I’ve come across this game because my lecturer advises his student to play it as a means to know what’s his course will be all about. His course is called ‘Economic and Politic Development’. I took it in my seventh semester, exactly the second half of last year (2014). It is a really exciting and meaningful game, yet so simple and fast. You should try it now! (Of course, after you read my post, ‘kay?)


AYITI - Cost of Life
Ayiti – Cost of Life

AYITI: THE COST OF LIFE (2005)

Go here to play it: [link] or [link]

Ayiti: The Cost of Life is a decision-making game about how to achieve the best future life possible when they only have limited means and struggle with the poor environment. This game introduces one Haiti family (the one in the picture) called Guinard family, consisted of five members: The father Jean, the mother Marie, big brother Patrick, big sister Jacquline, and the youngest brother Yves.

How to Play

Before you press ‘play’, it is wise if you press ‘help’ first. You need to know how to play the game, don’t you think so? (Even though you will also learn this after you press play, well, nothing is wrong with knowing it first :p)

Your goal in this game is to help the Guinard family get an education and improve their lives. The game takes places over four years with four seasons each. The seasons will affect what is available or unavailable in what the family can do that season, so be careful. Take in every information so you know what the best decision for the family’s life.

Before you play, you have to assign each family members a role to play each season, namely: rainy, summer, hurricane, and dry season. There are four big options to do: 1) you assign them to work (volunteering is included inside), 2) you assign them to learn at school, 3) you assign them to take care of their health by going to clinic or hospital, and 4) you assign them to rest at home, not doing anything that season.

All family members has a set of ‘condition’ statistics: 1) wellness (general health), 2) happiness (emotional well-being), and 3) education (current education level). Depends on how you play the game, this statistic may raise or down. When it is down until the point of zero, or until the status of statistic is bad, you need to change how you play it. Don’t let it be ‘game over’ before it is supposed to be over.

More about how to play the game, see Help section (the picture below).

AYITI - Cost of Life - Help
AYITI – Cost of Life – Help

Modes

So, after you know how to play it, you can start the game by clicking ‘play’ (or if you want to know more about the situation in Haiti that springs the game, you can click ‘more information’). You will then asked to choose in which modes you want to play the game.

The game offers you four main strategies (mode) to play: health, happiness, education, and money. Look at the picture below for the description of each mode.

Four strategy in the game 'Ayiti - Cost of Life'
Four strategy in the game ‘Ayiti – Cost of Life’

Of course, whether you can survive or not depends on how you play it. These modes are there to take a statistical data of how people think to solve the issue at hand. But of course your choice has their own implication to the game. It’s uncertain for sure how they are differ, but you can always expect a different implication or set of different option when you play the game in different mode. For example, in ‘happiness’ mode, the stat of the characters will be tend towards happiness more. In ‘money’ mode, the job option will vary since earlier years than later years… The kind of disease that the characters will have also differs! I can’t know for sure, you have to analyse yourself.

The creator of this game also make it challenging; I mean, they will show you the implication of your choice that made you think you choose the wrong mode. So, it’s like whatever mode you choose, they will always give you an ‘attack’ scene. That’s why, you cannot know for sure which mode is the best, because it is all back to how you play it with the mode you’ve chosen.

Introduction

(cough) okay, back again… After you choose your mode, you will then be introduced about the Guinard family’s condition, hopes, and challenges to achieve their hopes (see the picture below).

AYITI - Cost of Life - Introduction
AYITI – Cost of Life – Introduction

And then… all you need to do is play. Remember! Take in everything and execute what you think is the best thing to do under that kind of situation.

After playing (at the end of the game, or when you have a ‘game over’), they conduct a survey. They will ask us whether you still agree with the earlier assumption of the game’s mode. It’s so simple and will be done no more than 15 seconds (I think).


Self-Rules

My lecturer gave us three rules before we could play this game. 1) We have to take notes of every choice we make in the game, 2) we can only play it three times at max, and 3) we have to keep the family alive until the end of the game (end of the sixteenth season).

The reasons?

1. Every single decision that we make can ruin ‘our life’ in the game or make up for a good future. That’s why, we need to take notes the first time we play, and of course the second and third time as well. I advise you to examine everything carefully. The first time especially, because you play while trying to grasp how, and all your decision will be all the more mattered. It shows how prepared or blind you are to the situation in which you are plunged into. It also shows how reckless you are in life. Because the principle of taking decision is applicable not only in game but also in life as well. Only the degree is more varying in real life…

2. Why play only thrice in maximum? Because by then we will be accustomed to the game and (probably) know the best strategy to win (after all, game is about winning). Besides, if it is really real life, there will be no other chance to live anyway. When you’re dead, you’re dead. You cannot come to live and play again, right? So you need to play it as best as you can, just like how you need to cherish your life as best as you can.

3. Why we need to live until the end of the game? (cough) Isn’t it obvious? If all the characters are dead, the game is over, and of course, we lost. And it also reflects how poor our survival skill are. Despite that, the game is really about how to survive and create a good future despite poverty and lalala. If you remember, the game even says that if both parents are dead (even if the children are not), the game is over. Because… who will take care of the children? They will eventually be dead, a simplifying end.


My experience

The first time I played, I chose ‘education’ mode. Because for me, education is all that matter. You want a good job, you need a good education. And while at it, you also need to earn money… Okay. But then, my game went worse, one by one got sick. WITH A DEADLY DISEASE. Like, “Gosh, Mom got cholera.” “Dad???” “WHAT THE-EVERYONE GOT CHOLERA!”  and before I could enter the end of third year, the game was over. Yeah, shocking. I was like, “NOOOO!! I’VE KILLED THE MOM!!” and then “GOSH, THE DAD IS GONE TOO!!” and then the game’s ended. I was pretty depressed when I got a bad ending.

That directed me to a conclusion, by the help of after-game survey as well, that education will not matter if you’re sick and dead.

The second time, I chose ‘money’ mode. If education cannot achieve the best result, then maybe money would. Because after all, we need money when we live. Money has become so important as a means to measure things’ value that it almost dictates our lives. But, even though I played ‘money’ mode, I didn’t work them hard until they collapse. I still believe that education is important, thus sending the player to school. Okay, it doesn’t work. I still got ‘game over’. Obviously, because I use wrong strategy in that particular mode. But really, I don’t like that notion.

But I finally get the hang of it.

So, I chose ‘happiness’ mode in my third try. I didn’t send them to school in the beginning because I focused my game on earning more money first. Besides, like I always believe, learning knows no limit. They actually earned more points in education by working. You see… ‘learning by doing’. Yep, right. But of course, formal education is also needed. That’s why, when I had enough money, I educated them and tried to make them prosper. Yeah, it went good. I was not all rich, but I thought the family could survive all right, and their future was better (not just slightly). Too bad there’s only four years to play.


So, what are you waiting for? PLAY IT NOW IF YOU HAVE NOT ALREADY, DAMNIT! Go here to play it: [link] or [link]. If you have then excuse me, maybe you want to play it again. And you can always share what you get or feel in the game by commenting 🙂 Thank you…


Credits:

  1. Actipedia. “Ayiti: The Cost of Life Video Game”. [link]
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