Meaningful Play 2016 at Michigan State University

Game Information

Presenter(s)Clay Ewing, Pablo Obando, Andrew Curtis Gaines, Alejandra Jimenez, Brandon Wilson
SessionConference Reception, Game Exhibition, and Poster Session
TimeThursday, October 20, 7:00p-10:00p
LocationMSU Union Ballroom
FormatGame Exhibition
DescriptionUnsavory is a mobile game designed to put the player in the precarious position of choosing between their health and their financial wellbeing. Like other activist games, the intention is to create awareness and empathy around an issue, paid sick leave, that is best understood as a system. Additionally, the game seeks to be a catalyst for change by embedding a social media campaign into gameplay.

In the game, you work for four weeks in an effort to earn enough money to pay your bills on time. Your job is to prepare tacos, quesadillas and burritos by matching what is on the order slips to what is in front of you. After the first week, you catch a cold, which introduces an additional mechanic of wiping your nose to stop yourself from sneezing so as to not alert your boss of your sickness. When the player first becomes sick, they receive a letter from an advocacy group that informs them about paid sick day policy in the United States. From this screen, they can select various tweets that highlight the issue through different lenses (business, public health, human rights) and target specific hashtags and accounts related to the campaign. Each time the player comes home from work sick, a new letter with additional information and the ability to tweet is presented. Thus, the game becomes a call to action allowing the player to go beyond the gameplay and get serious about trying to fix a real world problem.

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