“Eyes Off!” is a mini-game series that promotes vulnerability acceptance in daily experiences of gender discrimination. The project centers on power inequality in the context of victim-blaming. The mini-games offer situations that suffer from social gaze, evoking feelings of being investigated and in a dilemma. It aims to challenge the conventional perception of a “perfect victim” and forward the idea that vulnerability is a natural human trait that should not be equated with weakness.
The game includes 9 levels spread across 3 chapters: General, Gender Roles, and Harms, creating a journey from generality to specificity. The Peeper monster, as the protagonist, represents social norms and stereotypes. Players will act as the “red” characters to solve the puzzle, preventing Peeper from looking to pass each level.
In 2022, I came across an anonymously written article in Taiwan where a woman suspected that she had been secretly photographed. Unfortunately, instead of receiving support and understanding, she was met with victim-blaming responses. Many people accused her of being careless and blamed her for not protecting herself. I found this victim-blaming culture extremely problematic, as it not only deflects attention away from the possibility of sexual harassment, but it also places an unfair burden of responsibility on the victim. Moreover, many of these comments came from other women, which was especially disheartening.
After reading various stories in the shared context, including those of my close friends who experienced sexual harassment, I tried to figure out how to address this issue through gender theories. As I delved deeper into the literature, I discovered many troubling structures and harmful social norms in modern society. However, I decided to narrow down on victimization of sexual harm as a starting point to effect change.
“Vulnerability” is the subject I focus on. As long as we no longer stigmatize it as weakness or failure, we will stop judging others based on the absurd norms for “perfect victims”. However, as it’s a complex issue to make conversations, I decided to take games as my form to voice the notion, in the hope of reaching a wider audience and easing the barriers for its nature of playfulness.
After the first playthrough of “Eyes Off!”, players experience a reverse role, changing from victims to society who can actively stop others’ gaze. Experiencing the same levels in the second playthrough, players’ shift in perspective allows them to better understand that victims’ vulnerability is not to blame, but rather those who exploit it. The project aims to create an enjoyable and welcoming environment to discuss serious issues related to gender relations, encouraging people to initiate conversations and create change.
See more documentation of the project here.