Digital Narrative Games

  1. Spent

This game allows you to see life as a low income worker in the US. I played it twice; once I chose to work as a factory lifter because of the steady hours, while the second time I opted for the temp job. I realized how difficult it is to make it through the month, especially as you’re forced to sacrifice many items that are extremely important necessities, such as dental care and fixing your car. I also learned how much people suffer at this income level, where they don’t have dental insurance, they’re forced into any job they get and are grossly underpaid, and they make some really difficult decisions which forces them to sacrifice their health and even their mental stability. The reason I didn’t make it through the month was because my landlord wanted me to pay $350 in order to keep my pet. How could anyone be forced into such a decision? It’s inhumane! I also realized during the game that I would sacrifice a lot when it came to my expenses, but I would try my best to keep my kid satisfied. I loved how informative and realistic this game is as it helped me realize a lot, but I would’ve preferred it more if I could tackle more situations during one gameplay, because in order to get a better view you need to play several times which may bore its users before they actually benefit from it.

2. Darfur is Dying

Before I played this game, I didn’t realize the extent of the massacre going on in Darfur, which shows how poor media coverage of such atrocities are especially since Egypt and Sudan are neighbors. I was horrified to learn that the Darfurians live without basic necessities like shelter and healthcare, but what was most painful to realize was how hard they fought in order to secure their water, which I along with millions of others take for granted and may even waste. I liked the campsite the most because it was full of many examples of different realistic situations inflicted upon several characters, as well as its description of how life went on in these villages. I learned that there are NGO workers present in most villages, but their work is usually hindered by the Sudanese government. Moreover, the militia kidnaps and rapes women and even young girls, while adult males may be immediately killed. My only improvement to this game would be to make it more simple and easier to follow since I wasn’t able to play all of its parts well.

3. Depression Quest

I chose this game mainly because of my interest in the cause it’s spreading awareness for. What was very intriguing about this game is that it allows you a dip into a depressed individual’s thoughts and struggles, rather than merely inform you about the topic at hand. I learned how a depressed mind is its own worst enemy, as it makes you regret every decision you make and hate yourself for each and every action you do. I related a little bit with this game, because although I am (thankfully) not depressed, I am an over thinker, so I kind of know how it feels to wrestle with a million negative thoughts (I do not claim to know how it feels to be depressed, I actually acknowledge how serious the condition is), which helped me feel empathy towards the game’s main character through his journey. My criticism for this game, however, is how long it is; both in playing time (it took me over an hour to finish it) and how much reading is involved. The game’s length actually made me feel a little down and I needed to disconnect for a couple of minutes while playing every now and then. My recommendation would be to make it shorter and more to the point with less reading.

4. Bad News

I played this game to learn about a subject I greatly enjoy; fake news. We always see these jokes about how parents and the older generations believe everything they see online, but this is actually a pressing issue. As I played through the game, I realized how easy it was to gain a following by sharing complete rubbish. People will follow any entity that seems official. If it’s flashy enough, they won’t bother to check out what’s real and what’s not. The tools used are real low-blows too, especially playing on people’s emotions. When their emotions are triggered, people usually let their guard down and believe what’s being fed to them. The game also demonstrated how easily the masses could be manipulated and whipped into a frenzy over meaningless and fake information. I loved how the game allows you to see the realistic side of things. However, it would’ve been more beneficial if there was less sarcasm and more clear information instead of relying on the player’s deductive abilities. Make it easy for everyone to get the point.

5. Living

Living is a short journey which shows you life through the eyes of a stray dog, but the creative twist here is that you don’t realize it except at the end. I picked this game because I believe animal rights is an important cause that doesn’t get enough light or support. I personally relate to the turmoil of stray dogs since my neighborhood (and generally my country of Egypt) is full of them, so I am exposed to their suffering on an almost daily basis. The game, however, was too short for me to gain any new information about the topic; there were no situations or narratives that taught me more than I’d already known. It would be more beneficial in spreading awareness if it was richer in facts and informative scenarios.

6. Single Mothers

The topic of this game really caught my eye when I first saw it, as our society always looked down upon single mothers and treated them badly. This was evident throughout the game where even the mother’s parents blamed her for her divorce even though her husband was abusive. I learned how difficult it is for an Arab woman to manage the finances of her children and household in a “man’s” world, however I would’ve liked to learn more about the topic since I played the game twice with different scenarios but it still ended too shortly. I believe this topic is extremely rich and the game could be made much more informative and dynamic than it is.

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One thought on “Digital Narrative Games

  1. From your comments on Depression Quest and Single Mothers game – it seems like it’s important to find a balance in the length of a game. It should not be too short that you don’t manage to get the message, or too longer that the player gets bored or loses focus… find the sweet spot.

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