Organ Trail

Mapping the complexity of organ donation through game design

About the Project


January 2013


Cambridge, MA


Eduardo Marisca
Don Mitchell

Organ Trail was a game prototype built along with Don Mitchell for the 2013 Global Game Jam, where the prompt for design was the sound of a heartbeat.

The game is designed to convey the anxieties of being an organ recipient, as well as the complexity of the organ donation system: specifically, how the whole system is built on a system of fragile public trust, and how events in the world can sway public opinion in life-changing ways for many people.

The game’s design offers little in terms of agency for the player: the only actions one can take only exert an indirect influence over the system by trying to grow the donor pool altogether. Direct action, while possible, carries extremely high risk: one may be able to purchase an organ in the black market, for example, but the transplant carries a high risk and the additional possibility of being discovered and limiting the donor pool because of the breach of trust.

Don worked on the Python backend for the game, and I worked on the frontend using Bootstrap and we both worked on the concept and the game design.

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