Grifting adventure The Big Con was a tough sell because the crime is non-violent, according to the game's director.
As ᴡᴇ ᴡʀᴏᴛᴇ ʙᴀᴄᴋ ɪɴ May, Tʜᴇ Big Cᴏɴ ɪs a ᴄᴏᴍᴇdy adventure wʜᴇre ʏᴏᴜ ᴛʀʏ pʟᴀʏer a teenᴀɢᴇr ᴛʀʏɪɴg ᴛᴏ raɪse ᴍᴏɴᴇʏ ᴛᴏ ᴋᴇᴇᴘ ʜᴇr mom's video stᴏʀe ɪɴ bᴜsɪɴess. But ʜᴏᴡ cᴀɴ a kid ᴄᴏᴍᴇ ᴜᴘ wɪᴛh thᴀᴛ kɪɴd ᴏꜰ scrᴀᴛch?
In the '90s-themed game, you play determined teen Ali, who sets across the country to steal, scam, grift, and con her way to the nearly $100,000 needed to save her mom's business. Wear disguises, pick pockets, sneak around and eavesdrop to plan your big score and rid your marks of their money.
The Big Con was featured on the Tribeca Games Spotlight today, where game director and writer Dave Proctor of Mighty Yell, the Toronto-based developer, talked about the fun and challenges of making The Big Con.
"One of the toughest things about making this game was selling people on the non-violent crime aspect of it," said Proctor. "Games with guns don't bat an eye, but the moment you have to steal an old lady's wallet, people start to think maybe there's something wrong with you."
It helps the good-natured vibe of the game that the bamboozled victims of Ali's crime-spree are losing their money for a (mostly) good cause. "One the one hand we get to make a game we've never seen before, which is a con artist video game," said Proctor. "And on the other hand we get to couch that in a conversation about small business surviving and a story about a [single] mother and daughter."
Setting the game in the 1990s not only makes the plot a bit easier to believe—a teenager grifting on the streets in the age before cellphones and the internet—and also allows for a bright and colorful palette for the game's art design.
"I watched a lot of cartoons growing up," said Mighty Yell artist Saffron Aurora. "Hey Arnold, Doug, and The Simpsons. They sort of set the foundation for the this cartoon '90s aesthetic. Bright, contrasting colors, exaggerated features, and fun geometric patterns."
Ali's style is straight from the '90s, too. Ripped jeans, baggy T-shirt, plaid shirt tied around her waist, and of course, a baseball cap worn backwards. "That to me was always the signature look of the cool leader-type character that you'd see in a lot of cartoons," said Aurora.
There's no solid release date for The Big Con just yet, but its Steam store page says is planned for this summer. In the meantime, try not to think about what happens to Ali and her mom's video store when Netflix comes along.