January 10April 1, 2018
The Game: The Game
2018. Angela Washko (b. 1986, Reading, PA, lives in Pittsburgh, PA)
The Game: The Game takes the form of a dating simulator, pitting you against six men who are aggressively vying for your attention at a bar. These characters are based on real-life “seduction coaches” who offer tips and techniques—ranging from confidence building to psychological manipulation—that teach men how to interact with women for the primary purpose of quickly engaging in sexual encounters.
Composed entirely of scenarios, techniques, and language from texts and instructional videos created by these seduction coaches, The Game: The Game flips the script on the iterative processes of some of the world’s most prominent pick-up artists. If their techniques are systematically manipulative, The Game: The Game allows you to tactically explore, expose, and defuse them. But it also makes you complicit in their frequently dehumanizing behavior: refusing their advances results in a brief game. Only by actively consenting to participate in your suitor’s methods—which can range from cheesy to violent—will you be able to more fully understand them. The game is at turns funny and alarming, an experience heightened by a disorienting original score from Xiu Xiu.
The Game: The Game is the product of several years of research by artist Angela Washko in the pick-up artist (PUA) community. Sorting through this often troubling material, she rejects the polarizing language that frequently surrounds PUAs, offering a nuanced view of power and desire in the complex world of contemporary sex and dating by giving players the opportunity to experience these systems firsthand. The world premiere of the complete The Game: The Game arrives at a galvanizing moment as the United States engages in a wide-ranging public conversation about the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace and state house.
The Game: The Game is exhibited with The Game: The Game Research Reel (2018), a compilation of hidden camera footage, instructional videos, and conference recordings by seduction coaches that highlights some of the actual techniques, scenarios, and language that were included in the game.