At last, Cover Girl is out and can be found here. It’s a project for Channel 4 Education and focusses on the media’s cynical manipulation of body image.
I will let Andy tell you more:
It’s over two years since the original pitch was put together for Cover Girl. The idea evolved from an experiment to use input methods from everyday PC applications. The aim was to look outside of games for interactions that had a pleasing feel to them and graphics packages, with their myriad of virtual manipulation controls, were a fertile ground. There are definitely interactions that feel just right; they have an intuitive nature and a pleasing elegance to them.
This train of thought lead to a ‘casual’ game that was scrapped at the prototype phase, but the idea of interactions based around existing operations remained. Then, as often happens, a simplification of what we originally set out to do dawned on us. Why try to force an image manipulation technique into a new environment? Why not build a game around the user experience within its original context?
Once I started to run with this idea – ‘How can I make image manipulation fun?’ – the bulk of Cover Girl formed very quickly, and in an automatic way:
How can I make image manipulation fun? By manipulating images of humans…Manipulating images of humans…that’s what magazines do…and it’s a bit sleazy…and it gives people self-esteem issues …and lots of people don’t understand how much of it goes on…and maybe I should give Channel 4 a call.
We’d already met Alice at Channel 4 Education, and knew they were interested in games that could help teenagers get to grips with what the world throws at them. They liked the idea, so we went away and created it.
The actual creation of a game is a long and difficult process. Cover Girl had some tricky hurdles to overcome; it was Tuna’s first Flash game, nobody had ever made a ‘Photoshop Em Up’ before, so we couldn’t easily learn (or steal) from other designs, and then there was the presentation – should we use photos, or cartoons, or 3d models..?Over the course of the last year, and through numerous iterations and redesigns we ended up with the finished product.
Along the way we also ended up doing things that game developers don’t normally do. Things like; setting up photo shoots, talking to doctors and psychologists, going into schools to talk to teenagers, and even attending debates about body image at the Houses of Parliament. It has truly felt like a journey.
And so Cover Girl is live. We hope you enjoy playing it, and that you’ll tell your friends and family (especially the teenagers) to give it a whirl. And maybe the next time you’re faced with a wall full of magazines, all displaying seemingly ‘perfect’ cover stars, you’ll remember some of the tricks that Cover Girl has revealed.
Finally I need to give out some massive thanks:
Sarah, Chris, Lawrence, Jim and Nick
Alice, Celia, Azka, Gemma, Kimberley, and Gayle at Channel 4
Ian, Monika, Dominika and Jacqui
All of our brave (and forgiving) models
And an extra special thanks to Alex and Mark (the management team at Tuna) not just for digging in and taking the project over the finish line, but for letting me run with my ideas over the last seven and a half years.