Digital Narrative Games

In this assignment I have played a total of 5 games. I have played Spent and BBC Syrian Refugees twice each. I have also played two professionally created games which are September 7th, 2020 and Sleep-Deprived Mom. The student created games I chose to play were Special Olympics and Orphan By Heart

My first encounter with Spent was in the classroom so I guess that I was numb while playing. I can say it was more of an experiment than a game and this is why I am glad I gave it a second shot at home a couple of days later. During my first encounter with the game I was more irritated by the fact I felt that I took the right decision but it turns out it was not. My second encounter was way more irritating even tough it was more calculated and way less impulsive, however, it was very disappointing that after all these calculations and sacrifices, I ran out of money quicker, I think here I became more aware of the struggles people face. During my first trial I ran out of money in 22 days and in my second trial I ran out of money in just 12 days after being harsher so here I would say that I have learnt that calculating each scenario and thinking of the consequences you will face will ultimately bring you down no matter what, I also learnt that sometimes it is better to take the risk of losing money than gambling with your health (dentist situation) or your child’s future (scholarship). One suggestion to improve the game would be to add more choices because I felt there is no need for the options to be this limited. I would understand why they are limited in BBC Syrian Refugees but in Spent it makes more sense to have more options to choose from.

I also had two trials at the BBC Syrian Refugees game and the first trial was also in class, however this game had me thinking more than Spent in the classroom because the choices I make are the difference between life and death. I took less risks and spent less money and I did not make it on my first trial. In my second trial I took more risks, spent more money and travelled more by sea and I ended up surviving. During this game I felt I was choosing between bad and worse which extremely devastating, the feeling of helplessness is unbearable and to think people have to take these decisions in real life is heartbreaking. What I learned playing this game is basically the same lesson I learned while playing Spent, taking risks is not necessarily a bad thing. Another lesson I learned was to keep your loved ones close because this is your only way of getting through a difficult situation. (The family kept close together in the cold water for warmth until they got rescued). The game manages to raise awareness and takes you through the choices people have to make, however, one way to improve this game is to ask for age as well as gender because I think then answers will differ. A teenage female will not take the same decisions as a mother for example.

The first professionally created game I played was September 7th, 2020 by Cait S. Kirby and while playing this game I also had this sense of helplessness because the university is so focused on returning to campus that they aren’t listening to anyone or taking anyone’s opinion. I also felt neglected because there are no options that seem to make the day go better and there is no one to talk to. I have learned a very important lesson while playing this game and it is to always be grateful and thankful for the position you are in. I have also learned that no matter how bad your day might be going, someone will probably have it worse, so as much as university days might be long and your schedule is very tight and you are sleep deprived and you just want to give up, remember that there’s this person on a wheelchair and has a stutter that goes through this just like you and there’s a person with serious health issues that goes through this just like you, but their lives are so different. I played the “Undergraduate student” part of the game and one thing I would change in this game would be the addition of images.

The second professionally created game I played was Sleep Deprived Mom by Professor Maha Bali and while playing this game I felt selfless since I always chose what would be best for my child even if it means that I will lose sleep. I also felt confused because even after thinking you are doing what is best for your child, something is always wrong. For example I thought giving my child juice would be the trick that leads to a good night sleep, however needing to brush my child’s teeth again and them wetting the bed was not ideal, in fact it was a little overwhelming. I have learned while playing this game that our parents went through a lot while we were little and this in fact was their reality but this doesn’t change their unconditional love, I personally thanked my mother for everything she’s done for me after playing this game and showed her my appreciation. One thing I would change about this game would be if it was a storyline and your answers affect how it goes instead of all the questions being separate.

The fourth game I played was student created and it was Special Olympics and while playing this game I felt motivated. I wanted my child to fit in and I wanted my child to be the same and participate in the same activities as normal children but this wouldn’t work on some occasions where they couldn’t handle being compared to other children at training. While playing this game I learned that hard work and perseverance will pay off, my child ended up winning a gold medal because both of us didn’t give up. I also learned that children with special needs do need some extra effort and so I learned how hard their parents work. One thing I would add to change this game would be the addition of an extra option so that there is somewhat a freedom of choice.

The final game I played was also student created, Orphan By Heart made me feel blessed and grateful and reminded me of the blessings I have, however, I felt uncomfortable since I felt that the purpose of the game is to make me feel bad for what I have and this is definitely something I would change about the game.

My overall experience of playing these games was very positive since I was reminded how tough other people’s lives must be, it was also very humbling to be able to take your own choices and I feel this created a true connection between myself and the situation. Each game was different from the other but I felt that Special Olympics and Sleep Deprived Mom are somewhat connected since in both games I am a parent and I have to put my child first and my decisions were taken mainly considering my child’s wellbeing first and mine second, this is not the case while playing Orphan By Heart because the scenario there was that children do not know who their parents are. There was also a connection between September 7th, 2020 and Special Olympics since both discuss those with special needs. The difference that is evident between each game is that it seems that physical disabilities are more disregarded which is disappointing. Spent and BBC Syrian Refugees are very similar in the money part of the game and also in the manner of being able to survive, they are the harshest out of the five games since there is no way out of being financially drained and there is no way of surviving a capsized boat in the middle of the sea, however in other games, there is a way out of tough situations that do not lead to a financial struggle or death.

2 thoughts on “Digital Narrative Games

  1. Love your nuanced reflection Aly, and I tweeted your blog because I am grateful that my game led you to thank your mom 💕. Btw you played 6 games not 5 😀.
    Also thanks for making me realize the value of playing the games again at home and not just in class. I don’t always ask students to do that, but will do so in future inshallah.


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