The Game: The Game comes with a pretty extensive trigger warning to begin with, and should only be played if you are 100% certain you’re happy and comfortable to do so. As such, this article will contain some of the experiences I have experienced so far whilst playing. Please do not read any further if this is a sensitive topic for you.
Angela Washko is the creator of The Game: The Game, starting as a project funded by the College of Fine Arts and the Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art at the Frontier Grant, and releasing as an installation at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York.
The Game: The Game is a dating simulator with a twist, as it quickly leads you down horrific scenarios that you are complicit in – Complete with a suitably unnerving sound track composed by Xiu Xiu; Angela Washko started out by building a platform within the popular online game World of Warcraft, aiming to make it a safer and more enjoyable place for women.
She attempted to do the same within the pickup artist community, and quickly found she did not have the same respect or voice; receiving threats of rape and death, she had to move away and privatise her social media in order to keep herself safe. These horrid individuals even managed to find her address – As such, The Game: The Game is based off of these experiences.
Gameplay is pretty simple, you’re given options on how to respond, and that leads you down different pathways, visual novel style. There are apparently around 50 different endings, including meeting a celebrity or two, burning down an apartment, and finding a happily ever after. Of these endings I have met the celebrities… And I’m yet to find my happily ever after. The artwork is also amazing made by layering and colouring photos and stills – You play as a woman headed out to meet your friends at a local bar, and there you run into several men, based on real life pick up artists and their published texts and videos.
You get to experience firsthand the persistent and dehumanising tactics they use to get women into bed, no matter what the method. The first pickup artist you meet is James; he uses commands, and will physically manhandle you against your will. Putting up a fight can result in him insulting you, and telling you that you are overreacting. There are many different ways in which you can proceed, and different ways in which the interaction can pan out… However in order to find this out, you have to go along with what he is asking. It’s definitely an uncomfortable experience as the more aggressive and defensive options will end the game pretty quickly.
The next man will use hypnotic and calming techniques in order to create a false sense of security, slowly breaking down your guard – Another will take one second of consent to mean consent for the rest of your time with him… Including a situation where you are sleeping, and if you say no… He will start to get himself off in your bed in front of you.
Another will constantly ‘neg’ you, and tell you how lucky you are he’s talking to you, that he isn’t attracted to you so that when he does show interest you feel “lucky” and “flattered”. Yet another will publically humiliate you in front of your friends… As you can tell, all the tactics used are pretty uncomfortable and unnerving, and to some they can seem unbelievable, but it is important to remember that all of these interactions are taken directly from source materials and case studies, and some situations are played out word for word – This is a huge strength of The Game: The Game as it allows you to work out what tactics are useable to avoid situations presented within the gameplay, and how to better tackle these situations in real life.
It’s a brilliant game available for free, and is pretty interesting as well from an artistic display point of view, and opens up a lot of room for discussion and to raise awareness. I know many women (And men) will recognise the types of men (Or other women) within this game. Now I’m not going to rate this game, but I am going to suggest that if you are able to, experience it for yourself. Not many games come across nowadays that tackle themes like this, and raise discussions about such hard-hitting topics.