Feel­ing trapped by a pickup artist

Dat­ing sim­u­la­tion at IndieCade shows how games can help us un­der­stand oth­ers.

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - By Todd Martens

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

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