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Deadlines and Flatlines

This is a single player game, in which the player is only able to guide the Pac-man inspired avatar across the gaming field in the four cardinal directions using a keyboard. The player begins the game with a blank calendar page as the matrix for game play. Initially the calendar is empty, there are no deadlines occupying any dates and a heart rate monitor at the bottom right of the screen is stable and beeping regularly. As the game begins, clock icons representing time commitments slowly fall from the top of the screen. Once these icons enter the field, the corresponding “deadline” date on the calendar flashes a green color, intensifying and transitioning to red as the icon approaches. If a commitment icon reaches its deadline, that area is filled and becomes an obstacle to other descending icons as well as the player. The player must navigate the field efficiently and avoid missed deadline obstacles to meet the commitments before they become obstacles themselves. All the while, the rate and number of commitments is increasing, as well as the “pulse” of the player on the heart rate monitor. This increased franticness corresponds to the amount of missed deadlines on the playing field. If the calendar field fills with commitments, the heart rate monitor rapidly increases intensity into a flatline, and it is game over.


“Deadlines and Flatlines” is mechanically simple in its game play process, but communicates an important message about the navigating the modern culture of multi-tasking and the toll it takes on your health and sanity. The title of the game foreshadows what the player is likely to experience during gameplay, which involves juggling an over-booked calendar of deadlines in order to “succeed”; failure to do so results in a flatline and the game is over.
There is no winning in this game, it is infinite gameplay as long as the player can multi-task and keep on top of their commitments. However, the player can, and most likely will, lose if their calendar becomes overwhelmed. This is meant to represent the almost necessity of frantic multi-tasking in today’s society in order to keep up with a dynamic and almost impossible to achieve definition of “success”. The player must make decisions on which routes will most efficiently allow them to reach the commitments, as well as simultaneously decide which commitments are more urgent. While playing the game, the player hopefully will become frustrated with the mobility limitations of their avatar, the increasing commitments, frenzied background noise of a beeping heart rate monitor, and the lack of visible incentives or rewards for staving off deadlines and flatlines. This frustration is meant to make the player evaluate the effects and consequences that over-extending oneself to strive for perfection on an unrealistic agenda is stressful, and detrimental to your health in the short and long-term. sking abilities to process the many stimuli they are encountering. The process of game play is meant to encourage the player to connect the stressful stimuli of the game to stimuli in their own schedules, and reflect critically on how the consequences of losing the game correlate to the real life consequences of missed deadlines. “Deadlines and Flatlines” is a gaming process to encourage players to re-evaluate their priorities and limitations, and hopefully prevent undue stress from impossible standards and deadlines in the future.


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