Digital Narrative Games

I played a total of 6 games: 2 in class which were Spent and Syrian Refugee and 4 at home which were Female Fighter, Domestic Violence in Egypt, Defying Gender Roles and Being Under the Influence. All of the games were really eye-opening and I liked how they all tackled issues in our society that may be considered taboo or controversial.

Spent was a really heartbreaking game because I was able to understand how fortunate I am which may be something that I took for granted over the years. Throughout the game I felt very stressed like when one weight was removed off my shoulders, 10 replaced it. It was never ending and I began to think of my father and how he must feel knowing the responsibilities and priorities that he carries daily. During the game, I felt I needed to choose wisely so that I would have enough money to pay the bills or any unexpected expenses. However, focusing on the responsibilities took away from my humanity. I began to make myself walk to work, eat canned soup and would not help a friend out because I knew I would need this money. It opened my eyes to the fact that there must be a balance between saving money and taking care of yourself and others around you. One does not substitute the other. One suggestion to improve in the game would be to include factual information after every decision to allow players to understand the magnification of such issues.

Syrian Refugee was a game that evoked much more than empathy but also fear and made me realize how dangerous the world we live in is. Again, every game made me aware of how fortunate I am but this time it was not being thankful for my current finances. It was being thankful for my family and being together. Playing the game, I really felt alone. There was that sense of isolation that came with the vibes of the game from the content to the design. The decisions I had to take were really hard such as going back to save someone from drowning or letting go of my family. I chose empathy over selfishness but that made me end up in a refugee camp in Turkey alone while my family arrived safely. Playing this game, I learned the extent that a person can go to protect their family or themselves. It showed me how our nature as humans is to always find safety and when something threatens that we must fight our way through it. One suggestion to improve in the game is that it is too quick to end your life which might be the truth but the game is too short that it loses its effect on a person.

When I first read the title of the game, I immediately thought it would be like a women empowerment kind of game especially with the simplicity and delicacy of the design of the slides. The game was eye-opening and I could relate personally because they really depicted the daily struggles of being a female in Egypt. However, one aspect of the game that really affected me was that it was too negative. I understand that this subject is very controversial and many may have different perspectives and opinions but it seemed that they believed that the only valid option was to file a police report. Then, they would tell you, they won’t do anything about it. They’re right but when having such a power and creating a game that could go viral and reach people, the least you can do is give them hope. I felt hopeless while playing, like a toy being passed around from one person to the other or from one subject to the other and it made me think less of myself because if you cannot even help yourself, who will you help?

I think this specific game struck me the most because I have been surrounded with similar situations in my life that have really changed who I wanted to surround myself with and where I would like to be seen and go in public. I think peer pressure was one thing that was really highlighted in this game and I have encountered many situations in my life where it showed me the drastic effects that peer pressure can do. To me, the options were kind of limited in that there were things that I thought of that were not in the options to choose from. It was either this or that which is not normally the case. I understand it is for the sake of the game but it forced me to decide to go home “humiliated” instead of conforming to party norms. I do not see any humiliation in the idea of choosing my own well-ness over something against my beliefs.

I really like this game because it was so light compared to the darkness that came with the other games. Yes, it does tackle important issues in regards to gender but it was able to capture it in a light and fun way. To be honest, playing this game, I felt like I could not relate. I have 3 sisters so growing up, my mom and dad made sure we understood how our society tries to belittle women and take their voices away from them and they made sure our voices were never taken. The game highlighted marriage, education, toys and social constructs. In terms of education, my father has always pushed us to succeed and to want more for ourselves which would eventually push away marriage for a few years. I really did not like the ending of the game that because I chose to focus on my career instead of marriage, “society had its effect on me” and that either I could get married now but children will be hard or I can be the “independent woman” who defies these social ideologies. It was too stereotypical that it kind of took away from the importance of the game.

Domestic Violence in Egypt was a really factual game that provided the players with an in-depth understanding of such an important topic. Playing this game, I felt hopeful, it gave you a way out of a toxic relationship. It never shut the door in your face like Female Fighter. I learned how widespread this epidemic is and that it can hit close to home in any second because no one is an exemption especially when our society justifies such behavior. To be honest, I would not change anything about this game.



4 thoughts on “Digital Narrative Games”

  1. Thanks Malak.. looks like you ended up choosing all of the 4 additional games from games created by other students (rather than professional games). I think your observations about limitations of some of the games are quite astute and we should keep these things in mind when creating our own games.


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