April 2, 2009

"Your First Time"

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When you walk into a video game store, you know what you’re going to get: a lot of first person shooters, sports games and fantasy RPGs. Very little variety.

If these kinds of games appeal to you, great. If they don’t, chances are you won’t find something different for a very long time.

A recent article in CNET indicates game designers are cognizant of this problem and are working to fix this by developing more innovative games. At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, a contest on March 27, game designers worked for 36 hours to develop a game. This year, the concept was “your first time”, or an autobiographical game about how the game designers lost their virginity.

The winners were Heather Kelley and Erin Robinson, who co-developed a two-level game, with one level for each of their experiences, to be played on the Nintendo Wii or the Apple iPhone.

Since the games were developed in 36 hours, most games were described as concept and storyboards rather than as a detailed outline. Their game uses a “Humiliation Meter“, which would measure the amount of embarrassment the character feels as she progresses through each task. If the meter goes too high, the character would feel too humiliated to continue and the game would end.

Kelley’s level included a mini-game to select the least complicated dress for a date, with as few zippers, buttons and ties as possible so as to expedite the undressing process later in the evening. Then there would be mini-games for shaving the legs, removing garlic discreetly from the meal at the date, and selecting proper mood music. The game would conclude with a mini-game to “not fall off the top bunk” while back at the college dorm room, followed by the task of flicking off a mocking roommate after the fact.

Robinson’s level involved a mini-game to buy the least terrifying pack of condoms from a drug store. Then the character would go to the guy’s place and initiate the first move. Afterward, the player would have to call the best friend on the phone without accidentally dialing the character’s mom or grandmother on the speed dial instead.

What will happen from here, the article doesn’t say. Perhaps this game will go into production, or perhaps this is as far as it goes. You may find this bizarre, but at least it’s a step towards considering both new types of games as well as different target audiences.