Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Nosy Neighbors"

My social impact game, called “Nosy Neighbors” would present the difficulties facing people when presented with a world where information can easily run rampant. I don’t know if any of you have visited the website, http://www.rottenneighbor.com, but it’s fascinating and lends itself to a potentially great game. In it, you can type in your address and you are given a satellite map of your neighborhood along with blips that indicate comments about the neighbors that surround you. The idea of providing extremely negative personal information about your neighbor might seem appealing in the moments which you hear them screaming at their wives for the fiftieth time this week, but how do you think publishing those thoughts can affect their lives?

My game provides a simulated environment where you are the neighbor who is being slandered. You go about your daily activities but are presented with a very stressful life, where you must make choices and sacrifices in order to survive. You get points for keeping your family clothed and fed, while not being ostracized by the community at large. A roll of the dice will determine your lifestyle and your job. In no way will you be able to support your family at the economic level that they desire and still be able to give a good impression to your neighborhood. You will be given options – either neglecting the upkeep of your house to make sure you get to work on time, or making sure the outward appearance of your home is perfect but failing to meet the needs of your family which propels a loud fight between you and your spouse. Later, you find out that your neighbor has posted that you are either abusive or a drug lord, assumptions he makes because of the state of your marriage and/or your home. The game unfolds as people around you react to such a posting. You lose your job, you are investigated by the cops and people in general, no longer respect you. Points accumulate as you attempt to navigate your extremely stressful life; the more difficult it becomes, the more advanced your level. Winning the game is virtually impossible, as you success is hindered by more obstacles because your reputation has been severely maligned.

This game propels us to understand the true significance of internet information. Virtual gossip is not innocent and can deeply affect the lives we have outside of the digital world. By putting us in the shoes of someone who has been slandered, the game challenges us to look deeper into possibilities of internet information. Sometimes misunderstanding and misrepresentations of the truth have profound repercussions that cannot be easily overcome. “Nosy Neighbors” tries to engage our understanding of the difficulties facing us in a world where an angry comment can be technologically amplified and lead to the detriment of a person’s success.

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