Kianis, maker of You Have To Burn The Rope, brings us a interesting social-metaphor-based game about riding the subway. It´s pretty simple; you pass the time by looking at stuff people are wearing, the longer you look the more points you score, but if they see you staring then you lose all points due to the flash of awkwardness. You can´t win or lose, you can just stare are more stuff for longer. It´s very Seinfeld, an interactive joke about nothing in particular. It´s really funny because the fear of making a connection with another human being is implied by its fundamental mechanic.
So let´s take this analysis to the metaprogramming level. I live in Buenos Aires, and I had an idea for a similar game while riding the subway one morning. Except in my game, in my corner of the planet, there aren´t nearly enough seats for the subway, and it´s really hot. So you´ve got over a hundred people per car, packed together like sardines, gasping and stinking; morochas wearing tank tops, Argentuppies plugged into tightly dangled MP3s, pit-stained suits, tiny beads of sweat. During rush hour a person of dainty build might be literally suspended off the floor. So in my game, staring is already obviated by the complete lack of free space; instead the goal is for everyone to avoid touching genitals or anuses (ani? anui?). I´d imagine the two-rile automata entities shuffling systematically toward a new array of tilts as the next infusion of passengers broke the former equilibrium. In Stockholm it´s cool and the government is fairly competent, the infrastructure anyway, so you get this game. In Japan, you´d probably get a game where the goal is to grope people rather than avoid physical contact. In Portland, maybe you´d make a game where staring is key, getting over the awkwardness if the goal.
Comparing cultures is troubling for many, riding the subway is awkward and disgusting, so I think I just squared that variable.