Thoughts on Interactive Guessing Game, Filipino or Not?

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Imagine a game “African-American or not”? What about “Irish or not”? These game titles sound a bit strange, don’t they? I’ll share a story with you. It’ll be short. One of the most offensive things I’ve ever heard said to me was at my first corporate job at a real estate firm (right out of college). One of the engineering managers said, “Hey Louisa”. I turned around and said, “It’s Dorothy”. He replied, “Oh, whatever, you all look the same”.


That incident was 12 years ago and as much as I would like to think things have changed. They haven’t. I’m not upset (anymore). Rather, it makes me wonder how I perceive my culture and ethnicity. Or, how do I see other people of color? Last weekend, my dear friend and her partner took me to the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF) showing of XXX Shorts, which is not what you think (X=10. X + X + X = 30. 2012 commemorates 30 years of SFIAAFF!). Each film included thoughtful and provocative interpretations and meditations on various traditions and issues across various Asian cultures.

Subsequently, I perused the Center for Asian American Media site and had to look through the Interactive projects (I’m always looking at what designers have created to supplement an event). It’s rather common for festivals and art fairs to create interactive apps for patrons and supporters. Typically, the governing or founding organization develop these tools for android and iPhones so the viewer is connected to the entire event regardless of the end user’s location. Theoretically, these projects serve as a way to build consciousness and awareness around race and gender. I ended up downloading the game application, “Filipino or Not“. Initially, I had mixed emotions (only because I had never played a guessing game regarding this specific issue – guessing someone’s ethnicity!).  Playing the game, I learned a few facts about Filipinos and Filipino-Americans in the media. The goal of the game is stated clearly within the application. Despite my initial feelings of ignorance (my first score was 8/10, apparently, the average score is 7/10) after my first game, I’m sure the game designers’ intention was merely to enhance our knowledge and awareness. However, a friend’s thought was that it increases racial profiling and stereotypes, which can be true depending on one’s experiences. I’d like to think, at the end of the game, that the player is reminded to NOT judge people based on their appearances. Or, does the game actually do more harm than good?

Curious? Feel free to download and let me know what you think. Here are some questions for you…

What do you think of these types of games? Have you every played one? What ways have you learned about your culture and ethnicity? How does interactive design and technology help or hinder our understanding of race and gender?

6 responses to “Thoughts on Interactive Guessing Game, Filipino or Not?”

  1. As usual, those are very intelligent questions. (I’ve encountered a graduate or two from top-notch universities that I, not so educated, can recognize as numbskulls.)

    Anyway, I was thinking of downloading the game later with the intention of sequestering it to avoid being all riled up by the content. But you did it and I think it merited your approval so I’m definitely gonna check it out later without fear.

    Speaking of knuckleheads, to put it politely, why do those who LEAST DESERVE the insults get them?

    I’m normally a humble pacifist, but if I were witnessing that incident at your first job, I’d make it a point to make his life miserable and write a streaming succession of letters to his superiors letting them know in detail why that maggot is a disgrace, pollutant, and (what’s the opposite of asset/) to the corporation, and demand a letter of apology from him to you, and will not stop until heads roll along with his!

    Tomorrow I’m going to check out that game and see what a ‘vintage Filipino’ is supposed to be…


    1. One of my friends and I started talking about the game. I made him play it and he was appalled and upset after playing it. He felt that it upholds stereotypes and perpetuates racial profiling. Granted, I agreed with him that the overall design of the game is not great. I also, initially, had a knee jerk reaction to the very existence of the game. HOWEVER, I think the very fact that the game ignited such heated conversation was actually good.

      I think the game, for me, does the opposite. I think it forces me to re-think my perception of people (whatever ethnicity they are). About that engineering manager at work, I have to admit, I knew he was ignorant and that’s fine. He is, obviously, not someone that I could engage in conversation with. I’m curious what other people think BUT I highly doubt people will leave comments. This could easily get heated. Perhaps, I’m too much of a pacifist and try to see the good in everything.

      You will have to enlighten me on the meaning of a ‘vintage Filipino’?

  2. (Twice already the ethereal continuum delete my message.A first for WP.)

    There’s not only intelligence but a vestige of true wisdom in being asked to answer what a ‘vintage Filipino’ is. (It’s a nonsensical phrase I just made up as an interpretation of what the game was meant to convey.)

    It was an irresponsible, foot-in-the-mouth response; one of the many I try to keep in check to keep from inflicting any harm.

    But the feeling is not as caustic. I look forward to playing the game as a pleasant respite from the tedium of other activities.

    At gunpoint, though, if I were asked to give an example of what a vintage Filipino is, I’d probably say Jose Rizal.

    I’m going to play the game now…

    1. Nothing is irresponsible in the realm of thought and engagement. I like the idea of a ‘vintage Filipino’. Immediately, I couldn’t help but think of someone that is refined and classy. In any case, Jose Rizal is a great pick. The game is quite the interesting experience. As I mentioned, my friend was appalled. He’s white and Jewish and showed me a ‘Jew or Not’ site online. In any case, I stand by the fact that game design and dynamics ought to force people to think. I definitely see his point about it perpetuating certain physical stereotypes, etc. BUT I saw it being the other way around. THAT games, such as Filipino or not REMINDS the player and viewer (well, has the potential to do so) that judging on mere looks alone is NOT how people learn about one another. Then again, I’m quite the optimicist and love anything that starts dialogue. Again, looking forward to hearing what you think.

  3. Hmmm. I’m finally coming around to checking this out. Um, I think this discussion would be best served over some hot cocoa. (Yes. That’s my way of coercing you into taking me out:)

    1. Agreed! Looking forward to re-connecting and discussing. Looking forward to hearing what you have to say about the app.

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