Hallo there!!!

About a year ago I posted on gameful about a game concept I was working on to help the homeless. In a nutshell it's a facebook game that puts the player in the shoes of a homeless person. The game awards points that can be traded for real life coupons that the players can handout to the homeless. Coz basically, giving them money isn't always the best way and just plain ignoring a beggar...  geez.. it's like denying his/her human existence... The moonshot idea for the game is to create a support network where players will reach out to the homeless and help them beyond just the coupons. 
The game concept won third prize in a local 'Play4Real' contest, so if anyone is interested in making something like this, let me know =D

That is not what this discussion is about though! The game above is complicated and I won't even know where to start in creating something like this. 
I'm trying to come up with a much simpler version! A package that every do-gooder can just download and do! And here's where I want all of you to throw in ideas :)

Here's what I came up with last night while I was supposed to sleep XD Very rough around the edges!

I want to keep it as simple as possible. You ask the beggar's name and then offer him a fruit with a sticker on it: 

"YOU are the man we need!" 
"There's a special package - just for you!" (And a map to it)

I want to create some childlike curiosity and a sense of wonder in a person that has been so shattered by the world. I want this small sticker to make them feel special BUT! They can't just sit back and receive! They have to go the mile to get this package. (I don't know if they'll be suspicious and ignore it though >.<)

The package will contain various items like toothpaste, maybe an old hoodie. But also a clue to the next package:

"You are my equal and I know you know that. But you have a special need. What is this need that stops you from achieving the man/woman you want to be?"  

They must fill this in and leave it somewhere. I want to make them think about the problem. Be it alcoholism, depression, unemployment, disability - I want them to think about the person they can be! The person they WANT to be. AND! By sending them on a short treasure hunt, I want to bring them in touch with people that can help. Job recruiting, psychiatrists, rehab. etc. But also to show them the wonders of the world again. Let them feel they've accomplished something and show them that first step to getting their lives back. 

I can't create a full fledged facebook game, but I can create printable content and if any of you can help me come up with super awesome game mechanic ideas, I believe this one can be pulled off =D 

Hope to hear many crazy and exciting ideas!

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Hey Scott!

Yes, I've followed Mac's discussion :) The games the kids created are great! I'm a boardgame fan so the winner really appealed to me also =D 

The thing I'm trying to do is go beyond creating awareness. I want to create an easy way for people to take action and really change lives. 
I've been helping out at a charity for the homeless for some time and even after that, it is still very hard for me to go up to a random homeless person and start a conversation with him/her. Sometimes it's fear, sometimes it's shame, sometimes I feel that I won't be able to offer that person anything so why even bother? Awareness is very important, but even the aware sometime needs a small catalyst to actually do something.

Hey Pnet!
I really like where you want to go with this! My only fear is that we might appear patronizing even though that is not our true intention.  Maybe if we focus more on creating friendships or empathy rather than trying to direct them to a job/psych/rehab resource?  Even if that's what they really need, it might come across as passing the buck.

LOVE LOVE LOVE this though : ""You are my equal and I know you know that. But you have a special need. What is this need that stops you from achieving the man/woman you want to be?"  

The winning game Hobogo was a crude prototype.  Only a few of the index cards got sent through the art pipeline.  I may have to get everyone's notes back and complete the polished edition myself.  Probably send it to thegamecrafters.com for POD services.  Unless you have access to better options?

I'd be open to chat :)  Google+ hangout, FB, etc

Hey Scott!

Thanks for the reply :)

Yeah.. I see what you mean... would it then make sense to rather approach a homeless person, chat a little, and then ask a favour from him? Something we can't do ourselves? I want them to somehow feel needed and important again.   

I think cultivating friendship and empathy would be really hard and should rather be a game aimed at nonhobos, like Hobogo. Ah, it should be as simple as asking a homeless person for a coffee at a cafe, but back in South Africa a friend of mine did that and the cafe owner came out and asked them to leave!
I also don't know how people will feel about sitting on a street corner for half an hour chatting to homeless people... and of course arranging a follow up meeting isn't going to be easy since homeless people rarely stick to appointments due to alcohol, trouble with other homeless people, not having a watch, trouble with police... wow I sound like a downer.. sorry XD And for safety reasons you obviously don't want to tell a homeless person to just show up at your house whenever they find fit... 

Racking my brain here >.< what I originally thought of for the Play4Real contest, mentioned in my first post, was a series of cards with life achievements on them. Like: "Eat 3 meals a day", "get a small job", "show up for job 7 days in a row" etc. You hand the stack of cards to a homeless person over a friendly cup of coffee and he can arrange them in the order he would want to achieve them. It seems like their life is a race without a finish line, so they simply give up, but if you give them many small reachable finish lines, well, then maybe they can do it! And then obviously we have to help them achieve the things on the cards... but that places so much responsibility on one person... so I gave up on that idea...  
Just throwing everything out there, maybe someone sees a possibility that I've missed :) But yeah, after all that thought I came up with the treasure hunt. It would be possible to increase the 'human contact' aspect of it.. but I'm not sure if it'll be enough to cultivate friendships... any ideas?

(this post is already too long, but because I'm putting everything out there I'll also share this video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYj2wg0dl14 - the final game concept for the Play4Real contest. It had to be text based (contest requirements) but I've decided it should rather be a facebook/cellphone, pretty art, RPG =P)         

I will PM you about Hobogo - don't want to deviate from the original discussion here :)  

Okay, so here is what I've come up with so far. I didn't want to bore you so I made a quick sketch instead of typing it all out. Hope it makes sense =P

For the mini games I thought about themes like getting food, staying clean, giving money, dealing with alcohol or drugs, sticking to appointments, mental illness and safety. (Somewhere in the back of my mind there's a voice going - make these part of an overall RPG game.. dooo iiit... DOOO IIITTT.. cough.. there's possibilities =P) 

Scott has been kind enough to volunteer a helping hand with the making of some of the mini games =D I will continue to update the thread so anyone can still join in a long the way. 

I really like the whole "sticking to appointments" idea, though! :) In the train-world it'd be like having your tickets checked. Every once in a while. Anywhere. ... Then what'd be the police? That can be the same thing (tickets checked). Kind of like sticking to appointments, if you know what I mean :)

Update: some character sprites

I will post all my sprites and things as I make them on http://jnoodle.com/hobo101/sprite-grab/
If you want to help work on some mini games, feel free to take them :)

New goodies uploaded.

There's a few more - http://jnoodle.com/hobo101/sprite-grab/

Wow. I've lived as a homeless for 5 years. Mostly because of immigration reasons. Long story... Anyway, I had the same game idea few months ago too. I've been slowly developing it ever since. Here are some pointers I've come up with:

1. You should decide whether the game is going to be played by homeless people themselves or by someone else.

2. If it's played by non-homeless people consider what aspects of that person you'd like to change. I'm telling you straight away right now that designing the game for non-homeless will mostly draw ppl who want to mock the homeless. People who are interested in being involved with the homeless community and help them do not need a game to do it. It's possible to gamify their contributions but it won't be a game as such.

3. If it's played by homeless people it shouldn't use imagery of their reality in the game itself. Their reality sucks enough for them to see it again (even stylised and "cute") on the screen.

4. Now, once I decided to design the game FOR homeless people I've figured out straight away that this game can indirectly simulate their experiences and teach them being more resourceful with their time without using the imagery directly. In my example, I've just watched the movie "Darjeeling Limited" and I figured out that I can use the imagery of a luxury long-range train to simulate homeless world environment. The train restaraunt can be a soup van and the bed compartment can be their card board box. By now I've pretty much analogised all locations of the homeless experience as areas on the train...

5. After some consideration an idea came to me. All the actions and places on that train can be used directly to promote the people WHO WORK WITH HOMELESS PEOPLE. For example, when you eat at the train restaraunt in the game you promote the people who volunteer for soup vans and things like that. When you sleep in your bed compartment you promote the people who work at homeless shelters etc.

The promotion itself can be done in many ways. The simplest way I thought of is to just play video clips advertising those jobs and promoting the respect those volunteers/workers deserve. Perfect way would be of course to somehow send them automatic donations as the game is being played.

If you've noticed, this splits the game in areas: the area for the homeless where they just play and don't get the whole promotion side, and the area for normal people who can be sucked in thinking they're playing a game where they have to travel on a luxury Indian train but in the end realise they're actually becoming more aware of the amasing work those volunteers and workers who work with the homeless are doing (and maybe even get encouraged to volunteer themselves).

If you're interested in those notes, feel free to contact me, Pnet!

after looking at the first demo and Pnet's request to make a minigame, here's what I came up with!

This game has open world (a la the original GTA) style to it and it exclusively rotates around the drug and romance aspect of homelesness.

The objects are:

- the protagonist who is a socially active squatter with strong political tendencies (and therefore no home or job)

- police 

- other homeless people who are not anarchists themselves

- drug dealers

- handbag girls

- anarchy girls

- alcohol

- weed

- crack

Protagonist moves left, right, up, down, and can consume the drug he's holding or drop them down.

Police constantly chase the hero like ghosts in Pacman

Other homeless wander around and buy off drugs from dealers leaving that dealer empty.

Drug dealers sometimes have drugs and sometimes don't. They can move or stay at one of their set "bases". They'll sell the drug to hero if drug dealer is not angry at him. If the police catches hero just before or after the hero buys something off the dealer the dealer disappears forever. Once in a while (10% chance) instead of selling the drug they'll beat the player up and take whatever he's holding away - this random occurrence will not make the dealer angry at the hero.

Handbag girls constantly follow the police from behind and will join the hero if he has crack or on crack.

Anarchy girls can hang out by themselves or with dealers. They'll join the player if he has weed on him to share. If she's with a dealer the hero must also have alcohol with him to get the dealer drunk and stoned before running away with the girl (will require more weed). After that the dealer gets angry at hero and will take away any drugs from the player if he gets too close.

Alcohol doesn't require a dealer to be sold. And never runs out. Can be consumed but does nothing.

Weed changes colors of the game when consumed making it harder to play. At the same time it'll make everyone move slower making it easier to play.

Crack makes the player run faster if consumed.

Possible achievements/levels:

- Romance all girls

- Get all dealers into jail

- Get addicted to either alcohol or crack. On that level the protagonist will move much slower if his addiction bar runs out.

- Never get caught

This setup is quite inspiration to me, to be honest. With proper coding support this can develop into something really really big with: times of day, home bases for the hero, more drug types, more types of "normal" homeless, more minigames involving the aspect of being caught by police, buying drugs, and stealing girls off dealers, multiplayer!, money, weapons and fighting, social and political activism, etc.


This GTA clone would definitely have an audience, however it seems more like a full fledged game rather than a mini-game subset of SPARE CHANGE.  Glamorizing the romance and addiction aspects seems very GTA-like too, but not sure if that is where Pienette is wanting to go with this.


 If so, I may have to pull out as I am a public school teacher and am required to avoid such endorsements.



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