Technoculture, Art and Games (TAG) is an interdisciplinary centre for research/ creation in game studies and design, digital culture and interactive art

Research & Creation

The Truly Terrific Traveling Troubleshooter

Jess Marcotte, Squinky

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 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.