Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Overweight Gaming (The Sisko Dilemma)

I’m having a design quandary about characters who become overweight in Kudos 2. I need to really nail down the game play effects of letting your character become jabba-sized.

There are some effects already, in that a few acting jobs require you to be below a certain weight. I could probably extend that to the police jobs, but beyond that does it really matter? The obvious negative side to being overweight is the health effects, but to be honest most of the activities that increase weight are reducing health, and health is directly used in calculating illness. What I may do, is have a locally used (not shown to the player) calculation for obesity, and use that as an extra accelerator in determining illness. Then you have the age old problem of conveying this data to the player. kudos 1 did lots of clever stuff the player was never told about, and I need to be more aware of that this time around.

The other possible uses in game terms for ‘weight’ are all a bit ‘dodgy’. Should being overweight reduce confdence? Should I reduce your chances of getting a job in general if you are overweight? I might not mind how big people are, but is there a real world prejudice there? and if there is, is it ok to represent it in game? I currently don’t have black avatars (another worrying, but budget-related situation), but if I did, should I give them less chance of a good job to reflect society’s racism? For that matter, should I reduce your chance of romance if you weigh too much? Is that just reflecting society as it is, or is that encouraging prejudice?

I guess I’m half way between Ben Sisko and Kassidy Yates on the whole ‘We shouldn’t pretend the world is better than is’ (Ben) and ‘Lets just enjoy the way it should be’ (Cassidy). I’m glad I’m not programming a holodeck.

What do you think?

4 thoughts on Overweight Gaming (The Sisko Dilemma)

  1. I would avoid the whole racism thing altogether because you will never be right no matter what you program in. Split the weight issue away from the social side and bring it to the personal side. Use it as a modifier to reduce health and fitness each turn with regard to how overweight your avatar is. Highly overweight avatars could also receive less benefit from fitness activities. Honestly, i only see the weight stat as a negative influence on the avatar. I can’t really see the point in wanting to increase weight unless your planning on programming in a sumo challenge.

  2. First I’d like to start of by asking, can you be too skinny?

    The main problems weight has besides illness is that being overweight tends towards tiredness. Tasks wear you out more, the more physical the task the quicker. If you’ve ever seen a large person run for the bus you know what I mean. ;) That’s the biggest impact besides long term health problems of being overweight. There’s also the social side, it’s not socially acceptible to be overweight, but that’s hard to measure. If you wanted to go to the extreme, you could stop people from doing particular activities while overweight. No sport, no riding/skatboarding to work, no working out on the tougher exercise machines. They could just require a minimum level to be able to use.

    As an aside though, there are quite a few people who would have a high “weight” but are fit, a person like Arnold Swartzenegger as a famous person comes to mind. What would be more appropriate would be a “fitness” category which would increase as you work out and decrease as you eat takeaway. Unfortunately then you might have Illness, Health and Fitness as different categories, introducing more complexity.

  3. actually I do have fitness and health too. I figure fitness is like athletic ability, whereas health is eating properly etc, and weight is separate. So a sumo wrestler could be overweight but fit and healthy I suppose. :D

  4. One thing I thought while playing the 1st is that there should be consequences 4 being too thin, going jogging too much, working out too much etc. A friend of mine suffered anorexia which involved being at the gym 4 hours at a time and as a result has been left disabled due to the excessive strain on her bones esp in her legs.
    I thought it was fantastic that you’re game was realistic enough to include jobs that wouldn’t take u above a certain weight but felt it should work the other way too

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