The Story Behind Avatar Planking

The goal: make people laugh.

The Story Behind Avatar Planking

When I found a news article about some “planking craze” that was sweeping Australia, I thought maybe it was another street drug, gang initiation routine, extreme sport, or self-mutilation phenomenon that websites latch onto in order to scare out-of-touch parents: “Is your child planking?   How to detect early warning signs before it’s too late.” and “Little Timmy was like every other kid, until one day his parents found him face down in the yard.”

But no!  Planking was a harmless, easy activity.  It was the anti-extreme sports, the anti-lawbreaking hobby.  And the irony made it flippant and ever-so-slightly edgy in spite of itself.  I thought, by the same token, wouldn’t it be ironic if an Xbox Avatar, whose purpose in life is to do standard video-gamey things like running, jumping, and shooting… instead has to lay on stuff!  Match made in heaven.  Of course since planking is inherently (and awesomely) ridiculous, I had to up the ante and find the most ridiculous places one could possibly plank, as well as add interactive elements like squirming, making faces, and grunting.  The goal: make people laugh.

Now the way to check if something is edgy or lame is if it offends people.  Some Xbox Indie Game peer reviewers “got it” and thought it was hilarious, others said it was garbage and that they’d fail it no matter what the review rules said.   I will save the peer-review details for those who care, but suffice to say after two arduous months, multiple reviews, and angry statements on the review forums, Avatar Planking passed review. Most reviewers who liked it passed it incognito to avoid retribution (i.e. bogus review fails) from the haters. That rarely happens, usually people want credit for their reviews. To you unsung heroes, I salute and thank you! Someday these people will “come out,” and I will throw them a party.

In the end though, I accomplished my goal of respecting the ideals of planking and making people laugh.  Like a Wayans Brothers movie – not everyone laughs, but it’s made for the people who do laugh.

About Danimal

Danimal is the resident code monkey, artisan, musical director, and PR shill for Highbrow Games. Enjoy his ironic mustache.