Signal Lost (2022)
Game: Created by Iris Xie
Medium: Board game, box, cards, sheet of paper,
Dimensions: 5.85 x 3.85 x 1.15 in
Signal Lost is a party card game about solving miscommunication through non-verbal means in a setting where astronauts solve miscommunication problems in space. I wanted to create a fun game that explores my feelings of frustration when I am misunderstood due to my neurodivergence. The game mechanics are a combination of popular party games such as Taboo, Charades, and Pictionary, which consist of cards, a word guide, and a booklet with instructions. The game is played with a minimum of three players. One player is the astronaut who is lost in space, and the other two are their fellow astronauts who need to communicate with the lost astronaut. The rule is that astronauts cannot use words to communicate with their fellow astronauts. Through playing, the players gain an understanding of how neurodivergent people have alternative ways of communicating clearly. While the mechanics of the games deliberately create friction, there is also humor to the experience that makes the game light-hearted.
The instructions on how to play the game are as follows:
The astronaut pulls out three descriptive cards consisting of adjectives and then discards one back into the card pile. You then pull a channel card consisting of four actions: sketch, sing, mime, or write a haiku. Using those two words from the descriptive adjective cards and one channel card, the astronaut communicates a “message” by writing down the word they are trying to get across to the other astronauts. They then proceed by acting out the channel card that best expresses the message. If the other players guess the message correctly, then the game continues with a new astronaut.
This is meant to be an easy-to-learn game that is friendly to all ages; it allows for a funny and gentle discussion about differences in neurodivergent communications. Neurodivergent folks often have several diverse ways of expressing themselves that are tangibly different from the neurotypical conventions. By creating a game that explores these challenges, I hope to destigmatize negative stereotypes of neurodivergence. The game was playtested over Zoom and in person, and both ways of playing provided valuable insights into making this game easily accessible while highlighting the importance of communication as the game’s central theme.
Alt Text Image Description (Co-written by Hannah Sullivan Facknitz, Sarah Cavar, Iris Xie)
The box, booklet, and cards before you is of paper and cardboard printed in various colors of indigo, forest green, burgundy, sky blue, fuchsia, and light pink, with spectral, glitch-like boundaries that fade to a light blue, like the cover somehow lost its dye. Across this bleeding color, faint isometric circles are tangled throughout. Dotted white lines of various sizes freefall across the indigo-white-blue
On the box cover and the booklet, centered, large bold black letters in all caps read, “Signal Lost.” On the bottom left the text reads, created by Iris Xie and on the bottom right the box explains it is home to a party board game for 3 or more players. As “Signal” sits atop “Lost” the “I” and “L” connect as one. On the cards, they say the following words, Keeper, Receiver, Astronaut, Message, Channel, and Key.