Equality is a digital platformer that uses mechanics as metaphor to deliver a message to the player.
Equality is a game that was developed in approximately four weeks. Utilizing platformer mechanics of jumping and collecting coins, Equality is meant to be a metaphor for the difference in pay between men and women.
The game went through many iterations before finding the right metaphor and mechanic combination. The current combination was decided upon because it not only felt like the best combination, but it also playtested the best. Early playtests showed that players were able to understand the metaphor fairly easily and within the first level.
By the end of the development time, I realized that I needed a bigger reveal at the end of the game for any player who was not able to find the metaphor on his/her own. What I have now is still somewhat cryptic, forcing players to find the meaning for themselves.
I hope to revisit this project in the future and readdress the reveal at the end of the game as well as some of the level design.
Equality was, in a lot of ways, exactly what I wanted it to be. At the same time, it wasn't anything like what I wanted. I had wanted to create an experience that would make players think deeply about a topic that is important not only to me, but to a large number of people, especially women. This project needed a lot more time than I was able to give to it. Still, I hope to revisit it again someday to make it everything I want it to be and everything it deserves to be.
The ending of the game is extremely weak. It does not give a solid, defining message to the player. Instead, it gives a cryptic message that could be missed by anyone who chooses not to dig very deeply into the game. A simple statement, using text, would have given the ending a boost, bringing it far from its current state of weakness. However, I had been so determined to convey the message without stating it outright, that I ignored this as a possibility, refusing to use it. Now, when I look back, I can see that it would have been an okay option given the time constraints and necessity for a better ending.
This project taught me a lot about using Mechanic as Metaphor. I quickly found just how difficult it can be to find the right combination of the two. After a couple of weeks, I had found my gem: pay differences and platformer. These combined well since platformers typically use the coin collection mechanic which lends itself extremely well to getting paid.
Originally, this project was going to be an expansion and refinement of HomeMaker, a previous project in the RPG category. I decided to change my mind based off of the scope of the project. This was definitely a choice I made for the better-- not only did I choose to work on a game with a smaller scope, but I also chose to make a game that I was a lot more passionate about because the topic really meant something to me. By choosing to work on something that meant something, it made me want to work on the project as much as I possibly could, spending all of my extra time working on Equality. This was an important discovery for me. I had found that what I really wanted to work on was narrative pieces that have a message related to the real world.
I hope to continue to work on Equality in the future. There is still a lot that can be refined and made better. For instance, the levels. The difficulty of the levels is inconsistent, jumping from semi-difficult to very difficult. The interest curve should be applied to the levels in a better way, as well, as it hardly exists in some places. Of course, as mentioned previously, the ending still needs work.
In addition, with the collection of coins comes the expectation of using them. In the current build, coins are used to purchase upgrades, but the upgrades are almost worthless to the player. These upgrades could easily be integrated into gameplay, but were neglected for most of the development time.