We’re incredibly lucky here in Toronto to have such a vibrant game development community. One of the most interesting things to come out of that was an incubation session designed to get more females into the game-making field. We here at Toronto Thumbs have covered the Difference Engine before; but one game in particular stuck out because of its unconventional medium and subject matter.
The Immoral Ms. Conduct is a YouTube game; it follows in the vein of the classic “choose-your-own-adventure” style. The game follows your adventures in an all-female prison. In a quick chat, Hannah Epstein (the creator) informed us that one of the main goals was to create a dramatic juxtaposition of the bad-ass-woman-in-a-cage theme that runs a profit for dramatic film and pornographic film companies (to the shocking and intolerable behaviour of men in power who use it to physically abuse women). That being said, the game is not intended to be didactic; it is only presented as a way to view the world. Epstein stated that she was not trying to be someone who angrily accuses rap music and porno for being responsible for the poor treatment of women. She is more interested in curating materials that illustrate this shared idea we harbour and nurture in our collective consciousness. We should look at it and soberly consider what messages like this might mean – we should make fully conscious decisions about our participation with it.
What sticks out most about this game is the pastiche of original art, police reality shows, 70’s porno, hardcore hip hop beats and video game music remixes. Epstein creates a world so fully realized by combining other sources together that it stands on its own as a post-modern surrealist world. The use of YouTube as a platform is an interesting choice as well, because it allows for collaboration. Epstein encourages users to submit more content: “if there is something you see in my game that you don’t like, disagree with, have an alternative for,” she says “then you, as a user, possess the creative power to make your own level and I will connect it directly into the game.” If you feel inspired to create a conclusion, a new level or a branching story arc feel free to email Epstein your video submission here.
That’s the wonderful thing about the internet; Epstein agrees, saying “I really love and feel inspired by the YouTube platform because: one – it’s free; and two – it’s largely accessible. I am coming to YouTube with a game and I am not saying ‘buy this game! Play it and then buy the next one I come up with.’, I am saying, ‘hey, I made this game, you wanna play with me?’ – posing it as more of a stage where anyone can play my game and I eagerly wait to play theirs in turn.”