The Truly Terrific Traveling Troubleshooter

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It’s a moonless night. A traveler arrives in a new town carrying just a suitcase and a small overnight bag. The suitcase catches the eye of passersby. It’s a warm, brown hue, and looks like it came out of a fairy tale, a different era.

The traveler looks like the sort who is used to moving on, like the kind of person who lives life on the road. Are they a salesperson? An entertainer? A magician, or maybe a fortune teller?
It isn’t long before they set themself up in the local public house, lifting the suitcase’s leather latch, and revealing its contents. It turns out that they are a little bit of everything that onlookers were imagining.

They have a service to offer. Everyone’s got troubles, and this traveler knows a thing or two about troubleshooting. They are willing to help anyone who asks, for a price — everyone’s gotta eat, and under the capitalist kyriarchy, no one can afford to work for free.
If you’ve got a trouble, it’s best to go down to the public house to meet the Troubleshooter today, or ask if they’ll still be around tomorrow. They’ll earn their keep here for only a little while before they move on.

The Truly Terrific Traveling Troubleshooter is a radically soft suitcase game about emotional labour and otherness. In this game, we speculate about what would happen if emotional labour were valued as it should be — as in, the same way we value other labour.

This physical/digital hybrid roleplaying game for two people fits entirely inside of a carry-on suitcase. One player takes on the role of the Troubleshooter and the other is a Customer with a trouble. Assisted by the Troubleshooter’s toolkit, the SUITCASE (Suitcase Unit Intended to Cure All Sorts of Emotions), the players work together to find a solution to this problem.

All the objects within the suitcase (with the exception of the Customer’s magical book) are handmade with soft materials and connected to a digital interface. The combination of a hard-shell suitcase with the soft innards that form the core of the game is a physical metaphor for radical softness and feelings. Softness, yielding, vulnerability, cuteness and other traditionally feminized traits are often associated with weakness, and in a culture that valorizes strength, having a thick skin, stoicness, logic over affect, and other “masculinized” traits, being soft is a radical act.

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Upcoming Events

UPCOMING

QGCon 2017 Arcade, University of Southern California, April 1st & 2nd 2017

PAST

5a7 @ TAG Research Lab, March 23rd 2017

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About Us

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Handsome Foxes in Vests is a game-making duo made up of two queer, nonbinary devs, Dietrich Squinkifer and Jess Marcotte. Together, they are interested in making performative games involving physical interfaces and intimacy. Their work often has a homey, handmade aesthetic.

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Squinky has been making games for over a decade in a variety of industry and artistic settings. Jess has been making games since January 2013 and looks up to Squinky as their sempai. On the other hand, Jess is one year ahead in the doctoral program (INDI) that they both attend in Montreal at Concordia University, which makes them their sempai. It’s confusing, but stick with us, we’re almost home.

For Global Game Jam 2016, Squinky and Jess (creating as Team “Get It On, Bang a Gong”) made a game about the ritual of greeting called “Most Sincere Greetings, Esteemed One” and for this year’s GAMERella jam worked together with creator Sarah Fay Girard (as “the International Oppression Olympic Committee”) to create “Oppression Olympics 2K16” which is almost exactly what it sounds like . As you can see, Squinky and Jess like to change their team name to fit whatever game they happen to be working on together.

Squinky is best known for their queer and socially awkward mobile device-assisted interactive theatre game, “Coffee: A Misunderstanding”, as well as their stop-motion musical detective adventure, “Dominique Pamplemousse in: ‘It’s All Over Once The Fat Lady Sings!’” They have an MFA in Digital Arts and New Media from UC Santa Cruz and are working on a PhD about autobiographical games at Concordia University. They also were part of the Forbes 30 Under 30 in Games list in 2015. More on their work can be found at squinky.me and their Twitter is @TheSquink.

Jess is best known for their work with Tweed Couch Games, and in particular, “In Tune,” a physical/digital hybrid game about navigating consent where two players are asked to negotiate physical touch as a way of thinking through other forms of consent as they engage with questions and prompts that deepen their knowledge of each other. They have an MA in Creative Writing (Concordia University) and are currently completing an interdisciplinary PhD in games at the TAG Research Lab (Concordia University). They are @jekagames on Twitter and maintain a blog about their creative process at tag.hexagram.ca/jekagames.