Feeling trapped by a pickup artist
Dating simulation at IndieCade shows how games can help us understand others.
A woman looks for her friends at a bar and accidentally makes eye contact with a man. The man comes over. He stands between the woman and her friends. He professes his love to the woman, but she’s never met him before.
The man is a pickup artist, and his goal is simple: to use conversation to trick the woman into going home with him. He touches her arm and begs for just a moment of her time. Does she laugh? Or run? She tries to leave, but he pleads and tries to hold her hand.
The scene is from “The Game: The Game,” one of more than four dozen titles featured this weekend in Santa Monica at IndieCade, an international festival devoted to independent games. Played from the perspective of a female-identifying character as she attempts to make her way to a bar stool, this video game aims to explore the tactics of pickup artists, showing players how to recognize them and navigate around them.
When the president of the United States declares it’s a “very scary time” to be a man, it’s clear that among the many lessons of the #MeToo era he missed is this one: It is impossible for a straight male to know what it’s like to get through even the most ordinary of days as a woman.
So maybe everyone can benefit from playing more games.
“The Game: The Game,” for instance, exposes the manipulative seduction tactics of many men and reveals how daily life can suddenly make people feel as if they are trapped in a psychological horror film.
But “The Game: The Game,” created by Angela Washko, an artist and professor at Carnegie Mellon University, is not just a condemnation of the so-called “pickup artist” community. It also illustrates how every conversation between the sexes can suddenly devolve into a mess of he said/ she said/ he didn’t listen/ why is he still not listening.
When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday Where: Santa Monica College Center for Media and Design, 1660 Stewart St., Santa Monica Cost: $30 for festival Info: indiecade.com