Tread Together

Interactive Narrative Gameplay to Introspect and Scrutinise Privilege

Role: Primary and Sole Author
Duration: 4 weeks
Awards: Jury Honorable Mention


While ostensibly meritocratic, our society functions on an imperceptible yet undeniable paradigm of privilege. Privilege is an unearned, unasked for advantage gained because of the way society views an aspect of an individual's identity, such as race, caste, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, and language. Privilege permeates nearly every facet of human existence and yet we seem to barely recognise its role in what are seemingly impartial outcomes. Tread Together is an interactive narrative based game that uses gameplay as a tool to help people better reflect on their own privilege and examine how it affects the people around them using a combination of critical and reflective design. The narrative transports players to embark on a journey through an alternative perspective in the game with the express intent of introspective contemplation and scrutiny of privilege as a dominant paradigm in society.


The research for "Tread Together" combined primary and secondary methods to explore the complex concept of privilege. A thorough literature review examined its various dimensions, including social, religious, and economic factors, forming the game's conceptual foundation. Concurrently, primary research involved 14 diverse participants, aimed at understanding perceptions of privilege, introspection on personal privilege, and communication barriers around the topic. This comprehensive research approach was essential in shaping the game's narrative and ensuring its relevance to real-world experiences and perspectives of privilege.

Focus Group Discussion


Semi Structured Interviews

Associative Experiment

Conducted in two groups with 5 members each, these discussions revolved around the existence and extent of privilege in individuals' lived experiences, including the benefits accrued from privileged status and societal mitigating factors.
An exercise where participants were asked to move forward or backward in response to statements read by a facilitator. This activity was designed to make participants confront how society privileges certain individuals over others.
Post the Privilege Walk, participants engaged in semi-structured interviews to discuss their experiences and emotions from the exercise. This qualitative analysis provided deeper insights into personal perceptions and experiences of privilege.
This method involved participants responding to generative scenarios where privilege played a role, such as being passed over for a job based on gender, ethnicity, age, or sexual orientation. Participants shared anecdotal experiences, both where they benefited from and were impeded by privilege.


Pursuant to the Covid-19 global pandemic, a nationwide lockdown was implemented in India that prompted the mandatory closure of factories and workplaces. India has an estimated 139 million migrant workers  that are often denied adequate healthcare, nutrition, housing and sanitation. With transportation systems initially shut down, loss of income, food shortages and uncertainty about their future, thousands of migrants began walking back with no recourse to travel options resulting in harrowing journeys back home. The shocking images of migrants forced to walk in desperation showed the enormity of the crisis.

Subsequently in the same interim, in a conversation about the then ongoing lockdown, a friend expressed their displeasure at the inability to go to the gym for their daily cardio on the treadmill. This dichotomy in society fuelled by privilege was an indication of how oblivious we can be to our own privilege and how that might affect others around us. This identification prompted the conception of Tread Together.


“Tread Together" is an interactive game where players engage by walking or sprinting on a treadmill. This physical activity is more than just a game mechanic; it's a metaphor for traversing through life's varied privileges and challenges.

As players move, they encounter decision points where they use two buttons to choose their path, each choice reflecting the complexities of societal privilege. The game's narrative changes based on these choices, leading to different outcomes and offering a deeply personal gaming experience.

The interface is straightforward yet immersive, with clear visual and audio feedback enhancing the experience. It's designed to be thought-provoking, encouraging players to introspect about their societal position and the role privilege plays in their lives.


The development of "Tread Together" involved a three-stage prototyping process. Initially, an interactive questionnaire was created as a web app, where users answered questions reflecting various privileges, mirroring the final game's early phase. The responses were used to tailor the game experience. The next stage was integrating the game with treadmill controls. A prototype was developed to adjust the treadmill's speed, testing how physical movement could be seamlessly woven into gameplay. The final stage involved using Unity for level design, giving the game its visual form. While the hardware integration with the treadmill was a significant technical achievement, further testing was planned to refine this aspect. This prototyping process was instrumental in bringing the game from concept to an engaging, interactive experience.