Perspective – Black Simulator

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Choose the right clothes.

Don’t make eye contact.

Seriously, don’t make eye contact! It freaks folks out.

All you’ve got to do is run a couple of errands.

You can do this, right?

My first time playing developer Justin Fox’s Black Simulator, I got distracted by the TV in the in-game living room. The option to play “dat Tekken” made me curious. So I chose the option to play… which ended up taking the rest of my day. Game Over.

My second run through the game, I decided to go take some bread to my grandma. In the process, I made some white people mad by looking in their direction (which is a no-no, apparently). I then got mugged right outside my grandma’s house, which left me in my underwear. Grandma wouldn’t talk to me until I put some clothes on. So, I made the decision to run back to my house and get some clothes. Somewhere along that route, the game glitched–I became invisible!–and I had to restart.

What am I playing?

A few weeks ago, Justin Fox (whom I’ve interviewed before) contacted me about writing on Black Simulator. He gave me a code and asked for my perspective. The word perspective is key in discussing Black Simulator. As the perspective in the game, though viewed through the lens of satire, is radically different than my own day-to-day perspective as a white male.

The Steam description for Black Simulator reads:

A SATIRICAL MINI GAME where you spend the day as a black man (er “Blackmenn” if you prefer) on your day off. You must run 3 errands without getting shot or arrested by the Police! Depending on various choices your experience will differ either slightly or drastically with multiple playthroughs.

Avoid the dangers of the PoPo Meter – Police suspicions increases with certain choices of attire, and behavior!

I.G.N.A.N.T Meter, the rage is REAL – Attempt to avoid responses to rude people that may lead to someone calling the cops on you!

T.O.M Meter – Attempt to maintain street cred even though it can be SERIOUSLY unhealthy to do so!

Multiple ways to end your day off! With peace, or bullets.

Blackness awaits!

Survive a day, in the life of a black man, without getting shot or arrested by the police. Sounds easy, right? After my initial experience with the game, I’m not so sure when an errand to grandma’s house ends with me getting jumped.

Am I allowed to say that this game leaves me puzzled? That the overall experience feels foreign?

Maybe that is the point?

I need to play more.

You can find Black Simulator here, for $3, on Steam.

Repost: Points

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Achievements. Trophies. Icing on a video gamer’s cake.

The virtual playgrounds of Xbox LIVE and Playstation Network (PSN) each feature what basically amount to mini-games, the achievement/ trophy grind. In a battle that has no meaning, players try and see who can out achieve and out trophy their fellow gamer. Street cred in its digital essence.

I was recently playing through Uncharted, when I noticed I was receiving trophies for “50 headshots” and “100 kills with a pistol”. While I knew that these trophies really didn’t mean much, they kind of did. The more I played the more I noticed how much I liked receiving these in-game accomplishments. It was as if someone had come and patted me on the back, every once in awhile, for completing some soulless task.

Many of us work thankless jobs; jobs where negativity thrives in the absence of praise. These small, pointless, meaningless achievements and trophies are a breath of fresh air after a hard day of work. Even though I know that they mean nothing, ultimately they do. In the rush of everyday life, the rewards systems employed by these online networks reinforce that feeling that your actually achieving something for the time your investing.

One has to openly wonder though if all this icing is somehow fattening our egos. Will we come to expect being praised for doing something as simple as getting dressed? I wonder…

(Somewhat related: In marriage, the points don’t come as easily… Check out the video below!)