A cooperative puzzle-playground for two

With You is a two-player puzzle playground designed to inspire conversation and collaboration within romantic couples.

Carol Mertz
Class: Thesis 1 - 2019
Instructor:  Frank Lantz    

With You is a cooperative two-player puzzle-playground designed as a collaborative, playful space for couples. The game is intended to be accessible and interesting for both new and seasoned players, and is made to evoke a sense of intimacy and communication between the two. While created with romantic couples in mind, it’s a game that aims to encourage healthier collaborative habits within any relationship.

Played out through short, wordless levels, With You tells the story of two characters who meet and grow closer to one another as they explore the world together. Scenes and scenarios are abstract, leaving room for players to project their own experiences and emotion onto the characters.

The world of With You is one that feels as though it’s simultaneously trying to keep the main characters apart and also bring them together. The world is difficult to navigate and the players are intentionally awkward to control, but the partners bring each other companionship and an expanded set of abilities. Together, players complete physics and platform challenges through a series of coordinated actions, trust falls, and collaborative problem solving. Other non-playable characters in the environment represent friends, family, and strangers with their own sets of goals and abilities, and impact the way the characters interact and progress. The actions players perform and the goals they fulfill vary in intimacy throughout the game in order to support the overarching emotional narrative.

My goal in creating With You was to expand a sub-genre of cooperative games that I affectionately refer to as “date games” — nonviolent cooperative games for multiple players, which facilitate communication and collaboration. These kinds of games have been a way for me to establish and strengthen relationships, trust, and communication among friends, family, and romantic partners. Through the design and development of With You, I was able to explore how cooperative games do this, who they appeal to, and how we might consciously embrace and encourage prosocial behaviors through game design.