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Suicide as a major subject in my games. What do you think?


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#1 Mr.Noname   Members   -  Reputation: 120

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 09:36 PM

Not preventing it, but instead having characters commit it to advance the story. I've suffered from depression all my life (I am 22), and death is always on my mind. So I think putting the subject in my games will be a good form of expression. I will be making these games out of passion and love, and I hope to hit a chord with others who feel like myself.

The first game would take place on a non-human planet full of dispair, and everyone hates humanity as a whole while suffering in their own existence. The main player is an orphan (whos parents killed themselves) who comes from a poor area and is recruited to commit the genocide of an ecsaped cybernetic race on another planet, in the ultimate war machine. At the end of his mission he is killed so the army can say he stole the piece of technology to commit his racial war, but they activated the self destruct mechinism after it was "too late".

The next game is split between him as a ghost in the ship and another character as they explore the manicly depressed planet. The character in the ship destroys things for fun and commits suicide to end his misery, but he ends up in another plane of existence, never finding the oblivion he seeks. The other character eventually finds the creator of the cybernetic technology who kills himself in a way to make the army think the race sent an assassin to kill him so they would use their resources to seek out the servivors using their war machines and not fight other nations on the planet.

Theres another game, but it isnt as focused on suicide like the others. It is just to tie up the story of course, and has its own theme in it as well.

What do you think of suicide as a major subject in a game? In my games and others as well. Should there be more games with suicides, or none at all? Is it too negative, or is it not touched upon enough?

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#2 Heath   Members   -  Reputation: 344

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 09:58 PM

How much would you charge?

#3 Mr.Noname   Members   -  Reputation: 120

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 07:54 AM

Im not sure how much it would be if I did charge anything, depends on how long it takes to make it or how hard it is to get everything to work perfectly.

#4 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 28409

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 08:10 AM

Suicide was used as a minor game mechanic in Fahrenheit / Indigo Prophecy - it was an adventure/story game where you played the roles of many different characters in different chapters - e.g. you played as a murder suspect, but were also in control of the detectives hunting him in other scenes.
Every character had a psychological state-of-mind meter and for some characters, hitting the bottom of this meter would cause them to commit suicide, which ended the story prematurely ("game over").
It was was a pretty minor feature, as it was easy to maintain decent mental health for all characters, but it was an interesting way to encourage you to balance all of your actions. The game also had a character who had to overcome their claustrophobia, and tried to touch upon some interpersonal relationship themes.
Real social issues, such as mental health, aren't touched upon often enough in games, so IMHO a respectful integration into your plot would be welcome by many.

Edited by Hodgman, 20 August 2012 - 08:13 AM.


#5 Mr.Noname   Members   -  Reputation: 120

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 11:09 AM

Real social issues, such as mental health, aren't touched upon often enough in games, so IMHO a respectful integration into your plot would be welcome by many.

Yeah I wanted to play Indigo Prophecy, but never got to so I didnt know that feature.

"Respectful" is a matter Im worried about with how some will see the game, theres no way to stop the characters from committing it. I see if the game becomes an underground hit some parents will blame the game for their kids suicides, which is a weird thing to have to talk about from my side.

The real point of the game is that life is pointless and painful for some and they end up doing things that are violent and pointless. Im sick of the usual good guy winning over evil, or the antihero gets what he wants and lives to be something in his world, in games. Im not trying to promote suicide as a good thing for depressed people to do. Im saying instead that it happens and it doesnt matter what you think of it if youre not the person who commits it.

#6 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4652

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 01:49 PM

Depression and suicide are worthwhile topics that could be explored in a game. But I'm not sure a "non-human planet full of despair" where suicide is common is the way to go. You don't want to over-simplify the topic into a fairy tale or alienate it from the audience, because feeling of being unwanted, betrayed, in pain, not wanting to go on... all that stuff is at the core of what it means to be human, and is also very personal. At least, that's how I see it. Internal, emotional and mental issues are usually best explored in fiction through the experience of one or a few characters in highly-individualized circumstances, not a planet of people who are all similar. "Racial personality" set-ups are usually more for issues of politics and external philosophical issues like "man vs. nature" or more simplistic morals like "violence doesn't solve problems, and in fact the more violent people there are involved the more problems they make".

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#7 Mr.Noname   Members   -  Reputation: 120

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 03:02 PM

I see your point sunandshadow. SInce it says to give a synopsis of the plot and not make a huge mountain of text I did leave out things that would explain the reason why everyone is depressed and other things.

I dont know if I should go on a diatribe on my thoughts leading to this idea for a game series, but making them aliens has to do with any author or game designer who makes a story with aliens who are really reflections of humanity. Im taking that and going in a different direction. I also dont want the story to be about people because then someone playing will say "oh, humans dont act like that, no one could do that, ect." Even wild animals have the same emotions as people. Humanity is so sad and happy at the same time, it just depends on what you look at on tv or whats occuring in your life. With humans our dna says to progress the species, but these aliens dont have that hardwired into them. Im taking this thing thats apart of me (depression) and Im putting it somewhere else so I can explore it outside a human influence as best I can. Then Im gonna put it out in the open and see what others think of it.

This is a lot to talk about, haha.

#8 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4652

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 08:26 PM

I also dont want the story to be about people because then someone playing will say "oh, humans dont act like that"

Well, personally I'd say that when designing aliens, one wants people to be thinking "oh, I really feel for these aliens because they act just like humans". I've read stories that make me really care about a depressed or suicidal character and empathize with their thoughts and feelings. But I think this kind of audience empathy is much easier to build with an individual character than with a whole race or species, where it's much harder to suspend one's disbelief and take the concept seriously. Also when trying to present a theme in any kind of fiction, including games, generally you want to have a cast of characters that illustrate contrasting rhetorical positions. A character who is depressed works best in contrast to a character who isn't. It's like stand-up comedy, where you really need a "straight man" for the comedian to play off of.

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#9 Mr.Noname   Members   -  Reputation: 120

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 02:31 PM

In the second game itll be kinda like another type of person to contrast the depression. A single survivor of the genocide makes it to the planet and thats when you actually see the world and these ideas of a depressed race come more into play.

#10 KidsLoveSatan   Members   -  Reputation: 469

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 10:54 AM

Another game, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, the intro shows the main character committing suicide with the actual game showing what lead up to his insanity.

#11 jefferytitan   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1913

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 03:08 PM

This may be different for arbitrary aliens, but a-study-that-I-pulled-out-of-my-ass said that cheerfulness/depression are roughly 90% disposition and 10% circumstances in the long term. So an entire suicidally depressed species.... sounds like a Darwinian fail just for starters. Unless it's a recent thing which is reinforced by culture/religion and those in power, it sounds very unlikely and also unlikely to cause much sympathy. It's like that friend who complains every day, even if they win the lottery.

In general I think it's a topic worth exploring, but if you overdo the darkness it could either come across as hamming it up, or reinforce the attitude of depressed people who think it's not all worth it. Please carefully think what message your work is saying when touching on such a sensitive topic.

#12 a Smith   Members   -  Reputation: 135

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 06:23 PM

I'm a little bit confused on how this plot deals with suicide. In the first game it's simply a background note--the main character's parents both comitted suicide. How integral are they to the main storyline? After all, the main character from game one doesn't commit suicide, he's simply murdered. I do like the idea of the character being forced to commit such an outrageous act, but this leads me to ponder Orson Scott Card's series beginning with Ender's Game, and I think an audience would be more intrigued with how the main character deals with his own horrific acts (and not the corrupt millitary).

In your second game, the one in which a PC actually commits suicide, you've presented us with an entirely different conundrum. Character B is psycopathic, and finds joy in using his spaceship to destroy things (which I can sort of understand as a way of using entertainment to distract from the constant emptiness of depression). Maybe with more details I could come to understand this character better, but as it stands he/she simply seems deranged. It's like trying to relate to someone who brutally murders their family and then commits suicide.

I tend to agree with Sunandshadow that it feels like you're sort of alienating your audience right from the start, but I believe you misunderstood her point. The issue is not that your characters are aliens--people can relate to all sorts of things just fine (Avatar, Wall-E, and, my favorite example, Journey). In Journey the characters are only vaguely humanoid, and their technology is fantastically magical, but the reflection of our own world is obvious (even without a single line of text). Journey also addresses the idea of death and rebirth to an extent (which seems like what your game is really about, the suicide is merely incidental). I believe what will really alienate your audience is just how much focus you seem to want to place on these horrific planets--they're nightmare worlds, of course everyone who lives on them wants to die. Yes, our world is certainly tragic, but only the blindest cynic would consider it as hopeless as these mirror worlds you have suggested.

The concept of making suicide a part of the game is interesting, certainly, but if you really want to get something relatable that will make your audience think (instead of simply having the chance to offend them) you need to tone down the absolute despair. Make a character your audience can sympathise with.

I think you should also consider what comes after suicide. To me it sounds like you are punishing your characters, raging against someone who is willing to give in. Why can't suicide be the unsettling blackness? Isn't the fact that your character chose suicide sad enough without them having to fall into Dante's Inferno?

Edited by a Smith, 27 August 2012 - 06:26 PM.


#13 bvanevery   Members   -  Reputation: 174

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 07:37 AM

I'm thinking you need to do one game instead of two or three. Aside from being a recipe for not actually getting anything done, multiple stories or one epic sprawling story is a symptom that you haven't nailed what your story is about. Work on getting to the core of what's thematically important about suicide for your purposes. You need to cut stuff out that's distracting and isn't core. In a screenplay for a film, for example, the screenwriter usually has only 90 minutes or so to make his points. So he's gotta choose the best points, cut down on the complexity, and not get lost in the delivery.

What are the consequences of suicide? From an atheist perspective, you don't get to be alive anymore. There isn't some purgatory to keep on angsting about your problems. There's nothing wrong with writing about purgatories, but you should probably be conscious of how that will affect the suspension of disbelief for some members of the audience. Similarly, some religious people believe you go to heaven or hell. Others believe that you reincarnate. If that's what they believe, then they come to your work with those preconceptions. How will you deal with the consequence of death? What is important for you as an author to say about that? Answering those questions, probably gives you 50% of what your story needs to do right there.

The other big obvious one is, what are the realities of depression? That's a difficult subject, because lots of people don't like to watch films that make them depressed. Not sure if the same problem exists in games. Can a game make you depressed, if you're actively doing something in the game? Bored, certainly, but depressed? You don't have to write a depression simulator, but it'll be interesting to see how you deal with the realities of depression, in a medium where most people think you're supposed to be having "fun."

Now I will recommend a specific film that's about a suicide, reincarnation, and a lot of other weirdness: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives . If you can figure out where there's a game in that sort of thing, well, you'd have something.
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#14 Mr.Noname   Members   -  Reputation: 120

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 06:22 PM

Sorry for the late replies, Ive been busy with other things.

sounds like a Darwinian fail just for starters.

Darwin only studied species on our planet, a different planet would have completely different types of species.

Maybe with more details I could come to understand this character better, but as it stands he/she simply seems deranged. It's like trying to relate to someone who brutally murders their family and then commits suicide.

Yeah I have left out details of the plot that ties into things better. I didnt want the text to be mountains big like the sticky post said to avoid.

I believe what will really alienate your audience is just how much focus you seem to want to place on these horrific planets--they're nightmare worlds, of course everyone who lives on them wants to die. Yes, our world is certainly tragic, but only the blindest cynic would consider it as hopeless as these mirror worlds you have suggested.

Well thats the point, it is a different planet. Of course thinking of this kind of world came from an outlook on life here, but its a different planet with a different type of species on it.

Ill give another detail about the species that I didnt before. The way they reproduce is painful, no bliss in the end comes from copulating. They dont get the simple pleasures of sexuality or love like we do.

I think you should also consider what comes after suicide. To me it sounds like you are punishing your characters, raging against someone who is willing to give in. Why can't suicide be the unsettling blackness? Isn't the fact that your character chose suicide sad enough without them having to fall into Dante's Inferno?

Again, I didnt tell the plot of the 3rd game because I didnt know how many people would reply if they just saw a whole bunch of text at first.
In the third game the main character makes it back to his reality and goes to his planet to destroy it. Thats skimming that part of the plot, but he does t least get some joy in the end. Him going from reality to reality in the ship is causing dimensional tears which will cause the end of existence. Bleak storyline, but I hope to make up for that with the gameplay.

I'm thinking you need to do one game instead of two or three.

The games wont have a big budget, so Ill have to devide the storyline in to 3 parts and make each after the other. The story is sad, but the game play will be good shoot em up action and other types as well. I dont want to make a game thats depressing and boring to play.

If that's what they believe, then they come to your work with those preconceptions. How will you deal with the consequence of death?

Im not trying to really make a religious commentary, and Im not trying to make a medium where people will go to so they can reinforce their outlooks on things while being all smiles and complacent. Ill check out that film.

#15 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 28409

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 10:57 PM

a-study-that-I-pulled-out-of-my-ass said that cheerfulness/depression are roughly 90% disposition and 10% circumstances in the long term. So an entire suicidally depressed species.... sounds like a Darwinian fail just for starters. Unless it's a recent thing which is reinforced by culture

The incidence of depression in the 1st world is up to 25% from 20% a few years ago and still rising. It's a mainstream disorder these days, just like obesity. You're not far off calling Humanity a Darwinian fail.

#16 jefferytitan   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1913

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 04:02 AM

I hope my comment didn't fall into the internet curse of lack of context. I'm not minimizing depression etc. I just mean that the creature that is too depressed to run away from the lion gets eaten. Depression as we understand it is a pretty negative trait for natural selection, unless it's inextricably linked to being a genius, superhumanly strong, etc. One can imagine an arbitrarily odd situation where a suicidal nature is a positive, e.g. once an individual is past breeding age it ends it all to reduce competition for food, or to kamikaze kill predators, or where death is the only way to breed. But in general I would say that survival is most likely to happen if one wants to survive. A society can support the weight of a minority who are depressed or unwell, but if the overwhelming majority want to end it all... I don't see how anything would ever get done.Why the entire society wouldn't celebrate "suicide sunday".

#17 shadowomf   Members   -  Reputation: 315

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Posted 13 October 2012 - 02:09 AM

Hello,

I think it's great that you're trying to create a game with more depth.
Especially that you're not just using such a topic to shock.

However one thing you should be aware of is copycat suicide (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copycat_suicide).
There are some guidelines to reduce this effect.

I'm not saying you shouldn't make your game or change it dramatically. Just be aware of it.

#18 rem3017   Members   -  Reputation: 113

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 01:20 PM

You have to remember that successful stories are formulaic. there can be no action without conflict. if suicide is the action, what exactly is the conflict? what is happening that is causing the depression? As other people above have already stated, a world where people are recreationally committing suicide is not relatable. It would help if you provided some context to the story. One of the biggest factors that effects the tone of the story is the setting. Is it a dystopic world? a world full of poverty and disease? is there a virus running rampant or a crazy abusive dictatorship? Even if you are on a completely foreign planet where the aliens walk with their hair and feed on gas produced by toxic rivers of mercury, the setting is still important.

As crazy as it sounds, suicide is actually a very dynamic plot device. Suicide is often used as a form of self-sacrifice, however i'm guessing that's not exactly what you had in mind. It can also be used to enforce a point or to slam an exclamation point on a story arc. As referenced by Bioshock, Andrew Ryan's "would you kindly" sequence, while it was technically an assisted suicide, it was a hugely successful plot twist, because the action dramatically shifted your perception of the story. Another form of suicide is the ever popular "going down with guns blazing" where the protagonist knowingly faces unbeatable odds fully knowing he has no chance. It's part of the "die on my feet rather then live on my knees" or the "i know i'm going down, so i'm gonna take as many of you with me" mentality. As referenced by the end of the anime Cowboy Bebop.

I am a very strong advocate of killing off my characters in very dramatic ways, however i live by the philosophy that no death is wasted. when a named character is killed, or dies purely for the sake of gratuitous death, the action is empty and has no power. As mentioned above by another poster, the suicide should have some sort of consequence to give it any meaning. Or if you choose not to go down that path, you need to make the suicide so memorable that the player is the one that needs to feel something. You could make the game about the player interacting with a physical manifestation of it's depression eventually leading to suicide, in which case the depression itself is the conflict, rather than the result of it's surroundings.

some food for thought.

#19 rem3017   Members   -  Reputation: 113

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 01:35 PM

You could also use suicide as a sort of game mechanic, you could play with the idea of rebirth, or if you're so inclined you could have each death strengthening the madness or depression of the character

#20 DaveTroyer   Members   -  Reputation: 1052

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 12:21 PM

This is just my opinion, and though it may be a strong one, I'm not trying to offend you; just asking that you take more serious consideration than what I've read so far.

I think you should reevaluate suicide as a major plot device.

From what I've read in this topic, suicide is being used to tie up lose ends, not as a real aspect of the game, a plot device, or even handled with a bit of civility or respect.

Take Mr.NoName's second game for example. The ghost of the player controls the ship to destroy a world "for fun" and then "commits suicide to end his misery." It seems rather contradictory and in bad taste. If the player or even the ghost is in control of their actions on the ship and "having fun" why would they then drop into a deep depression and make the choice to end it all?
Break it into a more base level. If you were playing Space Invaders and after you beat the level, you told the player to walk away and end the game instead of continuing. I think would send conflicting messages to the player and also if you just end up "rewarding" them with suicide, you're glamorizing suicide, which many, including myself, take offence at. It may get you some shock fame, but that fades and you won't be taken seriously ever after that.

As someone that has experienced lose due to suicide, I know very well that it's a touchy topic and one that many are afraid to approach. And though I feel that suicide and mental illness are topics that need to be talked about and even explored in interactive media to help spread awareness, I think it needs to be at a much more sincere level than what Mr.NoName has purposed.

If someone makes a choice to use suicide as a serious part of a game, then I think it should be handled with respect and in depth, real knowledge on the subject. If you plan on having any real future in the video game industry, something that is handled so poorly could be such a blemish that you never work on anything in any real capacity again.

Edited by DaveTroyer, 16 October 2012 - 12:22 PM.

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