The Staring at Computers Acting Class

By Caroline Record and Jing Xiao

The Staring at Computers Acting Class is a performative two way game. It is intended to both be played and be watched being played in equal parts. The player of the game attempts to do well in the “acting class” by matching short facial expressions that they are prompted with. The game uses facial detection to score them based on how well they match each expression. By moving their face and by allowing the light from the computer to reflect off their face, the player is performing in a larger story that only the audience can hear, but they cannot. The audience member hears a short passage from Phillip Lopate’s essay Films as Spiritual Life as the player’s face is illuminated and contorted in sync with the story.



I have to catch a flight tonight so I won’t be in class… but here are my top picks!

The bizarreness of some of the games on was amazing. These are a couple that can be played in the browser. I like the frivolousness and scrappy-ness of the art and the unexplained weirdness of these games.

Swaacl’s Monument

As far as I can tell, there is no objective. You can either move to the right or move to the left via arrow keys. Along the way, you may bob your head up or down to pick up sticks or scribbles or blobs attached to trees. After picking something up, the object floats up into the air and just hovers there for the rest of your journey, and a blob-like part of your body either detaches or grows or shrinks or something. Finally, you reach a creepy, scribbled shrine-like obstruction. You may move no further.

P.S. check out the URL hehe

Kuru-kuru! Kuru!

2-player game (one person uses w-a-s-d, other person uses arrow keys). You have these long slinky rubbery arms that you can navigate across this room full of sushi conveyer belts. The goal is to gather as many sushi plates as possible and bring them to your mouth for feeding. Whoever consumes the most sushi is the winner!

Make a poster of shadows. – Jing

Assignment #6
Make a poster of shadows.

You may take pictures of the shadows or simply trace them. These solid shapes should then be drawn on paper and colored in with a single color. You are not interested in anything but the shadow itself, and you are most interested in shadows that don’t look anything like the objects that created them; abstract shapes.. Choose either brown, pink, light green, orange or white. Use only one of these colors. If you would prefer you may cut out the shapes from colored paper. The shadows should appear on the page in a grid formation, in rows. Treat this like a index of shadows rather than a work of abstract art. The finished report should include 10-20 shadows and should be pasted on (or drawn on) white paper of any size (even if, especially if, the color you chose for your shadows was white.) Do not label this poster in any way, except to write your name and the date on the back. My god these are going to be beautiful.


Jing – Best Games Fest

3 to 10 Nashville:

Everyone is first handed a game map with an area traced out to represent “Nashville” (Community Lawn vicinity) and a random face card to identify which team they’re on. Those given a red card are the law, and those given a black card are the outlaws. Amongst each team, one person is designated as the team leader – either the bandit for the outlaws, or the sheriff for the law.

Everyone is then given 6 cards of their team’s color (ranging from values of 3 to 10) to be used in the game. The idea is that the members of the two teams duel each other with these cards in a series of individual 1 on 1 shootouts that allow them to accumulate cards for their leaders to use in a final shootout. A normal shootout works like this:

Both people choose a card from their hand to use in the shootout. No matter the outcome, both of these cards are “spent” and immediately ripped up (think of the cards as bullets that aren’t reusable). Whoever had the higher card is the winner and gets to choose a card at random from the other player’s hand to be kept and saved for their leader. If the shootout ends in a tie, the cards just get ripped up and no one gets to draw a card.

Players can prowl freely in the area marked on the map. Upon encountering someone from the opposing team, a shootout may happen. One person first asks, “Are you from Nashville?” to which the other replies, “Them’s fighting words!” and then the shootout commences. No two people can duel against each other more than once. After 30 minutes of walking around and dueling, everyone reconvenes in the lawn. In the final shootout, each leader gets to use all (or maybe it was just X number) of the cards that their team won for them. Each winning shot earns that leader a point. Players’ unused cards can be used to help deflect the opposing leader’s shots. The leader with the most points at the end of the shootout wins the game for their team.

It was a pretty long game without a lot of action happening for most of it. My team split up into smaller groups and just wandered around separately. Besides the few shootouts, I found that we spent most of the time just walking and talking about our personal lives. Also, since we were only given 6 cards, we could duel at most only 6 times, and that’s only if we kept winning. Supposing that each shootout takes less than a minute, that leaves about 24 minutes of downtime.

At one point, we saw a bunch of tough looking guys. Someone in my small walking group instinctively yelled out, “Are you from Nashville?!” They gave us a quizzical look. Some people got very into character. I think the flavor and roleplaying aspect definitely made the game. The best strategy seemed to be to play your highest card(s) first to prevent others from stealing your good cards. And once we were left with only crappy cards, a bunch of us suicided by dueling with the other team and forcing them to sacrifice their cards in the duel. Was that the right strategy? Or should we have saved our crappy cards for protecting our leader? Not sure, but there wasn’t much to do, so I just used them in the shootouts anyway.

You Win:

Each person takes a card. How to Play from the card:

Subtly try to achieve the goal on the back of this card. If you achieve your goal, YOU WIN. Celebrate by firing your party popper(s) and shouting “I WIN!” If you tell someone your goal, try too hard to win, or someone catches you trying to win, YOU LOSE. Get another card and try again.

It was a very background-level game. I didn’t stay for long after getting this card, but I can imagine someone just shoving this card in their back pocket and playing it for the duration of the night. I don’t know what other tasks there were, but mine said:

 YOU WIN IF… someone takes off an article of clothing. It is worth 2 Party Poppers.

I’m guessing that all of them were things that could be potentially awkward if done un-subtly. Since your targets can be non-players and there’s no strict structure to the game/whom you can interact with, there doesn’t seem to be much motivation to win – it’s just you against your tiny square card. It’s an interesting idea for a game though. Everyone in your proximity immediately becomes a player in some sense without even being aware of it.

Kpop Boys – Allen, Ralph, Jing

Flavor change

In korea where 3 kpop managers try to accumulate korean singer boys:

3 kpop boy band managers start with 5 korean singer boys + 3 jobless korean boys in the karaoke bars (center of the table)

Each turn managers take a decision in Rock Paper Scissors style. Managers can choose to record a pop ballad (fist) or to record an upbeat pop hit (open hand).

There are 4 possible outcomes:

A Sleeper Hit – one player chooses to record a pop ballad: this manager recruits 1 fame-thirsty korean singer boy from each other manager.

A Brand New Viral Dance – two managers choose to record an upbeat pop hit: these managers both let go of 1 korean singer boy to the third manager to turn into stars.

Pop Downer – three managers choose to record a pop ballad: all managers lay off 1 newly unemployed korean boy who then go back to the karaoke bars

Pop Renaissance – three managers choose to record an upbeat pop hit:  the manager with most korean singer boys proposes once, without discussion nor back room deals, how to divide the karaoke bar boys. If at least one manager agrees, the decision becomes effective. Otherwise, nobody takes anyone.

The game ends when the first manager is out of korean boys and disbands the manager with the most korean singer boys wins.

Subversive Play – Lego






Lego has been a staple of almost everybody’s childhood. The popular toy bricks are founded upon the idea that anything that can be created and assembled can and should be taken apart again to be reinvented as something different and new. With a few simple building blocks and a lot of imagination, anything is possible! Lego has several defining qualities that make it the ubiquitous and beloved toy it is today: it encourages creativity, promotes hands on learning, and inspires curiosity and a desire to solve problems. It is also perhaps the single most reusable toy in the world. A+ investment for parents.

Lego sets usually come with an instruction manual of some sort with simple Ikea-like diagrammatic directions. My set (Lego 31010 – Treehouse) came with 3 booklets. While the pieces are specifically tailored to the construction of these featured structures, at the end of the day, they are only a suggestion. The point of having a pile of diversely colored and shaped pieces is to tinker with them and to discover for yourself what kinds of cool models you can build, and build, and build…

My subversive play mission was pretty simple: to use lego bricks in all the wrong ways. I wanted to make my lego set as un-reusable and as permanent as possible. I wanted to stifle this spirit of re-creation (as well as recreation). My materials: Legos, Krazy glue, hands, and no plan in mind (also a little bit of acetone and some q-tips). I super glued everything that could be glued in every direction and at every angle I could think of, shoved pieces into other pieces that weren’t supposed to fit together, flipped things sideways and upside down, and even incorporated a cut out section of a Ziploc bag just because I could (I felt like I was breaking a sacred unspoken rule by introducing non-lego or non-lego prescribed materials into my model… I also broke the no gluing legos rule, the other sacred though frequently vocalized rule*). I created my own rules: once glued and secured, no more changing allowed / have no mental visualization of an end product – just stick random stuff together and go with the flow / no attaching things that look like they’re supposed to go together.

Misplaying legos is actually harder than it appears. Nothing just fits anymore. Attaching objects is a pain. Everything sucks. Gluing pieces together at wonky, messy angles and then ripping apart the crappily glued parts and seeing the residual damage… it hurts your soul. I kept questioning what I was doing and why I was purposely making haphazard arrangements out of perfect, synergistically designed pieces. At many points, I found myself desperately clicking bricks together the way they were meant to fit together, but then immediately berating myself for “cheating” (for following the rules).

By building something out of legos in this way, I didn’t get to experience the parts of playing with legos that make it fun. I had no clear goal to achieve, besides making something, anything. There was no problem to solve. I was just doing things at random. There was no structure to my building. I couldn’t try again – once I had glued something, I had to live with it. All in all, it was not a satisfying experience. I also wince at the fact that I spent $29.99 on a set that I will never get to rebuild. 0/10 would not recommend.

*Some impassioned comments I saw from googling variations of “how to glue legos”…