A mobile game designed to promote empathy for people living with the condition of poverty. Players interact with a character's virtual phone and make decisions for them while managing limited resources and competing priorities.
DOWNLOAD BROKE: The Game
WHAT IS BROKE: The Game
BROKE is mobile game for iOS and Android and the digitized version of our client, Dana Gold's, board game, "The Poverty Spiral". "The Poverty Spiral" is a simulation of the challenging decisions people living with the condition of poverty have to make when faced with few resources and many competing priorities (e.g. relationships, jobs, available cash, etc.). The original game is designed for 4-6 players and the goal is to reach and maintain Financial Stability before you run out of cards and choices. Each choice has a financial impact which makes the player experience the stress of how making the “right” decision isn’t always the best choice to get you out of poverty.
We aimed to design a transformational game by keeping the same impact of "The Poverty Spiral" board game, but making it more accessible in the digital form. We chose to design our game as a single-player experience to bring out specific storylines and encourage players to more deeply connect with the characters of the game. The players are assigned a role and then given the virtual phone of their character (e.g. a homeless person, a new college grad, an illegal immigrant, and more). They are put into different situations where they interact and converse with NPCs to make tough decisions that impact their financial and social stability. The game is designed so that players will feel the frustration of living in poverty but also have an engaging, educational experience.
Team: Matthew Bofenkamp (Designer - Programmer), Mollie Braley (Lead Designer - Writer - External Producer), Yu-Kai Chiu (Programmer), Siyu "Tracy" Chen (Artist - UI/UX Designer), Nisha Kunhikrishnan (Internal Producer - Programmer), Yifei "Figo" Zhao (Lead Programmer)
Website: Our blog contains weekly posts from the production of the game (Authored by Matthew Bofenkamp)
Lead Game Designer: I developed the original design for our adaptation (a virtual phone experience where players interact with multiple apps while monitoring their financial and social capital) and created the main design system of our game: the cluster system, which allows for a simple but randomized narrative structure. I also created materials for, organized, and co-led weekly playtests for our target demographic. I collaborated with the other team members to ensure that each technical and artistic decision aligns with the goals of our game.
Writer: I wrote all the conversations and materials that players interact with throughout the game. This involved taking pre-made situations from the board game and turning them into interactive stories told through diverse and life-like non-playable characters, all while upholding our client's requirement to keep the material both gender- and race-neutral. Additionally, I was individually hired by the client after the game's completion to continue creating and adding playable content to the game.
External (Client) Producer: I was the point-of-contact for our client, Dana Gold, and responsible for organizing and leading our weekly client meetings. I pitched our new ideas to her and ensured, throughout the development and production process, that she was aware of the progress and decisions we made.
Interface Screens by Siyu Chen
AWARDS AND RECEPTION
I co-authored and submitted (with Nisha Kunhikrishnan) an Extended Abstract about BROKE: The Game to CHI PLAY's 2019 Student Game Design Competition that was selected for presentation in their upcoming Barcelona conference (Oct 2019).