Week 7 – Proof of concept

Feb 21 – 27

We did an informal playtest this week as a proof of concept for our game, “Give me your gun!”. It was an impromptu one done with both Americans and non-Americans, with one of us being the actor. Here are some of our key takeaways, and how we hope to address them.

1. The Americans found the experience uncomfortable.
The Americans felt that the experience was quite awkward, as this was a topic which they generally wanted to avoid arguing with friends about. It felt like the opposite of a game – this was not fun at all for them. The non-Americans, on the other hand, seemed to be enjoying themselves asking questions.

→ We’re not too sure how to address this awkwardness, but not having a friend as the actor would probably be a start. There should also be more game elements.

2. The audience, especially the Americans, felt the actor was arguing just for the sake of arguing.
Some of the playtesters mentioned that it seemed like there was no way to get the actor to give up his gun. Everything they said was countered, even when the counter didn’t really make that much sense or seemed to contradict what was said before. It also started feeling draggy after a while.

→ There needs to be feedback about the progress through the game, as well as a clear win state. The actor also needs a backstory to make it easier to keep track of his character facts and won’t accidentally contradict himself.

3. There is a danger of the audience refusing to participate in the experience.
There was a point in the playtest when one of the Americans said to the actor, “You’re crazy,” and didn’t really want to engage anymore. After the experience, that playtester mentioned that since it was just some random character whom she had no relationship with, she felt no obligation to try and change the actor’s mind.

→ We need to humanize the character and give the audience a reason to care. Perhaps they can get to know the character’s backstory and understand why they have such a stance on gun ownership.

4. Unexpected questions can stump the actor.
There were some questions which were completely unexpected and brought into play other controversial topics, such as “You believe in god right? Your god wants you to drop your gun now.” This could potentially detract the audience from the main point of the game, which is gun ownership, not religion or LGBT rights or any other controversial topic. It also created an awkward silence as the actor thinks of what to say.

→ If we could have some way of preventing those questions from being asked, that would be really great. But realistically speaking, the actor needs to be able to quickly reply and draw the conversation back on track.

One of the ideas we threw around was using 2 actors instead of one, with the second actor voicing the questions given by the audience. This could potentially solve a number of problems, such as actor 2 acting as a filter and deciding which questions to ask (point 4), and making it “safe” for the audience to ask questions since it wasn’t them directly interacting with the first actor (point 1).

We also started making plans for a trip down to NYC to check out the venue at Parsons the New School for Design, which is where our game is to be held at. More on that next week!