Bricolage Mixed Media Fashion Game
Ever since the end of original arcade games, the container or case surrounding a game has been given little thought. A big part of this is just practical — physically building around the game severely limits the game’s ability to be shared or sold online. Few developers are willing to tether their piece to a specific, physical space.
This reluctance has left ‘mixed media’ games as somewhat of an untapped well. While the arcade games of the 80’s were forced to be shipped in cabinets, they rarely interacted with their housing beyond the branding, lights, and (occasionally) a specialized controller. Few games, and even fewer commercial games actively involve the game’s housing in the game itself.
Furthermore, the ‘dress-up’ genre of game I used as the underlying digital part of this project is typically only found in free, poorly rated apps, free flash-based websites, or as a small part of a larger title. The dress-up mechanic itself has not been widely explored as a vehicle for sending a message about how we regard ourselves or the clothes we wear.
My goal in creating this mixed-media prototype was to demonstrate that a game and its housing could interact with each other to deepen and reinforce the message the game is trying to communicate.
Duration: 1 week
Genres: Dress-up, fashion, mixed-media
Materials: C#, Microsoft Surface Pro 3, Cardboard, Hot Glue, Old Receipts, Acrylic Paint, Junk Mail
Bricolage theme (materials limited to premade/craft items)
If you’re worried about the fate of my poor Surface Pro, don’t worry — there’s a panel in the back that allows it to be easily removed and replaced. The game is controlled with a wireless mouse from outside the box.
The topic I decided to tackle for this project is the way we try to use fashion as a form of self expression. Too often, the fashion industry keeps us entirely ‘in the box’ when it comes to expressing our individuality. warning: art game ramblings inbound, continue reading at your own risk.
Clothes and accessories are often advertised to us as a way to set ourselves apart from the crowd and be unique, but by their nature as mass-produced goods, they do little more than sort us into stylistic boxes that others use to judge our personalities. I reflected this in the piece by separating each category of clothing into separate spaces within the box. The player must peer through a mire of advertisements to view only a small section of the screen at once. Once the player finds a section that contains items instead of just advertisements, they’ll notice that options are limited and frequently branded. This mirrors our experience in the real world where options are frequently limited to the latest styles and trends, and most expensive clothing is just an excuse to show off a logo that proves how expensive your clothing is.
This topic is especially meaningful to me. As a genderqueer woman, shopping for clothing is incredibly frustrating as it’s difficult to find styles and patterns that I like, and the styles that I do like typically aren’t made to fit my smaller frame. While I photoshoped the items of clothing to make them reasonably fit the model, I left the fits rough and a bit uncomfortable. Unless you’re someone who’s blessed with an incredibly average body type (and also wear clothes that match your assigned gender,) finding clothes that actually fit well without paying for custom tailoring is very, very rare.
Overall, I think this project was successful. The players who have tried it out so far find the process of peering through the advertisements appropriately frustrating, but still enjoy the process of assembling outfits for the model.
I would love to try tackling this project again with more time (and materials.) One of my major frustrations with this project was my inability to find fashion advertisements in time to include them in the collage. While the makeup and beauty advertisements work okay, I believe the piece would be more cohesive if both the inside and the outside focused more on fashion and clothing.