Last week, Difference Engine participant Hannah Epstein and her unique Youtube-based game The Immoral Ms. Conduct were showcased at the UCLA Game Arts Festival in California, a two-day festival celebrating experimental games from around the world. Rubbing shoulders with the 9-year-old DIY wunderkind Caine Monroy of the viral video hit Caine’s Arcade, and a bevy of innovative new media artists, both emerging and established, Hannah’s Ms. Conduct was met with rapturous enthusiasm festival attendees, even receiving notices from publications like the LA Weekly.
Though designed to be a single player experience, whereby a player clicks through a series of narrative branches via YouTube’s on-screen annotations, Hannah took advantage of demonstrating the game on a projected screen to a live audience by encouraging a shouting match to “democratically” determine which narrative threads to pursue in the game. Reflecting on the experience to the gang back at TIFF Nexus, Hannah wrote that: “People seemed to really get into it and the whole thing reminded me of pantomime theatre a bit…as the decision making was a loud production, so was the response, a lot of gasping at the unexpected results.”
Her invocation of pantomime theatre is especially apt considering that when the browser being used to demo the game spontaneously disconnected from the Internet, the evening’s emcee, David Leonard, a North Hollywood video and augmented reality artist, leaped to the stage to perform a few of the YouTube segments along side Hannah, until the connection resumed.
The Difference Engine initiative may have concluded last December, but both the game-makers and their games that came out of the jam, continue to have an impact on the gaming community at large. Back in March, Difference Engine participant and co-coordinator Una Lee produced a neat infographic to illustrate the impact the Difference Engine jammers have had in the wake of the TIFF Nexus Women in Film, Games and New Media conference, and even today, with Ms. Conduct’s appearance at the Game Art Festival, more ripples are being felt. You go girls.
If you’re still in the dark about The Difference Engine, crack your fingers back and try out their games here!