From Le Jeu Ambiguité
to Paparazzi to ... ?
This ongoing research creation project brings together two areas of interest: game design that offers players moral dilemmas, and many players' urges to play the hero in games.
Despite the continued challenges this project has presented, it continues to hold fascination. A detailed account of the process is in the works. A timeline below lists important milestones, turning points, and setbacks in the process. It also includes links to many of the project's original documents. It's our hope that by providing these documents and discussions we can normalize the nonlinear, the messy, the mistakes that always occur in the game creation and research process.
From idea to conception to idea to ...
Summer - Fall 2015
January 2022 - present
Thorsten Busch, Carolyn Jong and I interview players who enjoy ethical dilemmas in games. We explore how players interpret moral meaning from gameplay, and investigate how game structures, including game length, avatar presentation, and the presence of choice push players in particular ways. In 2016 we publish "Playing a better me: How players rehearse their ethos via moral choices" in Games and Culture.
During the summer of 2015 I prepared a grant application to FRQ-SC for a research-creation project, the game, Le Jeu Ambiguité. It would be designed to push individuals who always want to play the hero in a new direction - by encouraging them to explore moral ambiguity. In October I submitted my proposal.
What will eventually become Paparazzi begins planning and then production. The game attempts to stretch beyond its Ren'Py engine to offer mini-games and stat builders/boosters along with an engaging story about the murky world of celebrity photography.
A demo was shown at the Meaningful Play conference in October 2018. A final downloadable version was released on Mac and PC in early 2019 [Note: each file is >100Mb].
Work begins on revamping Paparazzi 1.0. Ideas include shortening the story, cutting out some sub-plots and mini-games, and axing the economic system.
In re-doing the story, the team determines that one potential fix is to better define the player character's role, giving them a more concrete background and personality. Team members each make Twine prototypes to explore what this might look like, including this one.
The team decides to put the original version aside and instead create a new, smaller version that experiments with the idea of using game mechanics to serve as metaphors for being a paparazzi. One version is to have the player "toss words" at celebrities to get a reaction and try to get a shot, tentatively titled "Shout'N'Shoot."
The idea of using game mechanics as metaphors continues to interest the team. Mia and Dan decide to each create a small mini-game and compare notes as the move forward. Mia's version, in progress, will use the game engine RPG Maker to demonstrate another metaphor- how celebrity photographers often hunt their targets, provoke them in various ways, battling to get the right images. More information TBA.