Orientation and Attraction in Abstraction
A downloadable game
Game mechanics can be very effective analogies. Games let us experience things that we might not ever experience, and they teach us empathy through that.
A Psychology professor originally ran a very simple version of this game with us to simulate how people tend to partner off with someone who is about as physically attractive as them by their culture's standards. By designing the game to be playable without telling us what the mechanics represented, we were able to focus on player behavior instead of our real-world experiences and prejudices.
In the original game, every player pulls a random number from a hat and holds it up to their forehead so they can't read it but everyone else can. The goal is to make eye contact and hold hands with the player with the highest number possible. Players inevitably ended up with someone whose number is very close to their own number.
I've added more variables (gender identity, sexual orientation, material wealth) and structure to the concept, with the intention of covering more themes that can come up in romantic relationships.
[Keep in mind that I haven't play tested it yet, and I am no way an expert. Please contact me if something misrepresents your experience and/or could be more damaging than educational.]
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