Sunday, December 30, 2012

An idea for a game based on the 5 stages of grief.

Just had an idea that I had to share. A game idea. One for kids. Its sketchy at best but its more of a teaching tool than something for adults.

You play as a kid, selectable boy or girl, with an adult AI character, selectable man or woman depending on the person that was lost. For a few hours, having experiences with the adult and learning to trust them. Safety, happiness, and bright colors are the themes from the start. Puzzles are easy, hints are plenty, and reassuring comments are abundant.
Then during one of the levels, the adult's gone. The character goes through the 5 stages of grief through themed levels.

Denial: The player finds their way back to the beginning of the first level while the colors gradually fade. The kid thinks they're okay on their own but the levels they went through with the adult are now hard or impossible to complete. There are no hints, the character is left alone.

Anger: This can either be done through the character they play, a change in the levels color schemes, or conjured as emotion through the player. They meet other adult characters that are downtrodden, always looking down, and never listen to the player's instructions. None of them work well, they don't seem to understand the puzzles and walk away at times. The character in turn gets mad and the movement is faster.

Bargaining: This is done in the same instance as anger. Switching out the adult they trusted with someone else. They start to long for the original adult and will subtly ask the others if they can go find the original. Replacement adults show the wrong kind of sympathy, leading the character to...

Depression: They can't have the original adult back and suddenly new puzzles are introduced. These can't be solved. None of them. Character visibly gets sad and the overall color scheme turns blue and the character's walk slows.

Acceptance. Returning to a backtracking section of the level, the character comes across something that helps them solve one of the puzzles. At the end of that puzzle is something that helps them solve another (a map, a tool, etc.). This is done several times until the last. During these puzzles the colors slowly change back to normal. The player feels as though they can accomplish things on their own.

At the end of the last puzzle, the character comes out into bright sunlight with a smile on their face and the smiling faces of the replacement adults. They realize now that they can do whatever it takes by themselves and they can learn to move forward with life.

The idea is sketchy because I feel like not all of the levels should involve puzzles. Maybe building things too and that requires one of the adults but none of them want to help. It can most definitely be improved on but I'd like to see it happen. It wouldn't have to be played by kids who are going through a tough time, it could be used to prepare them for IF one of those tough times come.

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