Mobile Game Encourages Players To Hold Eye Contact With Strangers
Soulfill double dares you to engage with your environment.
Ever feel that those stares you see on the subway are a bit…soulless? Now you can fill them with the products of your consideration and imagination with Soulfill, an iOS app that encourages you to look up at others instead of using your phone to hide your gaze like everyone else. The game’s developer, Jason Marziani of app company Little Wins, hails from South Philadelphia, and he specifically set out to produce a game that encouraged contact with strangers. Created for the 48-hour Global Game Jam this year, the game takes this idea into consideration in every possible way, even using a voiceover interface with simple touch gestures so that you can focus your energy on your heroic, if not socially awkward, mission.
The game barely has any visuals and weighs in at less than a megabyte, and the result of this commitment to minimalism is a bit creepy in its sparsity. The narrator of the game is a Siri-like computer voice that lays out the situation for you. You’re on a mission to record ‘Encounters’ – the eye contact that the game prizes – before a mysterious, and dangerous, enemy appears. A bit alarmingly (or perhaps satirically, depending on your point of view), you’re described as being of a different “kind” than your fellow passengers. “They walk with such empty souls. There is no warmth down here,” says the monotone narrator. “The night is dark and nears, and this night may be the darkest of them all.” Meanwhile, you have warmth that “brings vigor to the body, laughter to the lips, and passion to the heart.”
To Reveal, apparently, is to look at someone who is already making eye contact with you; those who cause you to Reveal, in the logic of the game, are the enemy masquerading as the public. The narrator, in the beginning, is afraid that this has been your fate: “Come in. Are you there? We thought we lost you. We thought you Revealed,” she says. Meanwhile, if a subject avoids eye contact with you when you look away from them, the game calls it a Break. All of these interactions are logged through simple tap and swipe gestures, turning this immersive fantasy into an addictive one.
The question is: how long can you keep up this fantasy? What would you say to your fellow passengers should your eye contact lead to a conversation? It’s like playing some kind of double-dare game with a friend, except the friend isn’t present. Above all, where is this sci-fi storyline going? You’ll have to play to find out.