Body Games

Games have space. This is one of the core components of game design, and something that every designer must consider. What is the space of your game? What are the rules? What are the challenges? How do they interact to form a system that is compelling? Space is one of the more ambiguous categories, as it can take the form of almost anything. A space can be the actual code of the game, it can be physical place in the world, it can be a mindset, or a virtual environment. Space can also be one’s own body, as Porpentine examines in their game With Those We Love Alive.

The game begins by asking the player to have a pen or marker on hand while playing, and regularly throughout gameplay will ask the player to write sigils on their body. What the sigils are specifically is irrelevant. It is up to the player to give that meaning to themselves. However, at the end of play, it creates a roadmap, physically, of the choices that the player has made throughout the game, and gives an idea as to what she may find important. Each player will have something  different on her body. The placement, size, shape, intricacy of the designs are telling, and provide something of a lasting impression even days after the game has ended. It also gives the choices that the player makes a sense of urgency, of weight. One is physically altering their body depending on what they do, rather than simply changing something on a screen

Few digital games exist that make demands and use the players body as a canvas and space, and when I find one I always treasure them. These are my favorite types of games, those that make me think about why I am doing what I am, and how it could effect me. Porpentine, through their use of drawing on skin, achieves this beautifully and simply in a way seldom seen.

2 thoughts on “Body Games

  1. Really interesting post about games and embodiment. That you use your body to play this game makes me think about the body as a platform. Professor described platform as the intersection of hardware and software–I think the introduction of the body in Those We Love Alive links the hardware to the software and, acting like a bridge, connects the two. The body transforms the gameplay experience into something uniquely personal and intimate. Since the body here literally shapes the gameplay and since the game depends on the body, I’d consider the body to be a platform here. I vaguely remember Professor mentioning in class that bodies can be platform since we’re interacting with games when we play them, but this case seems to be a bit different. The body is a part of the game itself and I wonder what that means in terms of hardware, software, and platform.


  2. This post made me think more about the inherent subjectivity of games, and the unique experiences each person might have with them. This was especially true with your last paragraph, where a game that incorporates your body becomes something beautiful that you treasure, which I’m guessing effects your perspective on the game and its possible messages. That is one place where subjectivity really shows through, because other players may dislike incorporating their bodies to be part of the game, for whatever reason, and this would cause them to view a game through an entirely different filter than you would.


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