The Average Gamer

Indie Rock: Social Interaction Trainer

Asperger’s Syndrome has fairly prominent representation within my circle of friends. It’s all over our dang brains. You can’t throw equipment for an eclectic hobby in a room of my phone-contacts without bonking someone who’ll give you a 5 minute rant about their favourite episode of Buffy.

I’m better than I used to be, living with my own diagnosis. I’m over a lot of the more difficult aspects and enjoying the fun shit. I’m learning to read faces better just through trial and error over the innate recognition that a lot of neurotypical people take for granted. Some parts of being a regular-ass human are lost on me. Specific to the subject at hand, today’s silly video game thing Social Interaction Trainer, I’m trying my best to know what to do with my dang eyes.

Looking someone in the eye is so overly personal, intense. Did you know that if you want a cat to come and hang out with you, the last thing you should do is look it in the eye? They’re put off by what it signifies, an assumption you mean them harm because that’s the only reason you’d have your vision so laser-focused. I don’t think we were ever supposed to stare at each other, but apparently we are. As this game explains, we often don’t have a choice.

Social Interaction Trainer isn’t very serious, but it’s somehow still a decent primer for people who’ve not built up an awareness of tact, subtly and timing with where they should be looking and when.

The game has you control the eyes of a dude using your mouse pointer. You pick a scenario that a regular human might face on a day to day basis and solve it by moving your pupils around. A few opening situations are just basic primers of the mechanics. Look at people when they’re talking to you, but then also don’t be too intense. Probably don’t stare at their genitals either.

Difficulty is increased as the events become more serious. Being on a date and trying not to creep your partner out or seem too disinterested in what they’re saying. It’s important that you look at them, but don’t, like… don’t overdo it, dude. She’ll get creeped out.

Social Interaction Trainer - UrinalsIt’s interesting to see a single mechanic and player action meaning different things in different contexts. All you’re doing is moving the mouse where you think it should be, but it means opposing things. Looking away means disinterest, it means respect, it’s a way to cool off, it’s a signal of pacifism. But looking at someone in the eye is also a way of showing respect as much as it’s a way of asserting dominance.

As someone who can see all of this shit in a vacuum and understand it but not necessarily take anything into the real world, Social Interaction Trainer’s an oddly sophisticated way of bridging the gap between practice and playing out some realistic situations.