Cruel 2B Kind

Group: Tony, Sedi, Natalia, Kevin

On the night before playing, each one of us recruited our close friends as participants to play in the CERAS building, a place where three members of us are very familiar with since we are from the GSE. On the next day, four players showed up to play the game, and it turned out that three of them were also part of the GSE community. The building was also full of other GSE students who were sitting in tables with the players included when the game started. For us, Cruel 2B Kind took place in a “closed-group” setting, in which most players are familiar and comfortable with interacting with each other daily. This configuration triggered a slightly different dynamic such that players began their attacks by engaging in long, ordinary greeting conversations, a move that initially had us confused as we thought they weren’t playing the game properly. As one of the players recalls, she aimed to approach each person in the building with extensive greetings so that she could sneak in the attack without appearing too awkward. Her move caught another player by surprise and awarded her the first kill.

What’s different was with the only stranger to the building. Unable to be a part of any group, he sat on a couch and eavesdropped on every other person’s dialogue. At the same time, the winning player was approach other individuals one at a time. In one conversation, she eventually brought out her attack by saying, “I really like your shoes.” Her attack, however, was not on a player, and the person took her words for real, replying back with a story about his shoes. Listing to the keywords, the final player knew the winner had compromised. In a decisive move, he went straight up to the winning player in conversation and said right away, “I like your shoes.” There was a sudden awkward moment for the non-player as he was realized he was part of the game, but this move makes the final player the eventual winner.

After the game ended, we brought the players together for a short debrief and asked for their opinions on the game. The first impression from the players was that the rules were a little complicated to follow despite the fact that we have already given them a trimmed down version after seeing the long original one. The next big feeling was the awkwardness when approaching other players. Within the GSE community, players knew each other well, and therefore they have to consider the consequences of randomly spreading kindness. What’s more, one player was a little concerned that her comments on the shoes left the non-player slightly embarrassed.

In terms of improvements, we thought that the game might have been more coherent with its purpose of spreading kindness if it were to take place in an open space with people moving around and involves players who are truly strangers. This way, there is less concern about the impacts of the game on real-life relationships. In addition, I’m also wondering about the possibility of modding the game so that multiple rounds could be fun to play in case the game ends too quickly. One adjustment we could make is adding randomly assigned “non-players” who are not affected by the attacks but are also aware that they are in the game.