Snake Oil Team Blog Post



The Joys of Life (Description)

     “The Joys of Life” is an immersive, innovative multiplayer board game for three to five players in a party setting to experience.  Together, players will progress through the four stages of life: Childhood, School Years, Adulthood, and Elderhood.  A cast of unique and varied character avatars that will shape the path to retirement are available to explore.  Combining the fun of “Cards Against Humanity” and the intricacies of role playing elements from “Talisman”, players will not only be playing a game, but creating a rich narrative.

Band together, or even against one another – players will pave their way towards the end of life, be it retirement or death.  Craft a lifelong profile filled with mishaps, disease, fortunes, and misfortunes as one accrues resources of Money, Social Network, Education, and Health.  Experience laughter and rage as each game is never the same – each draw of the card will inflict beneficial harm or harmful boons that craft a specialized story path for each player avatar.

“The Joys of Life” includes codes for a companion app for iOS and Android devices, helping to ease the player experience by organizing and tracking each and every resource on character sheets.


The Joys of Life (Team Rationale)

     The creative process for “The Joys of Life” is centered upon one core concept: to parody the intricate and constant ups and downs of real life.  From there, the idea was refined into being framed within the board game medium; and the two biggest inspirations for this development were discussions of the card game “Cards Against Humanity” as well as the board game “Talisman”. Therefore, this product needed to embody comedic unpredictability for fun, as well as be complex enough in its mechanics for the target audience of teenagers and adults.   Having worked with programs such as Twine or InkleWriter before, the creative team felt it was time to work with new tools – to explore and learn the potentials for a multiplayer board game’s ability to present unique narratives.  The implementation of multiple characters to represent the players allowed several starting points towards this goal, as well as giving the players the ability to craft their own stories.  By making this decision, the issue of the “interactive paradox” arose – the authorial intent of the creators of these specific character avatar profiles would clash with player intention as they received different events and happenstances through the drawing of cards (JHGDM, 291).  To resolve this, the structure of how the character profiles operated was changed to allow further freedom towards the player: sex, gender, and name are all malleable elements of the individual character sheets.  These decisions are also not purely cosmetic, as it greatly affects the player’s journey through the game – adding positive or negative modifiers to certain cards they would attain.  In effect, the great lengths at which this game offers player participation in story crafting places it within the definition of an “interactive narrative” (JHGDM, 293).  With each card drawn, and each tile space of the game board explored – the players experience their own branching paths, and in doing so create a hypertext narrative that parallels the metagame of accruing resources to win in the end.