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#iHunt. Think Poor.

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Heroes don’t wear capes.

One thing about #iHunt is, it’s a game about poor, hard-working people. People who are struggling. People who have to make very bad choices in the absence of good choices. In a way, #iHunt is a game celebrating the working poor. Sure, it’s dark. It’s cynical because we live in a cynical world. But in the end, it’s about looking at these people achieving in spite of all odds, and being in awe of how they manage to survive as a revolutionary act in spite of the system.

I know that some people playing #iHunt really won’t understand how this works. Sure, you can understand “it sucks to be poor” on a raw, academic level. But there are some realities to poverty that you really cannot understand unless you’ve lived it or at least considered the specifics from someone who has lived it.

For this reason, there’s a chapter of #iHunt dedicated to explaining some of the issues people face. Things like food scarcity, how expensive it is to be poor, and the ways being poor permanently affects your way of thinking.

Here’s an example of this guidance:

Feast or Famine

One important thing to keep in mind is that poverty isn’t just a temporary, immediate state. It’s a lifestyle, and in many ways a state of mind. Poverty can change a person and cause habits to form that a person might never overcome, even if they become wealthy. The easiest of these habits to understand is feast or famine mentality. 

Feast or famine mindset has a person indulge whenever any degree of surplus happens, in preparation for an inevitable lack of those resources. For example, when a person gets their tax return at the end of the year, they might buy a nicer television, or take their family out to a “nice” dinner at a fast casual restaurant chain. Critics say these people should instead “save it for a rainy day.” But here’s a secret to being poor: There’s always a rainy day ahead, and no amount of saving is enough. 

If you have a $500 tax return and save it, next week you’ll have a $700 car repair and lose your job because you can’t get to work. You’re still fucked, but you didn’t have a nice dinner, and don’t have a TV to relax with. Some logic would suggest that the $500 could help to buffer the problems associated with the job loss. But like I said—it’s never, ever enough. If you lose your job and have that $500, a relative will get sick and need it to cover the hospital bill, and your kid will break their glasses and need an immediate replacement. 

This isn’t really irrational. This isn’t magical thinking. It’s a clear and present pattern. There’s not a poor person on earth who hasn’t tried their very best to make financially sound decisions on multiple occasions, only to be proven time and again that it’s not sufficient. So why try? If you  have money, someone will take it. It’s best to use it for temporary relief while you can, if you’re fully aware that there’s no realistic scenario where you’ll actually have your basic needs covered and you won’t have to worry about the next crisis. 

In #iHunt terms, this is covered by the Dilemma mechanics. Every chapter of the story, the Director is empowered to make each player make a hard decision between two undesirable outcomes. This exists to perpetuate this reality in some ways. In a game sense, it means the players will always have motivation to continue #iHunting, and by extension to keep the story going. #iHunt isn’t a game where the prince gives the characters a noble quest to slay the dragon. It’s a game where the characters need money, and there’s a dragon over there and a big fucking price tag on his head. After the dragon’s dead, because of feast or famine mentality, you spend that chest full of gold pieces because if you don’t, someone will fucking take it from you. If #iHunters are in a situation where they don’t need money anymore, they stop #iHunting.

Let’s do another more directly applicable metaphor: You’re stuck in a horror movie situation, locked in a building with survivors in a walking, hungry dead apocalypse scenario. Bullets are tight. You just traded a week’s food for five bullets. One of the monsters gets into the base. You shoot it four times and it goes down. You have one bullet left. The feast or famine mentality says you should shoot it in the head and confirm the kill. The “logical” mentality says you should save that one bullet in case you need it for the next monster.

But one bullet won’t be enough. The next thing that comes through that door will slaughter you. So the best thing you can do is put that one last bullet in this monster’s brainpan, so you can enjoy your last six hours alive.