How to Blorrble Blobble

How to Blorrble-Blobble illustrates how games can be more than mere entertainment as this fun game about learning to dance teaches young people about consent at the same time.

Games are more than mere entertainment

A lot of games try to tell a story using few words. Others, they may tell their story using way too many.

How to Blorrble Blobble is a free game produced by the nonprofit group Jennifer Ann’s Group

With the former, it is not the easiest thing to properly communicate what you want people to take from it. You run the risk of your audience not seeing the point, or worse, getting the wrong point altogether. The former is certainly not good, but the latter can create the wrong (or even perhaps negative) interpretation of your work.

How to Blorbble Blobble handles this kind of game pretty well.

Video games can make you feel a certain way with wordless prowess, making you do things that may make you uncomfortable.

There are several ways to communicate through an interactive medium. The most common is through text and dialogue, unsurprisingly given that most stories are expressed that way. I personally feel that this is not the best way to do this in video games. It is not a bad way to do it, by any means. Most of my favorite video game stories are expressed through this way, after all. But some of my favorites in turn take great advantage of an interactive medium’s inherent advantages.

Video games can make you feel a certain way with wordless prowess, making you do things that may make you uncomfortable. For example, The Walking Dead games, while dealing with a character/dialogue-driven story, also evokes certain emotions by making players make hard decisions, such as whether to spare someone who had “done you wrong.”

So many options … which will Triangle Boy choose?

How to Blorrble Blobble

How to Blorrble Blobble focuses specifically on putting you into a real-world situation. ‘Blorbble-Blobble,’ or ‘Blorrbling‘ as the narrator/instructor calls it, has you following a strict ruleset when initiating the dance with another partner. You get to play as either Triangle Girl or Triangle Boy, and are walked through the game step by step, with the first step straight up having you seek out a partner with whom to dance.

Triangle Boy meets Disco Girl

Once you find a partner (Disco Girl or Disco Boy) you then are taught various procedures of Blorbbling. The first proper step is to greet them (after all, it is just polite). Once you greet your new Disco friend, you can ask them if they want to dance. Following this, they will either accept it or reject it. If they do reject it, you then have to respect that and back off.

It’s a delicate balancing act between respecting someone’s agency and respecting that someone under the influence can’t properly consent…

If they do decide to dance with you, you then have different protocols to follow. When you obtain consent, you can then give your partner a high five dance. After this, you then can move onto the fist bump – but not before asking if they want to continue dancing though. Consent may be revoked at any time, and this is both normal and okay.

This rule applies also to belly bumping, the final dance step. However, just because someone appears to consent does not necessarily mean that they are able to consent. At times, you may see that your prospective partner does not actually have the wherewithal to give consent. It’s a delicate balancing act between respecting someone’s agency and respecting that someone under the influence can’t properly consent to things.

Bumping bellies in How to Blorrble Blobble

My thoughts on How to Blorrble Blobble

If this seems like this game is trying to convey something other than dancing, you would be correct. It uses cute styles and cute concepts (high fiving is not exactly the most traditional dance move), but in reality, the basic rules of consent being discussed here correspond to sex and romance as much as it relates to dancing. This fact is conveyed to the player near the end of the game by Orca (although I did not feel that it needed much in the way of explanation).

Lessons like this from Orca are helpful – especially for those who’ve never been taught consent!

The player is also reminded about their own consent. When the player’s Triangle dance partner abruptly leaves Orca reminds the player that they can also disengage from Blorrbling whenever they so choose. If there is one thing that I particularly would like to see however would be to have your choice of character to not be based on a gender binary, and to instead name Triangle Girl/Boy and Disco Girl/Boy as “Triangle” and “Disco.”

The game has an interesting and funky art and musical style, evoking a 70s style. Whenever you initiate actions (such as asking for consent or dancing), you get a special little audio jingle to go along with it that makes the experience a little more active and transformative. The gameplay is simple rule-following, with not too much deviation.

I would have liked to been able to do different dance steps out of order, or even skip certain dance steps altogether, much in the same way that a sexual encounter does not require that you necessarily follow the same steps every time, or the same steps in order. The game conveyed this issue somewhat, as at one point you can choose to put belly bumping as the next step instead of fist bumping, but it resulted in the game soft-locking (thankfully it saves your progress up to that point). An expansion on the concepts to explore consent in a greater degree would be much appreciated, but How to Blorrble Blobble is already an interesting means by which to explore consent as-is.

Play How to Blorrble Blobble

Developed by: Jared Sain
Produced by: Jennifer Ann’s Group
Price: Free
Language: English
Age Rating: Appropriate for all ages

More information about How to Blorrble Blobble

ADRIFT on iOS Makes Learning About Trust and Consent Easy

ADRIFT: a game about consent, is a sci-fi adventure that is both engaging and entertaining for kids of all ages. The lessons in the game are presented in a way that people from almost any age group can learn the importance of consent. This short, but educational, game is great for a class project about consent beginning with elementary school children without having to directly speak to them about sex. Let’s talk about the ways ADRIFT makes learning about consent easy for all ages on IOS devices.

Listening To Your Partner

One of the most important lessons that are brought up in ADRIFT is the importance of listening and communicating with your partner about what you are both feeling. Many times in this game the in-game computer that the player is interacting with will let you know what actions you can take in order to escape the failing space station; it’s up to you whether you listen or not. If you decide to listen to your partner then you will end up with the good ending but if you don’t choose to listen to your partner the ending will be bad and will leave the main character filled with guilt.

If you decide to listen to your partner then you will end up with the good ending but if you don’t . . .

Part of this experience is trusting the computer “character” to correctly show you how to proceed in the game without doing anything that would harm them. For example, if you ignore the computer’s instructions and power the wrong part of the ship then the computer will open the door – but will also experience a great deal of “pain.” This also lessens the computer’s ability to make the last part of your escape easy by providing a lighted path through a dark room. This reminds the player that consent is not limited to romantic relationships but applies to friendships as well. ADRIFT helps teach children to respect their peers at a fundamental level and to use these skills to effectively communicate their own needs to others.

. . . consent is not limited to romantic relationships but applies to friendships as well . . .

The game is also easily accessible to parents of children who want to start teaching their child about consent. The game is a free download in the iOS App Store making it very easy for anyone who wants to try ADRIFT out. The game also doesn’t take up a ton of space making it perfect to fit on iOS devices with smaller storage space. We do recommend that your child have a decent amount of basic reading skills to really enjoy the game as the story is text-based instead of being voiced-over.

ADRIFT in Real Life

Students: although in the real world you’re likely not going to get trapped in a space station with a talking computer (at least not yet!) but you might be in a project with a friend who has certain needs that are different from yours. By learning to understand each other’s needs and to respect each other’s boundaries students will be better prepared to handle the trials and temptations they might confront in adolescence through peer pressure, romantic relationships, and other situations impacting consent.

Educators: ADRIFT is also a great way to easily introduce an older classroom to the topic of consent without beginning with some of the more serious aspects of consent. This affords educators the opportunity to gradually and organically work with their students on the fundamental issues about consent before moving onto some of its more serious applications like dating abuse. Educators will also appreciate that the game’s publisher, nonprofit charity Jennifer Ann’s Group, has made this game 100% free to provide a free resource to teachers in order to encourage classroom use of this consent game.

Parents: as public discourse about consent becomes more mainstream parents are becoming increasingly aware of the need to talk with their children about consent from an early age. ADRIFT offers a perfect way to begin that first conversation with their child because of the child-friendly treatment of consent in this clever innovative game. ADRIFT is rated as appropriate for players ages 4+.

Developed by: Quinn Crossley and Andrew Connell
Produced by: Jennifer Ann's Group
Price: Free
Language: English
Age Rating: Rated 4+

More information about ADRIFT
ADRIFT: a game about consent, on the iTunes Store
Play ADRIFT: a game about consent, in your browser
Watch a video trailer about ADRIFT: a game about consent