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Digital Context

Van Mol Marijke

This project is made by Marijke Van Mol. She did her bachelor in graphic design and her master project was made within the digital context. The work is a game and combines the things she learned in her bachelor and her master as she designed and coded it. This (https://rat-race.netlify.app/) is the link for the website where you can both play the game and read through my process. If you'd rather read a (short) description of the work and the meaning behind several choices I made, then you might want to read the text below!

Rat Race

Rat Race is a game that is both inspired by the concept Rat Race and my own research. My research was about stimuli and especially the negative ‘side-effects’ one would experience from having too little or too much. We live in a very busy and demanding world, where the amount of stimuli has quintupled and expectations have raised significantly. You are, after all, responsible for your own failures and successes. Except for the hustling, zero-to-hero culture, there’s another place where winning is highly valued. This is in the game-world. As an ex-rat racer irl, I thought it’d be fun to make a Rat Race game, where spoiler(!!) winning is literally impossible and you’re just another rat chasing cheese. But, as we all know, one cannot simply have enough cheese. This game was made using several programs and Phaser.js (an open source framework for Canvas and WebGL powered browser games). Almost every layer of this game is made with a different program. I wanted to go for several styles, and thus make the game less coherent and more confusing. The backgrounds and collages are done in Photoshop, the platforms in InDesign, the cheeses in Blender and the sound in Audition. The player is made in Aseprite, a program often used for pixel art. Visually, you switch between two types of levels. One is overstimulating and the other under-stimulating. Both irk the player and are to represent different aspects of the Rat Race. The sensory overloading level underlines the busy and stressfulness, whereas the boring one points at the endlessness and repetitiveness that leaves no space for relaxation. The game mechanics are made to be confusing or irritating, too. Game tropes often dictate several aspects of a game and thus players are used to certain mechanics working a certain way. To make this game a real hustle, I decide to do the exact opposite. Concepts like winning and losing don’t have a place in this game. The gameplay isn’t supposed to be enjoyable at all. Input keys, player speed and objects sizes randomly change. And fittingly, you as the player change, as well.