Elephant in the Relationship is a tabletop game for 2 to 4 players in which players try to communicate deeply troubling relationship issues. Players take on the roles of two people in a personal relationship and what begins as the drama of a potentially risky (or intimate) interaction turns into a spectacle for a group to enjoy. The game fuses Pictionary-style drawing and guessing mechanics with elements of doll-play and improvisational theater, asking players to place themselves into a difficult emotional scenario with their partner. The game includes a whiteboard arena, dry-erase markers, post-its, colored playing pieces and a series of scripted prompts. Using only these tools, a player tries to get their partner to guess the unspeakable relationship issue. By inserting players directly into the representational world of the drawing space, the game encourages empathy, divergent thinking, and novel communication strategies.
Elephant in the Relationship began during my first semester of grad school in Tracy Fullerton’s core Design for Interactive Media class. The class focuses on Iterative Design and paper prototyping of games and other interactive designs. One of the assignments is to create a serious game. I worked with the amazing team of Andy Uehara and Joshua McVeigh-Schultz to design and develop the party game which we eventually called Elephant in the Relationship.
The academic prototype was very successful and as a team we had such fun developing the game that we decided we wanted to expand on it and take it to the next level. During summer of 2010, the wonderful Casey China joined the team and we embarked on the second phase of development of Elephant in the Relationship.
Elephant has been featured in at Game Show NYC, a games, education and art conference in Spring 2011 and at Arse Elektronika 2012 in San Francisco in September 2012.
As the team is currently not all living in the same geographic area, further development of EitR is on hold at the moment, but we hope to finalize it soon and bring it to market.