Label Maker is a short Twine game about the labels we put on people and how they affect our perceptions, and the people around us. It was made for the 2014 MIT Game Lab QUILTBAG game jam in 12 hours.
This was our first shorter-than-48-hours game jam, and we definitely felt the time-squeeze this time! That said, we love the idea of QUILTBAG and we were very pleased to participate (albeit remotely).
The initial idea, which had to be scaled down quite a bit, was to explore the power of labels through cause-and-effect gameplay. The core mechanic is simple: any time someone used a label, you could change it, lock it in and see how people react. Use one label for one person in one scene and a different label for the same person in a different one and the game would try to reconcile both labels. Think of it like a social justice version of "yes, and" that you can play with your web browser!
Obviously though, that vision was never going to hold up during a game jam timeframe, but we still wanted to examine both the power, meaning and connotations of specific labels as well as the socio-cultural role of labels in general. We set the whole thing during a party and chose to focus on the impact labels have on one person, with secondary focus on how varied the response can be to any one particular label, which fit well with the group setting of a party.
Thanks to the awesome Todd Harper and Samantha Allen for this QUILTBAG 2014!
Lucas J.W. Johnson
Andrew Grant Wilson