Recently, my GWSS class discussed the difficulties individuals of lower socioeconomic status face on a daily basis, and their negative psychological implications. Afterward, to inspire a better understanding of the material, my professor encouraged the class to go to this link and accept the challenge: playspent.org. (Robin also made a post about this game earlier on in the quarter. I thought it would be interesting to extend said post by opening SPENT‘s gameplay up to discussion, and linking it to specific content we have discussed in class.)
Having played Cart Life for this course, I immediately drew many parallels between its messages and the ones conveyed in SPENT – juggling childcare and trying to obtain an income can lead to some very difficult decisions, getting money (when funds are sparse) must be prioritized over any sort of socializing activities, paying attention to even the smallest of purchases – like buying certain foods over others – becomes important to survival quickly, etc. However, I thought it was very interesting how these two games managed to express their concepts in pretty different ways.
If you decide to accept the challenge, I would be very curious to hear (well, I suppose read) your thoughts on the comparison. Which game do you, personally, think was more effective at demonstrating the realities of this demographic’s experiences, and why? Do you think it’s more beneficial to put characters and thus, faces, to the struggles, or for players to be treated as though they are part of the demographic in question? Did the expressive elements of SPENT compare to those of Cart Life, and somehow enhance your experience? How could a game like SPENT be more impactful – or do you think it already is? (Perhaps if it’s not, would adding attributes from Cart Life, like mundane and repetitive ergodic work, make it more so?) Thanks!