Global Game Jam 2016: Burritos, Anime, and Deception

Remember when I made a really strange game for last year's Global Game Jam?

Well I just returned from GGJ 2016 with something even stranger: a game about a girl microwaving a burrito, that's played with a MIDI controller and a Microsoft Kinect. Allow me to present Burrito Kudasai.

In this game, an anime-style character gives the player a series of instructions à la Simon Says. At the end of the game the player is rewarded with a magical burrito. Horray!

The girl's requests range from turning knobs on a special MIDI keyboard to doing jumping jacks in front of the Kinect. We even got players to shout "I love burritos!" at the top of their lungs. It was a silly game, made even sillier by the character's extremely loud (and kawaii) Japanese voice. When was the last time a little girl told you to dance the robot in order to get a 7-11 microwave burrito?

Don't expect to see Burrito Kudasai released any time soon though. I've been keeping a secret from you: the game doesn't actually evaluate player input at all! All of the dialogue and responses are pre-scripted. The game was designed in a way to give the illusion of interactivity. Hell, the Kinect wasn't even plugged in!

Full disclosure: I didn't set out to make a game that was all smoke and mirrors. Our team was working on a system to judge player input but the deadline hit us faster than expected. When we realized Burrito Kudasai wasn't going to be done on time, we decided to fake it!

The project does raise some ethical questions: is it mean-spirited to make people play a game like this? Would they be upset if they found out nothing was really judging their dances? The issue is compounded by the fact that Burrito Kudasai won the award for "Most Innovative Game". I personally believe that if players had fun, it doesn't matter what was going on behind the curtain. It's like a magic trick.

Lastly, I want give special thanks to the amazing team I worked with: Ryan Sandvik, Pierce McBride, Annie Sae-Hoon, Robb Steele, and Paul Sim. We're all charlatans now.


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