So today's game is part of a shorter series on games where I just want to take a minute to discuss dev projects on a smaller scale, either because its straight to the point and doesn't call for much discussion or simply doesn't have a whole lot there to talk about, yet.
Like early access projects, demos or in this case a concept game.
Today's game is from Tweed Couch Games, a collaborative studio between Jessica Rose and Allison Cole in 2014 with the intent to create games with, "careful treatment of subjects intended to provoke meaningful conversations, particularly in regards to intersectional issues such as gender, sexuality and discrimination." And in particular talking about their flagship game published with the founding of their studio, InTune.
InTune is a weird kind of game in that it is barely a game at all, at least in the sense we might normally think of a game. While I do make a point to talk about a different kind of games here, they usually follow the path of goal, achieve, fun, repeat if in their own obtuse way. But InTune is purely a game of consent and the be all end all is its objective to explore how consent is perceived between two people using the Playstation movement wands to mimic poses displayed on the screen.
The mechanics are simple and straightforward; replicate the poses, hold, repeat. As far as I can tell there's no point system or tracking of statics built into the game so it makes itself clear as more a interactive experience between sets of people. And if all the game is meant for as a catalyst for the experiment to occur thats perfectly fine, but it does make me start asking some questions.
In the trailer for the game, we see people smiling, having fun as they navigate posses that range from nonsensical to sexual with the implied intent to push on said boundaries of consent and comfort and have people discover what those boundaries for themselves and their partner are. And when it comes to a impetus for people to have fun and joke around with their friends, the game succeeds admirably, as evidence in above trailer.
Yet, and this is coupled with what I observed in person at IndieCade East, the actual objective of exploring consent I feel quickly gets lost when friends or couples are more focused on goofing around or having a good time, entertaining themselves.
And with no mechanic built into the game to keep people on track with that mindset since almost everything beyond the posing diagrams exist outside the game with attendants it relies far too much on outside people constantly supervising the players with what questions they should be asking and what they should even be doing within regards to the "game."
Intune is a great idea; the mindset of exploring consent as a concept is a great concept and the desire to use game mechanics to turn it into a fun game is admirable and a fasntaic battle plan. But the project as now will be relegated as a memorable moment to people exploring a conference or attending a convention without much actual thought into consent or if their idea of consent has actually changed.
Its too shallow with their approach with an almost minimal amount of gameplay used making the game heavily reliant on supervision and outside chaperoning for the game to even progress. Which in turn muddies up the process of actively exploring actual boundaries in consent
As a fun party game, it flows smoothly and could easily be reconfigured as some party game title for Playstation Arcade to get a use out of those motion wands Playstation loves. But as a method to effectively explore consent and more importantly explore your own boundaries and your partners and how to effectively communicate between each other, its not there. Its confused how it even wants to communicate its own ideas much less how to effectively allow players to do so. InTune has a noble intention for trying to broach a very awkward and very socially influenced issue but this is a topic with a nonsensical amount of nuance and this game hopes it can deal with such a complicated issue simply by telling players to ask their fiends if their okay with them playing awkward twister.
Definitely check the game yourself because I always want your own decision to be the decider, not my dumb words on my dumb site, but especially in this case to see what I mean and hear your thoughts on either side of agreeing/disagreeing. And I wish only the best to the studio, I would love to see the other games they have in persona in this idea get explore more thoroughly in the future.
This was longer than short, so sorry, but usually the idea is for these to be snippets of games to sprinkle in between bigger articles.