Experience, Empathy, and Robin

Experience, Empathy, and Robin

The first time I saw Robin as a work in progress, I was struck almost speechless. A cute little indie game is right up my alley, and a cute little indie game about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is basically everything I’ve ever wanted. Even better: it’s made by a group of kiwi students who are the sweetest.

Robin’s main mechanic is based off of the Spoon Theory, a common way for chronically ill people to explain their limited energy reserves: as you make Robin perform actions, her energy bar empties until the only option is sleep. It’s simple but effective, and evocative of daily life for someone with Chronic Fatigue. A rapidly depleting energy bar is a part of life for us, not just a game mechanic.

However, though chronically ill people may find their lives reflected in some form in Robin, I suppose we must ask the question: can a game ever actually help able people empathize with those who are chronically ill? Can a game really make someone understand in a way that positively changes their thought patterns?

Yeah, probably.

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Bloom; a Game About Surviving

Bloom; a Game About Surviving

When you have a chronic illness, it starts to become the core of your being. It becomes hard to not let your illness define you, to actually live a life. It also becomes hard to explain your experiences to your healthy friends and family and I’m somewhat glad that I have friends with similar experiences for support (though I am not thankful they also have to live with these struggles.)

I’m not sure when  I first heard about the interactive narrative tool, Twine, but from the start I had a feeling that, as someone who wants to get into game narrative, it was the kind of thing I’d want to experiment with. My first idea was based around chronic illness, and trying to illustrate what life is when you have one.

And so, I created Bloom.

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PAX to the Future

PAX to the Future

I started this year with the goal that I will write, and I will write what I’ve planned—even if it takes me far too long to get to it. I said I would write about PAX Aus, and so:

PAX. A huge con that spanned the weekend of October 31 to November 1 last year at the Melbourne Convention Centre.

So many trees in that city! SO MUCH GREEN
So many trees in that city! SO MUCH GREEN

I’d been dreaming of visiting Melbourne for years, ever since being told it’s a “cooler Wellington”. Being invited along to PAX—Penny Arcade Expo—by my friends was the perfect opportunity to see the city and finally taste its world-class coffee.

(In hindsight, I’m not sure I even drank coffee there.)

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