A young woman models an elaborate dress in front of a shadowy and judgmental audience. As she contorts her body into increasingly untenable positions, the audience rewards her with their approval. If she stops, they scowl, then leave.
This isn’t a description of a fashion show. It’s the premise of the new Kinect game and art installation, A Fitting, which asks players to put themselves in physical pain to gain the admiration of others.
Creators Amanda Dittami and Blair Kuhlman, both of the Interactive Arts and Media Department at Columbia College Chicago, wanted to make a game that reflected a young woman’s painful experience of trying to feel attractive in a society that sets impossible standards for beauty. It’s a social experiment, and for Dittami, 24, a personal one.
“I think about this issue every day,” she says. “It used to be worse, but just getting dressed and putting on makeup, I think about it. That’s one of the reasons it was so important to make the game.””
Games are uniquely suited to audience identification. As players, we directly control our characters, the movements of our hands corresponding to their movements in virtual worlds. Multiple genres literally place you in your protagonist’s head, looking out, while the world and characters address you directly. The stated goal of many games is to provide an accurate simulation of a fictional scenario – to make you, the player, feel like you’re experiencing an alternate reality.
Which makes it all the more effective when games lie to us, instead.
Important, maybe-obvious distinction: I’m not talking about characters within the game lying to the main character. That’s just deceiving the protagonist, and that’s a trope that’s as old as fiction – even if our increased identification with our character does increase the emotional intensity of the lie. I’m more interested in the game itself, the systems put in place by the designers, actively attempting to deceive the player.”
Will Hughes’ post is well worth a full read.
In a new interview with Game Informer, Bowling says the core objective behind Human Element is survival. “Their greatest strength is the fear that [zombies] instill in us, the survivors, that unreasonable fear. Unreasonable fear that leads us to do unreasonable things to survive,” he said.
Human Element ‘s character creation system allows players to choose between three different character classes, Action, Intelligence, and Stealth, and three different identities, Survive Alone, Survive with a Partner, and Survive with a Young Child.
“How you choose to start in the world will determine how you can engage and impacts the scenarios you will be presented with on a physical and morality level.”
Human Element is slated for release on next-generation consoles, PC, mobile, and tablets in 2015.”
This idea… colour me interested.