things you do during the round in a visual way – text is helpful to clarify, but visuals are easy to get started.”
  • How do players build a bracket? Players were uncertain about how to build a bracket or what tool to use. They defaulted to using a table.
  • Players enjoy the personas but wonder if there might be a way to customize who they play. Many players dove straight into their personas and used it to inform their decisions. One player stated that “watching a person flop thru channeling a character is funny as hell.” Players did go on to wonder if traits could be determined and one even suggested an rpg method of selecting traits.
  • Some topics were more arguable than others. Throughout the game players really enjoyed topics that were able to have valid arguments on either side. One player noted that “It was really interesting to see my own perspective shift” throughout the duel.



In addition to these changes, there were also elements related to details that players noted such as adding pronouns to character cards, changing the word selection for who is first to go, and the number of players. Overall, this was a successful playtest and we were able to receive feedback about how the game felt and whether they were able to understand the connection to the system. From observing and post-feedback, we found that some mechanics work better than others in achieving this goal with the betting system raising the most questions. To address the learnings, we decided to:

  • Add a visual cheat sheet so that players can easily get started.
  • Add a bracket that players can use to set up matchups quickly.
  • Remove specific topics that were hard for players to argue for. Cards were selected based on observations from past playtests and our own personal discretion.
  • Implement the ability for players to create their own persona if they choose to. They are able to select from six positive and negative traits by rolling a dice.
  • Update language of the rules for clarity.

Playtest 6 – 11/28/2023

Demographics: 20F, 21F, 22F, 22F, 24M | 377G Students

In this final playtest, we implemented all of the changes from the last playtest and specifically wanted to test how and if players create their own character. As a majority of the playtesters had not previously tested our game, this would also be a test to see how the game operates with its final ruleset and game bits. Through both feedback and observations, we found that:

  • The betting system is confusing to players. Players were confused by how to bet as well as the amount that is rewarded to each player. Some players were also confused by how the odds were calculated using the spinner.
  • Players decided to use preset character cards. While we had created a system for players to create their own characters, players opted to use preset characters due to time constraints. Players still continued to dive into their personas!
  • Spectating players wanted ways to be involved. In feedback, many players expressed their desire to be able to participate while other players are acting as opposed to only judging. One player suggested that “it would be fun to have people do a pile on.”
  • The player who went first always seemed to win. In this playtest, many players noted that whoever went first seemed to win. One player noted that there might be an advantage with the first player going both first and last in the debate structure.

Maybe judging player votes holds more power over others. One player suggested that we make “the spinner allocation determined by how many followers the people who vote have, rather than counting each player equally. This helps model real world influence on YouTube.”


Final Thoughts

This game has been an absolute blast to work on. Every playtest, even the ones that bring up buckets of problems, has been a joy to behold. Our playtesters have consistently found ways to make the game funny and original, and one player really captured the spirit of the game when she jokingly described it as encouraging “dangerous takes.” We set out to make an entertaining and satirical game, and in our humble opinion, we succeeded.

However, there is still plenty of room for improvement. If we were to continue to work on breaking my silence, here are the biggest things we would focus on:

  1. Improve the betting mechanics → Players need to be able to bet without being influenced by the odds of the DMCA strike or other players.
  2. Allow for dog-piling on a scandal you’re not originally a part of → Youtubers add themselves to other creators’ drama all the time. We should model this!
  3. Find easier ways to encourage role-playing → Because this is a game based in role-playing, players without a lot of knowledge on Youtube or who are just shy struggle to get involved. There may be ways to guide them more and give them more ideas for engagement.
  4. Make it digital → Although analog games are a lot of fun, the round-robin gameplay and betting mechanics require a great deal of book-keeping that would be easily managed by a computer.

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