SiSSYFiGHT 2000 emerged from a wonderful collaboration between myself and Word.com, a seminal content website from an earlier era of the internet.
The game was played in a browser, and for its time was quite technologically innovative. For example, as far as I know, SiSSYFiGHT was the first game to feature real-time browser chatting, and the technology company Shockwave used to show it as a technical demo back in the day.
In SiSSYFiGHT, each player designs a schoolgirl avatar. The game unfolds in a series of rounds, as each player simultaneously decides what action to take each round. The goal of the game is to reduce the self-esteem of other girls, by using actions like tease, scratch, and tattle. The twist to the game is that you need to coordinate your actions with other girls – a tease, for example, only works if two or more players gang up on a third player. But because everyone is planning their actions using public chat, SiSSYFiGHT quickly becomes a game about social manipulation and bluffing.
As a game design experiment, SiSSYFiGHT featured truly social gameplay, leveraging the “negative” mob mentality of the web to great effect in the game. The game visuals were inspired by 8-bit Nintendo graphics (before big pixels became sexy) mixed with elements from outsider artist Henry Darger. SiSSYFiGHT was unusual in that all of the players had to take on female roles – and these fugly girl characters certainly did not fit into videogame stereotypes. They were neither princesses-to-be-rescued nor Lara Croft style pin-up action sluts.
The game was wildly successful for its time, with hundreds of thousands of registered players. SiSSYFiGHT supported a robust online community that included improvised game variants, roaming vigilante squads, and fan art galore – including my favorite, the SiSSYFiGHT Musuem of Modern Art.
I still have a deep fondness for this game. SiSSYFiGHT 4-Ever!