The lights are on
Perfect Woman isn't a typical game. In fact, it's not what
you'd expect from a game leveraging the Kinect either. That's exactly why it
caught my attention, by meaningfully using the Kinect to weave in a narrative
about lifestyle and categorizing people. The Kinect can feel gimmicky, but here
developers are using it to make a statement about seeking "perfection" and it's
doing it in an engaging way.
Peter Lu and Lea Schönfelder created Perfect Woman while
working at the UCLA Game Lab together. The inspiration for the project came
from personality questionnaires in women's magazines that try to lump people
together in one generalized box or another. We've all seen these tests and
laughed; the quizzes often feature takeaways about careers, sex, and family,
aiming to classify what type of person you are. "But these cannot possibly
characterize the depth and complexity of a woman's life," states the Perfect
Woman website. That sums up the point of the game, and Lu and Schönfelder
approach it with plenty of humor and smart observations.
Perfect Woman starts with your birth, and then progresses
through different stages of life, where you must make important decisions about
your future. For instance, at age nine you can choose to go down the path of a
princess, a super-talented singer and performer, a street kid leading a gang,
or a child worker. Each decision has a different difficulty level, ranging from
easy to extreme. Once you make your selection, you use your body via the Kinect
to match the changing poses on the screen. If you pick easy, the posing is
minimal and gives you plenty of time to react. If you pick a hard or extreme difficulty,
you're put in strenuous situations where you must not only react quickly, but
you also have to contort your body. The better you can hold poses, the higher
your rating level at the end of each level, which determines how well you did
at that stage in your life.
Depending on if your score earns you the bad, mediocre, or
good tier, certain life choices become easier or more difficult. For instance,
if you pick to be a child worker, you'll have an easier time being a low-paid
cashier later in life. In a more ridiculous choice, you can choose to be, "the
girl everyone wants to sleep with." However, if you end up being bad at that,
you become afraid of love, so having a family life will be hard, but you can
have an easy life as a call girl. You can try to break away from your past, but
it won't be easy.
At the end of the six different life stages, your decisions
are summarized for you, showing how your choices, successes, and failures lead
to the outcomes. The goal is to reach age 85 and ultimately decide how you're
going to spend your last days. Would you rather be a demented but happy old
lady or a wise and experienced grandmother?
If you try to be too perfect along the way and take the hardest
challenges, you could end up dying before your time; constantly striving for
perfection takes its toll.
I enjoyed how the game wasn't afraid to be funny and parody
stereotypes. The branching decision tree makes it so every choice has a
consequence and opens up easier or harder paths between the four decisions at each
life stage. Choose to be a terrorist and it's going to be tough to re-integrate
into society, but it doesn't take that path completely off the table. You'll
just have to really master your poses and reflexes.
The different difficulties and choices send the message that
you can't be perfect at all six stages of life, and not every choice you make
in life is going to be what you want. More so, sometimes you'll take the risk
on a hard life choice and fail. It doesn't doom your life; it just increases
the challenge of certain life paths. But I enjoyed this commentary on life. Going
the easy route might not be at the top of your life goals, but it might pay off
later in life to do other, more meaningful things.
The game takes roughly 10 minutes to complete, but the branching
paths make you want to see where different choices lead and if better skills
can change your outcomes. I've already played through it four times because
it's kept me curious, and I'm left still intrigued.
No release date is set, but the game is currently in
development for Xbox One. A PC/Mac version has already been shown at various
You can check out more about the game at its official site.
Email the author Kimberley Wallace, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
Apparently "perfect death" is scaring the crap out of two young children
This looks absolutely fascinating. I am very intrigued.
After joining the work force and suffering the stress of managing home and the work force 85 years old is now a pipe dream, sorry.
Man, I would love to play this. Sounds really unique.