Author Archives: aishamalek

Doodle or Die is an online game that a friend of mine recently recommended to me. It describes itself as “Telephone”, a game many of us are familiar with from our elementary school days, but with illustrations. How the game works is you are assigned descriptions which you must doodle (using a variety of colors and brush sizes), as well as doodles, which you must write a description for. Your doodles and descriptions lead to “active chains”, which one can later view to see the progression of words and images. In this way, you can see where the descriptions you wrote and the doodles you drew ended up. The rules of the game are simple, you can only skip 3 proposed descriptions/images, which forces you to think creatively to keep the game going.

I found that what made this game fun was the hilarity of some of the interpretations of the doodles. Looking at the chains of doodles and the way that one idea could, several descriptions later, be turned into something completely different is what makes this game appealing. Also, it allows people to interact with people from around the world (I’m assuming).

I think the meaning that this game conveys is that each individual has a different way of interpreting a statement or visual. Doodle or Die definitely draws upon differences in perspectives to create this never-ending chain of images. By setting up interactions between users, Doodle or Die also creates a sort of network or community within the game.

More than anything, though, I feel that Doodle or Die serves as a creative outlet for a diverse audience. Some of the doodles are detailed, and some aren’t. And, of course, along with the option of being anonymous in the game comes the occasional vulgarity. Overall, Doodle or Die is a fun way to kill some time and to keep oneself entertained.

While browsing through, I found myself looking over the list of categories that the site files all games under. The categories include things like “action”, “strategy”, “puzzle”, and “funny”. What caught my eye, though, was the last of these categories–“girl”. Confused as to what gives a game a gender, I clicked ahead to see what the subsection had to offer. I was suddenly presented with a list of games that were just about all about fashion, horses, and/or kissing Justin Bieber. I decided to try out a game called The Boyfriend Trainer.

The Boyfriend Trainer has the player taking on the role of a girl who is attempting to use operant conditioning techniques to improve her boyfriend’s behavior. You play through a series of levels, each of which have a different behavior and setting for which your boyfriend must be reprimanded. The controls of the game are very simple, it involves just clicking the mouse on the boyfriend character whenever he does something wrong. Some examples include slapping him when he checks out other women (pictured below), Tasing him when he makes a mess, hitting him with a tennis racket for changing the channel on the TV, and choking him with a collar when he drives too fast. There is also a time limit on each of these levels, by which time the player is required to have “corrected” a sufficient number of missteps.

The narrative and gameplay of The Boyfriend Trainer blatantly suggest that relationships are a type of power struggle–the female character is trying to maintain her control and dominance over the male. When the player doesn’t score enough in the prescribed time period,  the game ends with an image showing the boyfriend leaving the girl, with the words “Escaped! You didn’t do it right.” (pictured below). Thus, the game conveys the message that a girl can’t keep a guy unless she controls his behavior.

I know that this game isn’t meant to be taken seriously, and that its designers’ intent was most likely to be humorous, but I honestly didn’t find it funny at all. In fact, it was ridiculously problematic in its portrayal of both men and women. I feel like it does encourage women to be maniacal in their obsession over their partner’s every action. Although women obviously aren’t going to start being abusive to the extent that the character in the game is, it could have an effect on people’s attitudes about relationships in general.

I might be taking this game too seriously, and in all honesty I’m hoping that it is meant to be satirical. Do you think that games like The Boyfriend Trainer can have any effect at all on their audience?

I decided to try out the side-scrolling browser game “Every Day the Same Dream” on The game takes on the topic of routine and the dismays of white-collar conformity.  You play as a faceless man in a world where virtually everything is a shade of gray, and use the left and right arrows to navigate through the rituals of the work day, using the space bar to react with the various people and things that you run into. You start off in your bed, where you must put on a suit, and your wife warns you that you’ll be late for work as you leave the house. You take an elevator to get to your car, in which an old lady informs you, “Five more steps and you will be a new person.” You continue through traffic to your office building, get scolded by your boss, and sit in your cubicle until the day ends, and you play again from the beginning.

Through some experimentation, I realized that the “five steps” that the old lady in the elevator is referring to are actions that break from the routine, which were quite challenging for me to discover. They include going to work without getting dressed, catching a leaf as it falls off of a tree, and walking to work instead of taking your car.

Once all five “steps” are taken, the game ends in the protagonist waking up to an empty house, driving to work on an empty road, and arriving at an empty office. You walk past the cubicles onto the roof, where you see yourself (well, I assumed that it was the protagonist, it may have been someone else since all of the office employees look identical) standing on a ledge. You then watch as your own self jumps off, and presumably dies. The game abruptly ends there.

The creators of this games are making a statement on the dangers of routine. They depict a man whose life is without color, and is constantly being yelled at by his boss and wife. He has consequently become voiceless–the main character doesn’t utter a word in the entirety of the game. This seems to be implying that routine and conformity cause a person to lose any say in what goes on in his or her life. As I was playing the game, I felt myself automatically navigating through each setting, and began to feel bored and frustrated with the repetition. In the end, what I believe the designers are saying is that one can only be saved from routine by breaking the rules and doing things that are not automatic and expected. However, the fact that the game ended in a suicide conveys a terribly hopeless meaning–I wonder if they’re implying that there really is no escape. All in all, this was a fun little game that I’d definitely recommend!

Oiche Mhaith, which translates to “Good Night” in Gaelic, is an RPG-style browser game from Increpare. Taking on the role of a blue-haired young girl named Eimear, the player navigates the protagonist through her home as she deals with a family that is dysfunctional, to say the least. The game begins with Eimear coming home from some unknown activity to be scolded by her mother, whose authoritarian parenting style becomes apparent as the dialogue progresses. Eimear then follows her mother into the house, whose setup appears eerily similar to the dungeons in several RPG games for the gameboy. At this point, it is apparent that this game will not be a joyful one.

The story of the game continues as Eimear’s mother sends the player off on a set of tasks, which include feeding her absent brother’s depressed dog, telling her masturbating father that dinner is ready, making her bed (after which she refers to the baby doll sitting next to the bed as a “filthy, slutty babby”), and setting the table. Eimear incorrectly sets the knives and thus upsets her mother, who calls her a disgrace warns her that her father will be very angered. A dinner scene follows and there is a slew of dialogue between the parents, laden with verbal abuse and threats to Eimear. The protagonist then goes to sleep, but not before repeating the hurtful words she heard from her mother and father and directing them towards her “Babby”.

Eimear wakes up to a series of loud noises, and as the player navigates her throughout the house, it is found that all the previously-occupied rooms are now vacant, with the exception of her father’s room. There, Eimear finds the lifeless and bloodied bodies of her mother and dog on the floor and her lifeless father sitting in a chair before them, holding a gun. At this point, the player loses control of Eimear, and the story progresses for a couple of minutes. To sum it up, Eimear transports their bodies from the graveyard back to their house and decides to try and give them their souls back with a computer program. At this point, the player has to use trial and error match up various symbols with each character to restore the correct soul to each person.

Inevitably, even after returning their souls to them, Eimear’s father repeats the murder-suicide. After this, Eimear is transported to a world of blackness and speaks with her dead father and mother, who apologize to her. The player then learns that Eimear’s brother had been dead, and he reunites with his parents. In the end, Eimear ends up alone.

Oiche Mhaith is a very emotionally-heavy game, and takes on a subject matter that I have never seen addressed within a video game before. It paints the picture of unhappy parents who take out their anger on their daughter. Playing the game made me feel uncomfortable, especially with the degree of the verbal abuse toward Eimear, who would project those same insults onto her doll. The family dynamics present in Oiche Mhaith convey the idea that children often take on the role of scapegoats, which is greatly damaging. In its depiction of a child’s attempt to undo a tragedy, I think that Oiche Mhaith makes claims about the resilience of childhood, but ultimately about the lack of control that a child has over their life.