Carry the frustration of injustice in this game about racist police violence

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I don’t know, I sort of think this would have been better as an even more free-form improv storytelling thing.

The RPG mechanics like “frustration points” only serve to abstract the very thing that this game is trying to communicate: what it actually feels like to live in a racist police state. Looking at it from a white player’s perspective, what do I care how many frustration points I have? It’s just a number to be counted and - if relevant to gameplay - optimized. It’s kind of forced to say “you feel X frustrated about this”, when in practice a lot of white players probably wouldn’t feel frustrated. It’s deeper to acknowledge that and investigate it rather than using a mechanic to abstractly represent what the player is supposed to feel.

The core problem is that within a bounded game, it’s hard to represent the impact of having to keep your head down and your mouth shut for your entire life. The strength of a game is that ideally you don’t have to tell the player how their character feels - the player has their own feelings about what’s happening in the game. While you can tell a player “You feel so frustrated that you think you might explode,” that doesn’t really mean much to someone who can’t already relate to that kind of experience.

So ideally the player should actually feel frustration, but that’s hard to accomplish when the actual frustration comes not from having a shitty trip to the store, but a lifetime of shitty trips to the store.

It seems like that’s the point. A while player engaging in a simpler role-playing exercise wouldn’t feel emotionally invested by simply acting out the events. By introducing an abstracted quantifiable mechanic with clear consequences it forces the player to have to engage in a kind of internal wagering, and experience a kind of anxiety, that evokes the experience being represented, even if they don’t have the shared personal experience to empathetically feel those feelings in a less structured, more narrative exercise.


I’m sorry. If I lock my car doors, that’s my decision, and it’s none of your business why I did so. If you are under the impression – mistaken or not – that I did so on sight of you, and then you proceed to attempt to engage me through the locked door, you’ve justified my action. Not everything is about you.

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Out of all the possible events within the game where one might choose to respond, you’re upset that the potential exists for someone to comment on you locking your car doors on sight of a person of color? Even when you allow that such a potential exists? Does this happen to you a great deal?

I believe there’s a forest that you may have missed for the slender brown and green things within it.


Yes, and that’s a reasonable position for an individual to take.

The idea here is to try to have some empathy for people who constantly experience people locking car doors when they walk by, or who cross the street when they see the person approaching, or who clutch their possessions a little closer to themselves.

From the perspective of the individuals taking those precautions, it undoubtedly seems reasonable to do so. They are responding to risk and uncertainty in a perfectly understandable way.

However, if you have even a scintilla of empathy, it may be worthwhile to try to put your feet in the other person’s shoes and try to understand how it might be demoralizing for all your fellow humans to be apparently mortally afraid of you.

That is, after all, the point of the game and the article to which you’re responding.

Do you have anything to say about that aspect? Or just no interest in trying to see the world from another’s point of view?


These quotes about the design of Amnesia: The Dark Descent are relevant:

not everything in a game has to be competitive in nature. Sometimes, making something game-y just destroys the feeling that you're after. [...] Instead of having every challenge as a performance test, one can let the user just experience it.

When you assign points to something, you direct player attention. You say “this is what the game is about. This is your priority.” When really, in a strongly emotional roleplaying exercise like this, the priority should be exploring the experience of the character. In Amnesia, they found that assigning a score to how scared you were actually distracted players from feeling scared, because it put them in a “problem-solving” mentality. By removing the score mechanic, it made the experience richer by freeing the player to focus on the actual experience of being chased by monsters.

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