Description: A physical game experience centred around the completion of chores.
Released: January 2019
Platform: PC/Physical
Engine: Unity/Physical
Team Size: Three
Project Length: Two months
Responsibilities: Game design, code, UI design.
What is Adulting?

Adulting? is a physical game experience in which the player briefly steps into the shoes of a parent, tasked with completing three different chores in the midst of a set of chaotic deadlines, all whilst their child vies for their attention.

The game melds WarioWare-style minigames with a physical game-space and control inputs, and a real actor, straddling the line between game and interactive theatre piece. It forces players to examine what they prioritise, both inside and outside the game world.

Summary of Contributions

  • I was jointly responsible for the design of the game, from initial concept through to completion.
  • I designed and programmed the Tax Returns minigame, including writing forty unique tax questions never before seen on a tax return form.
  • I was also responsible for the development of the overarching game systems, knitting together the three minigames to run simultaneously on different monitors.
  • Installing and troubleshooting the hardware in the play-space.

On the left, the tax return minigame. On the right, the furnished playspace, minus actor.
The Play Experience

Adulting? is a single player game that requires the player to take on the role of a parent and homemaker represented through a series of mini-games within a one minute period. The player must navigate through a large (approx. 10m x 10m space) and keep on top of the three chores placed in the corners of the area. The chores include filling in a tax return form, hoovering and running a bath, and all have a unique but simple control input. In addition, the play-space includes a live actor, playing the role of a child, who requires the player’s attention for the entire 60-second playthrough. The game asks a lot of the player in a very short space of time.

The goal of this project was to create a physically demanding game, focusing on the experiential outcome of the player. It is designed to overwhelm the player. The child requires constant attention, but if the player ignores their chores a variety of different alarms ring out. The relatively large distance between the different minigames must also be managed.

By using a real actor to represent the child, we ensured that no playthrough is the same. The actor uses visual stimuli from around the room (pictures on the walls, and the toys in their play area) to craft different improvised stories that can then be melded around the responses of the player. A player who converses with the child will have a very different experience than someone who ignores the child. Whether you want to bond with your child or chase a high-score in the minigames, the choice is yours.

What's next for Adulting?

In two months we managed to build and playtest a fully-functioning prototype of a high-octane meaningful playable experience. Given more time, we believe we can make Adulting? even better.

Due to budgetary constraints, we couldn’t furnish the play-space as much as we’d have like. We wanted to further outline the magic circle that the player steps into by using a free-standing doorframe. We also wanted to demarcate the play-space with carpet.

Ultimately, we would love to showcase Adulting? to a wider audience at festivals or conferences. It is an entertaining game both to play and to watch others play, complete with a strong message, and we would like to share this with as many other people as possible.