Reflection: Digital Narrative Games

SPENT: This game is basically a life simulation of a low income citizen dealing with poverty. As required, I played the game twice, choosing the first time to work in a warehouse as a warehouse-associate and choosing the second time to work as a temporary worker in an office ( I chose both of them as they had the highest per hour wage of $9/hour). Both turns, I learned that being a low income citizen is HARD on so many levels. Money affects not materialistic things or physical necessities such food or housing but affects things such as relationships with family members and friends; at a certain point, I had to use the feature that allows me to to break my kid’s piggybank, ask my friends for a ride and donate blood for money. What I loved about this game is that it’s 100% realistic, it actually shows what people with such an income go through on a daily basis (the feature that shows the statistical facts blew my mind and broke my heart every-time). The game actually made me feel as if the money and the circumstances were real; it made actually things very hard before every decision I took, asking myself what might happen tomorrow of I don’t take the right decision. Playing this game made me feel very privileged and helped learn about the struggles faced by the poor on a daily basis. One suggestion that I have to improve the game is to make a bit more visual, with characters and videos/picture; the game itself is very well made yet I believe could be a bit more appealing.


Syrian Journey: Choose your own escape route: 

This game is basically a simulation of the life and escape of Syrian refugees. The Syrian conflict has left thousands dead and drove millions to flee their homes; the game puts you in the shoes of a refugee fleeing Syria for Europe and gives you the ability to take the escape decisions for yourself and your family. What I loved about this game is the fact that it is based on on extensive research and real stories of Syrians who have made the journey; it allowed me to have a glimpse of journey to understand the real dilemmas the refugees face. Playing the game, I always felt scared as there was always a possibility of either death or deportation; once again it made feel very privileged.  One suggestion that I have to improve the game is to make it look a bit more professional; Spent had the professional-look feature to it and this game had the visuals needed – a combination of these two features would be perfect.

The Voter Suppression Trail:

The Voter suppression game is a very well made game that effectively and simply shines a light on the idea of racism in polling places. Describing it as heroic journeys, the game shows it’s harder for people of color to cast their votes and how manipulation is used to keep these voters away from the polls. What I loved about this game is how well made it is; I absolutely loved the fact the it had a 90’s Atari vibe to it. One suggestion that I have to improve the game is to make it longer I guess.. It was very short as all the player had to do is just his/her ethnicity (either a white programmer from California, a Latina nurse from Texas, or a black salesman from Wisconsin) and basically nothing else.

Sleep-Deprived Mom Game:
Created by my own professor Dr. Maha Bali (@bali_maha on Twitter), this game promote empathy with sleep-deprived moms as for many of them sleep deprivation is a lifestyle and not a choice. The game is very simple the player has to pretend to be a mom who has one barely potty-trained child and no nanny and to make decisions based on the need to sleep. I loved this game as I, in a way, am a parent to 2 younger siblings (a teenager and an 8 year old boy) with my single mother. One suggestion that I have to improve the game is to make it look a bit more professional and to make it a bit more visual.
Created as part of a PhD study, this interactive fiction, this TERRIFIED me. At first I was very confused as I didn’t know who I am (in the game) or where I was or basically anything about what the game is about; but the more I answered question, I found out that it’s about a serial killer Doctor and I got scared that something scary might pop-up so I just closed the tab.  What I loved about this game is how the questions give the player many options and that it has a pretty good storyline.  One suggestion that I have to improve the game is to make it  a bit more visual.
Reflection on all the games:
I loved all five games (Escape one not so much) as they were very engaging – some more than others though. I believe that a combination of all the elements that make these games good would make one great game; elements such as an engaging storyline, good visuals, a professional look, etc..

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