Trying to find another human being to spend a lot of time with is one of the great universal struggles. Whether it be a romantic partner, a roommate, or a new hire, finding the right person can feel impossible. This is why dating apps and roommate apps and hiring apps have proliferated our lives, they claim to make the process of finding another person easier. They have also made the process much more boring. “Boring” would be the last word I’d use to describe digital artist Danielle Baskins’ hiring strategy of strategically placing floppy disks, each of which includes a link to her game Cofounder’s Quest, across the city of San Francisco.
Baskins is a digital artist with a background in immersive theatre known for producing a lot of weird viral shit, all of which is rooted in a parody of the realities of late-capitalism. She’s had people go on Tinder dates with drones wearing sweaters, made corporately-branded fruit, and masks with your own face printed on them. Some of her shitposts have become small businesses.
Most recently though, and seemingly most genuinely, Baskins created Dialup, a mobile app which connects two random people, gives them a conversation topic, and just lets them talk. The app emerged out of quarantine hell, when a lot of us were desiring any amount of real human connection, and has since been well received. Cofounder’s Quest is a game she designed to find a cofounder for the next stage of this particular project.
It’s a relatively simple choose your own adventure game made unique by its phenomenal grasp of aesthetics. It is an incredibly pretty and charming sequence of dialogue options. The game has you walk through a few days in the life of someone who uses Baskins’ existing app Dialup and attends one of her popup Distanced Tarot readings. It’s all a really clever way to pitch the kinds of things she enjoys working on. Eventually, your character loads up the Cofounder’s Quest floppy disk they found while out walking one day, which takes you to the Cofounder’s Quest website that clearly lays out what the actual job and its responsibilities are.
The whole endeavour, especially the tweets which show Baskins slipping floppy disks into partially opened windows, feels like it is riding an incredibly thin line between a parody of overly aggressive recruitment and trying to gamify everything, a genuine embrace of a cool and fun idea, and an example of the exact kind of weird behaviour she’s spent her career making fun of. Which is to say that it’s deeply in line with the rest of her work.
If you want to try the game, which I recommend just for its vibes, you can do so over at cofounder.quest