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Phase 1: Digital Narrative Games

In order to understand a certain idea in more depth, an individual is always advised to put themselves in one’s own shoes in order to grasp an idea of how they genuinely feel around their surrounding environment. However, this could be tricky to achieve since it is always believed that people are commonly empathetic towards the surroundings they highly resonate with. In that regard, I found that games hold tremendous purpose that we ,as individuals, might not recognize on a day to day basis.

 For instance, games tend to become powerful in the way they raise awareness about global issues that other people of different countries might not know of only because their geographical context is not close enough to the source of trouble. Also, games have their own way of shedding light on problems that would affect an individual on both a micro and macro scale, leaving the player in a state of empathy towards the trouble that encounters the individual on different levels. 

Game 1: Depression Quest


To begin with, my first game was focused on an individual based mental struggle. In the “Depression Quest”, I felt very attached to the game and could not help but relate to it on so many levels. Personally, I have a friend in my small circle of friends who has recently been diagnosed with severe depression. This on its own was a good enough reason to choose to play this game in order to understand why they behave that way and what they could possibly be thinking in their solitude that they always resort to. As a receiver to those reactions, an individual is more likely to fall into the pit of misunderstanding depressed people and find it hard to empathize with individuals that are not able to properly communicate their feelings.

 One of the things that caught my attention in the game is that we tend to judge people as being selfish for always choosing to stay by themselves thinking they do not think of their circle of friends and always choose their own peace of mind. However, I learned in the game that they have a lot more internal struggles with themselves than we actually see in reality that scared me at first hand. 

For instance, in the game, it was mentioned that as someone who suffers from depression you will always have a tendency to feel behind: “you feel anxious and ashamed and give a very abbreviated version. You try to talk about your job as little as possible, and you feel incredibly bored while you describe it despite her expressing sincere interest in you and your life”. 

Another thing I learned from the previous statement, is that it is never the friend’s fault and it would not do anyone justice to think that they will be able to fix them even if they are trying their utmost best to “show interest in their life and be there”.

 In a Middle Eastern country which finds therapy a taboo, one must find it very difficult to believe in the power of treatment in the first place, initiate it to their parents and find the courage to explore with several doctors in order to find the “right one”. 

In that regard, I believe the game could have been improved by making it site specific. By choosing one’s own context, it will be more relatable to the player to resonate to several cultural beliefs that worsens their mental condition or make it harder for them to take a positive step forward. However, I found it interesting to have an informal “updated” diagnosis that was changing as the game progressed.

Game 2: Know Yourself


This game was focused on assessing the player’s direct response towards day to day encounters in order to understand whether it was the right thing to do and realize where they stand in the end. Personally, I felt that this game helped me empathize with people of different backgrounds and avoid jumping to assumptions only because “it makes sense in this context”. 

For instance, it challenges our ability to make assumptions when seeing someone holding their phone during an exam suddenly when the TA leaves. This gives a first impression of cheating yet the “truths” the games show after every question reveal how far are we from becoming biased towards similar situations. Also, what makes it interesting is that it tends to affect our ability to judge by choosing different actions to do in the situation. I believe that it becomes useful and more honest to provide choices of action for the playing rather than asking them more straight forward questions like if they were judgmental since everyone would more likely reject the statement first hand. 

I learned to empathize with people to a certain limit. In that regard, one will be keeping a safe distance from people they do not know without imposing claims and judgements that might hurt the other party. Also, the game raised awareness on the idea that harmful people are out there so one must always be reasonable with their decisions according to the surrounding environment. 

Personally, I believe the game was targeting AUC students heavily. It could have been better to allow this game to remain specific to a certain scope of users but on a broader scale for instance by targeting students in the Arab World. As a result, more accurate results will be able to link to the initial title of the game which is knowing ourselves.

Game 3: SPENT


This game is designed to assess the gamer’s ability to make financial life decisions with a limited budget. I felt that the game was preparing me for adulthood in a sense. This is because I was forced to think of necessities that I do not put into consideration as a 22 year old living with her parents. 

Being responsible for a household with a very limited budget could be life threatening in a way that could put you in a position to harm yourself and not cater for essential health requirements to allow your children to have a respectable life. 

I learned in the game that although several options are given per question, some answers tend to be the obvious go to if I am always focused on the “total $” that exists on the left. However, this kept me questioning how realistic my decisions would be if they were to be implemented in real life. 

At the end of the day, my main goal was the craft the answers that would help me pass the 30 day survival of the game. On the contrary, how would this impact an individual in the long term? I believe the realistic aspect could be implemented in that sense by giving consequences after every answer that is “scenario based” in order to have a clearer vision of the consequences my decisions will hold other than affect my financial state which I was prone to lying in the game to maintain.

Game 4: Syrian Journey: Choose your own escape route


This game focuses on shedding light on the difficulties Syrian refugees face during the process of migrating to another country. This usually happens illegally due to the financial constraints that exist after the war that has occurred in their country.

In that regard, I felt truly engaged and empathetic with the refugees while playing the game. This is because the game was scenario based according to every decision I made while playing. I think this helped me understand the power of different opportunities every country holds. For instance in the game there were distinct consequences between choosing Turkey and Italy as a country to seek refuge in. 

I learned that although all of them would never host refugees with similar conditions, yet the game proposed different ways by which they are “rejected” if they do not end up losing their lives in the process itself. 

Personally, I believe that the game could have been improved by creating longer scenarios since it was the shortest game I have played so far. It was successful in a way that made the player “begin” to understand how its like to live in this environment yet I think it had better potential to continue moving further with the scenario based situation and leave the “death” option of refugees as a later result during the game in order to be able to connect to the context in a better sense.

Game 5: Fake it to Make it


The game sheds light on the power of social media to spread fake news and push an individual to believe false statements according to different factors. This can include tactics that are considered standard and are crafted in terms of “goals” in the game to help you reach your target value. 

Personally, I felt overwhelmed with the steps needed to achieve every task. As a social media user, I would never believe the intentions of article makers is that adequate to have a play on my emotions and impression towards certain segments of the society.

 I learned several interesting facts about the media and creating propaganda in an article. For instance, it was interesting to know that the articles with the highest reach are always political and tackle threatening issues that give a sense of “fear” to the user in the end. On the contrary, although our main target is to always surf the internet to feel happier during the idea, those type of articles had the lowest reach and would rarely create a “trend” for creators to opt for in the future.

I believe the game could have been drastically improved if the amount gained after every goal achieved was increasing proportionally towards the final amount. Personally, I felt uninterested midway as a player since I have spent almost 30 mins playing the game while still being 2% close to the total amount which seemed unrealistic and gave me a false impression about the field and how fulfilling it is from a financial aspect.

Game 6: Responsible Partying


This game raises awareness about the idea of consent and how well it needs to exist among societies with people of different backgrounds. Furthermore, the game chooses the context of a party in order to propose several incidents that occur and allow the player to make decisions according to their values and level of comfort regarding this matter. 

One of the issues that were tackled was drinking alcohol in a party where the majoring were more likely to be consuming it. I also felt interested to know more about the way personal boundaries are set on different levels from the videos being played as the game continues. 

Something I learned while playing the game was that consent is not a yes/no type of statement; rather it should exist in terms of levels in order to ensure someone’s comfort with participating in a certain activity. Also, it was interesting to know the statistics of people who are prone to doing a certain activity on a global scale. 

However, I believe the game could have been improved by creating better scenarios in a party that would relate to Middle Eastern youngsters. In that regard, it is a huge misconception to assume that parties are always meant to include alcohol and inappropriate behavior as essential factors of the surrounding. As a result, this would make the player feel uncomfortable with the way they do not resonate to such context and would become unable to make decisions in the party based assessment which was proposed in the game.


One response to “Phase 1: Digital Narrative Games”

  1. I really like the aspects of your feedback related to making context more explicit in the games – I agree that almost all the games can be improved by clarifying context, whether by specifying how narrow it is, or making it broader and not TOO specific to be helpful. Make sure yours is specific that way!


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