The Managed Heart

In the Managed Heart, you must navigate your emotional state, exercise restraint, and manage their exertion.




Created in the Winter 2022 Game Design Workshop (DESMA 157), taught by Eddo Stern


Canvas, Clay, Cards, Prints


Lala Luo  :  Game design, concept, and visuals

The Managed Heart is built upon Arlie Russel Hochschild’s theory of emotional management and labor in today’s society. Hochschild delves into contemporary society, contending that individuals, particularly women and middle-class workers, must regulate their emotions based on the circumstances in order to thrive and succeed. At times, they may need to express feelings, while at others, they must suppress them, all contingent on societal demands. Eventually, emotion management can become an internalized struggle, pushing individuals to their limits.

In this game, players must navigate their emotional state, exercise restraint, and manage their exertion. Ultimately, the player with the highest job rank emerges as the apparent victor. Nevertheless, upon reconsidering the game’s process, it becomes evident that there are no true winners: one may either succumb to the strain of overwork or crumble under the weight of emotional turmoil. The game’s objective is to illustrate the essential nature of emotional regulation and restraint in the modern world. Unleashing unchecked emotions can lead to adverse consequences in numerous scenarios, while suppressing them can prove detrimental and even fatal to oneself.