Test Play: 11 March 2019
Live Action Instagram RPG
Knowing that social media functions by amplifying some voices while suppressing others, this interactive game will ask you to rethink your own relation to the medium. Like the practices of 'counterspeech' or 'contra-internet', it suggests new ways to talk back to social media spaces which have become especially hostile towards women. Through the performance and labour of roleplay, you are invited to critically explore this setting, and vicariously engage with its mechanisms and 'players'.
Unlike Gamification, which is the application of game-design elements to non-game contexts, this project relies on the already-existing gaming mechanisms in social media culture. As such, it is not the creation of a new game – but simply an invitation to play differently.
What you need
- Laptop & smartphone
- Internet connection
- Gameplay cards
- Always begin & end the game together
- Always play in teams of 2 or more
- Stay in character until further instruction
- Always follow back users who follow you
- Always screenshot your engagements in order of play
- Always tag / mention the game's main profile in your posts & comments, this way we can document your actions @raksasi1
- After the game, decide together whether to kill / donate the profile
How to play
In groups of two or more, create fake identities and profiles on Instagram. Picking up cards from a deck, perform the actions on the card. Document the engagement you receive. More attention = more points. The team with the most points after 10 rounds, wins.
- Divide into teams of 2.
- Each time picks up one character card. Discuss, in your teams, what your target and mission is.
- Create a new mail account with a free, secure service like Protonmail. All you need is a username & password. https://protonmail.com/signup
- Open Instagram, and select: Add Account > Sign Up with email
- Set a username and password that cannot be traced back to you. Do not connect any of your personal accounts or contacts to the profile.
- Decide if you want a public or private profile. Turn off 'Hide offensive comments' in Settings > Privacy & Security > Comment Controls
- Set up your profile (what is your profile pic? who do you follow? what is in your bio? whose voice are you representing?).
- Once everyone is ready, we exchange handles, and all profiles follow the primary game profile. @raksasi1
- Before we play the first round, each team is given a set of 4 "Gardening cards". These may be employed only once, and in place of picking up an action card.
– Gardening card 1: Call allies to a conversation
– Gardening card 2: Call 1 ally to a conversation
– Gardening card 3: Maintain a conversation
– Gardening card 4: Skip action (this one can be employed after picking up an action card)
- Picking up cards from two decks, each team then completes 5 actions:
– Pick up action card + channel card
– Perform the chosen action on the chosen channel
– Make screenshot
– Save post to own archive
Always tag @raksasi1 in your comments and posts!
- At the end of 5 rounds, do one round of evaluation and discussion.
- Picking up cards, each team then completes another 5 actions
- Final round of evaluation, count points and decide on fate of accounts
- For every follower at end of game: 1 point
- For every like on comments or posts: 2 points
- For every flagged comment or post: 4 points
- For every DM received: 3 points
- For every reply to a comment or post: 2 points
Player notes & observations:
- The game is too structured, making distractions difficult to engage with: "We got distracted by dms from people wanting to solicit sex (email@example.com, @wilson_sandra_11)."
- There are different levels of difficulty when it comes to actions. Maybe good to look at that in terms of gameplay?: "Commenting is quite easy, fact checking is hard and takes time"
- Some actions were skipped because of uncomfortable factor, and questions about legality and accountability: "I was too afraid to tag the IDF"
- More at: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/tash-testplay01
Feedback for development:
- set up- takes too long, at least 30 mins
- protonmail may ask for extra authentication. solution = prepare emails beforehand
- increase interactivity between players, direct competition is not as important
- giving 'characters' in this way is actually too stifling. some teams get stuck with targets they have no interest in
- solution = prepare a list of options and accounts to engage with, then ask them to CHOOSE
- trolling needs a balance between chaos & order, spontaneity & structure. at the moment the game doesn't allow for enough chance encounters
- more explanation and in-depth preparation & evaluation is needed. workshop structure!
- channel cards may be unnecessary. give more options to players, to make the game more about strategy and choice
- timing: ideal time to play: 3 hours? with lunch in the middle?
- question: gender of players?