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#1 Romario94   Members   -  Reputation: 139

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 06:26 AM

Hi fellow game designers / developers,

I would love to hear about any ideas that you guys have for a video game that will focuses around a main character who suffered low-functioning autistic spectrum disorder. I'm currently ideating a first-person video game that would have a gameplay and mechanics that is inspired by autism symptoms.

Autistic symptoms may include hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity towards the surroundings, OCD, over-agitated / excited over particular objects, uncontrollable body movements, and anything else that you could mention.

If anybody has brilliant ideas on creating an emotionally engaging experience based on these theme, I would be glad to hear it from you guys.

 

Additional info:

The main objective of this game is trying to engage the player to 'empathize' and feel the life of an autistic person through first person perspective.


Edited by Romario94, 15 October 2013 - 09:27 AM.


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#2 Shane C   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1108

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 06:32 AM

Autistic person saves the world.

(Sorry, I need a bit more info on what you're searching for.)

#3 ShadowFlar3   Members   -  Reputation: 1252

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 07:47 AM

I read the subtext that you want to shed some light on the world of autism and make other people understand what being autistic is like?

 

I would like to warn you about a common pitfall usually concerning educational games. You shouldn't push the autism forward too strongly, otherwise people think your sole goal is to manipulate their thoughts and either build an anti-reaction to what you're trying to convey or don't develop interest in the game at all. 

 

I think the best way to proceed is not to make the game revolve around autism as if it was a "documentary film" but simply include it as a side theme in otherwise compelling game. Autistic people are normal people with autism, so game about autism should be considered a normal game with autism.

 

In other words you could treat autism as one of the features of your main character that of course somehow affects the gameplay. As long as you don't define your story starting point or conflict through autism (alone) I see it could improve many game genres because It justifies using some strong shader effects and gameplay mechanics without immediately converting the entire game to supernatural style. Somehow the first style that comes to my mind is horror/mystery/puzzle adventure but that might just be me. smile.png

 

So how do you go about making it happen? Put the autism aside for a while and start developing an interesting story with conflict and characters that link to it. Then bring the autism to the table and try to make it interact with different components interestingly.


Edited by ShadowFlar3, 15 October 2013 - 07:48 AM.


#4 Shane C   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1108

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 08:14 AM

In other words you could treat autism as one of the features of your main character that of course somehow affects the gameplay. As long as you don't define your story starting point or conflict through autism (alone) I see it could improve many game genres because It justifies using some strong shader effects and gameplay mechanics without immediately converting the entire game to supernatural style. Somehow the first style that comes to my mind is horror/mystery/puzzle adventure but that might just be me.


I really don't think this is a good idea, to focus heavily on the side effects of autism as a gameplay mechanic. Rather than shed light on autism, people will interpret it as making fun of it. About all you can do without offending people is make a game where a person struggling against autism, as a simple story element, overcomes it and does something great.

#5 ShadowFlar3   Members   -  Reputation: 1252

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 09:12 AM

 

I really don't think this is a good idea, to focus heavily on the side effects of autism as a gameplay mechanic. 

 

 

My entire post was about why I think this is a good idea.

 

 Rather than shed light on autism, people will interpret it as making fun of it.

 

Based on what? This will not happen if you know how to write and especially if the person in charge knows anything about autism as I suspect they do.

 

 About all you can do without offending people is make a game where a person struggling against autism, as a simple story element, overcomes it and does something great.

 

My entire post was also about why I think this starting point in particular is bad. Story focused on autism is bad. You are degrading a normal person with autism to a person with nothing but autism. Assuming this is what game about autism has to be is very inconsiderate and naive. And if autism is the only point to your game people will think "I'm not interested in learning about autism so I'm not interested in this game" and nobody will play it.

 

If you feel like you want to contradict everything I write then please go through addressing all of which I say. I'm not interested in arguing about the matter in depth with someone who posts one liners without backing up anything.



#6 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9049

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 10:02 AM


1. I really don't think this is a good idea, to focus heavily on the side effects of autism as a gameplay mechanic.

2. Rather than shed light on autism, people will interpret it as making fun of it.

3. About all you can do without offending people is make a game where a person struggling against autism, as a simple story element, overcomes it and does something great.

 

1. I disagree.

2. I disagree that it necessarily will turn out that way.

3. Taking into consideration the words I crossed out (because I disagree with them), that idea sounds fine, but isn't very clear.


-- Tom Sloper
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Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#7 Shane C   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1108

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 11:01 AM

1. I really don't think this is a good idea, to focus heavily on the side effects of autism as a gameplay mechanic.
2. Rather than shed light on autism, people will interpret it as making fun of it.
3. About all you can do without offending people is make a game where a person struggling against autism, as a simple story element, overcomes it and does something great.

 
1. I disagree.
2. I disagree that it necessarily will turn out that way.
3. Taking into consideration the words I crossed out (because I disagree with them), that idea sounds fine, but isn't very clear.

Hi.

I consider your opinion to hold quite a bit of weight because for one, you seem to be an industry professional in certain areas, and two, you are a mod, and I observe that the best members of the community tend to get picked for staff positions.

However, I have had the mental illness which is schizophrenia, which is now treated. If someone made a game about a schizophrenic guy where they see hallucinations and have to fight through it, I would kind of dislike the game for two reasons:

1. It would not accurately represent every schizophrenic.
2. I would not want to play through what I already have experienced.

It's a very delicate subject for people that have already experienced these things, and if you want to appeal to them, or at least me, you have to be careful with this subject.

#8 AngleWyrm   Members   -  Reputation: 554

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 11:10 AM

Autistic Spectrum Disorder

  • Prefer being alone, seem aloof; they are self-sufficient on a social needs scale. Frequently don't understand emotional communication.
  • Focus on expertise in a narrow skill set; they repeat known, comfortable behaviors, and become quite good at them.
  • Prefer night to day; often have trouble sleeping at night, and are not 'morning people.'
  • Often have heightened senses; experience pain at loud noises, displeasure at potent flavors, prefer cloudy days to sunshine, etc

So an idea for your game about Autism is they are the noctournal genetic variant of Homo Sapiens. They are designed to operate alone in the dark. They are cats and regular people are dogs.


Edited by AngleWyrm, 15 October 2013 - 11:19 AM.

--"I'm not at home right now, but" = lights on, but no ones home

#9 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9049

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 01:12 PM


It's a very delicate subject for people that have already experienced these things, and if you want to appeal to them, or at least me, you have to be careful with this subject.

 

The subject, like many, deserves treatment with sensitivity. That doesn't mean, does it, that an attempt to tackle it should be discouraged?


-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#10 ShadowFlar3   Members   -  Reputation: 1252

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 01:35 PM

 


It's a very delicate subject for people that have already experienced these things, and if you want to appeal to them, or at least me, you have to be careful with this subject.

 

The subject, like many, deserves treatment with sensitivity. That doesn't mean, does it, that an attempt to tackle it should be discouraged?

 

 

Indeed.

 

Lots of hard subjects have been handled well. One example about movies is Memento (#36 on IMDB top movies) which dealt with short-term memory loss. I don't want to spoil the movie to those who haven't seen it, but overall:

 

The condition is very strongly present in mechanics of the movie but still the story elements (the conflict, the solution, etc) have nothing to do with it. Memory loss is just something that directs the flow of events. The themes present are revenge, gullibility, deceit, morale and these can be considered what the movie is "a lesson of" rather than just "memory loss". I can't imagine anybody with this condition feeling offended by it.

 

 


So an idea for your game about Autism is they are the noctournal genetic variant of Homo Sapiens. They are designed to operate alone in the dark. They are cats and regular people are dogs.

 

I really like this idea. It takes sci-fi and creative turn rather than patronizing and adds mystery and a chance to explain. It's not yet a story but you could weave this idea in whatever you already have if it fits the style.



#11 mippy   Members   -  Reputation: 1002

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 02:21 PM

I appreciate your efforts in using games as a platform to deliver a message. But what message do you want to provide?

 

I just made up my own categories here to help you clarify: 

  • therapeutic games - should be developed with scientists. I know folks with other issues such as dyslexia, ADHD and social phobia has "mini-games" in which they can train on very specific tasks (like memory, sounding words etc.) or in the case of phobia - cognitive therapy in a gamification format (you get scores by completing challenges). 
  • informational games - educating others of how it can be to have issues with this. An example is http://www.kongregate.com/games/jordanmagnuson/loneliness which translates the feeling of loneliness into a little "non-game" as he calls it. 
  • comforting games - games which people with issues can play where they can feel familiarity with the protagonists, where the UI and in-game experiences have been adjusted/adapted to any deficiencies and things which they might find disturbing.

The thing is each of these games requires their own approaches (educated, emotional/artsy and general game development for a specific user group)



#12 Romario94   Members   -  Reputation: 139

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 08:00 PM

I appreciate your efforts in using games as a platform to deliver a message. But what message do you want to provide?

 

I just made up my own categories here to help you clarify: 

  • therapeutic games - should be developed with scientists. I know folks with other issues such as dyslexia, ADHD and social phobia has "mini-games" in which they can train on very specific tasks (like memory, sounding words etc.) or in the case of phobia - cognitive therapy in a gamification format (you get scores by completing challenges). 
  • informational games - educating others of how it can be to have issues with this. An example is http://www.kongregate.com/games/jordanmagnuson/loneliness which translates the feeling of loneliness into a little "non-game" as he calls it. 
  • comforting games - games which people with issues can play where they can feel familiarity with the protagonists, where the UI and in-game experiences have been adjusted/adapted to any deficiencies and things which they might find disturbing.

The thing is each of these games requires their own approaches (educated, emotional/artsy and general game development for a specific user group)

Perhaps it's going to be a hybrid between informational and comforting games. Since one of the autistic symptoms is that they tend to have short attention span and experience hard time on focusing on things, I was thinking that the UI (like the map in GTA) can be tweaked throughout the game, in which there would be times where the destination objectives would be altered; worldview would be blurred; player wouldn't be able to control when they encountered certain object and stuff.

 

A member suggested not to revolves around autistic symptoms as the gameplay, but as part of the story.  (Like Ethan Mars in Heavy Rain who suffered long term depression after Jason's death) I'm thinking about that too, but my main concern is to promote empathy towards the player on how autistic individuals would response towards their surrounding, without 'dehumanizing' these special people. 



#13 wodinoneeye   Members   -  Reputation: 701

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 08:13 PM

Do we have real understanding of how autistic people perceive  things ???   It sound like one of the ideas for the game is to try to install understanding in the players about what it is to those who have that condition.

 

How many different flavors are there that might be expressed??

 

In 3D the 'focus' where what the player views shifts from attention getting overview to zooming in to some object/subset  with exclusion of all else.  Somehow the compulsive fascination would have to be expressed to hold focus on a narrow subject (perhaps with only faint whispers of all else that is going on).

 

I dont know if the person starts visualizing not just the immediate subject but all the myriad  connections and associations/relations  which expand into view in their brain ...


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#14 Romario94   Members   -  Reputation: 139

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 08:47 PM

Do we have real understanding of how autistic people perceive  things ???   It sound like one of the ideas for the game is to try to install understanding in the players about what it is to those who have that condition.

 

How many different flavors are there that might be expressed??

 

In 3D the 'focus' where what the player views shifts from attention getting overview to zooming in to some object/subset  with exclusion of all else.  Somehow the compulsive fascination would have to be expressed to hold focus on a narrow subject (perhaps with only faint whispers of all else that is going on).

 

I dont know if the person starts visualizing not just the immediate subject but all the myriad  connections and associations/relations  which expand into view in their brain ...

Most of the info about autism is taken from first-person account academic journals, so the explanation are rather vivid and arguably reliable. Moreover, autism isn't confined and predetermined through lists of behaviors; but a spectral disorder. I would then, limit the main character, let's say "A" to experience five symptoms throughout the game.

 

These symptoms would be triggered when the A is within a range of the specified area / physical objects / audio objects. For example, the player will experience blurry vision and tight, high-frequency sounds when he approached rumbling machines, etc.

 

I am still thinking to have narrative structures that would surface the character's autistic syndromes, not just on the game mechanics / gameplay itself ; a game that deals with psychological instability that would turn out to be the core antagonistic element of the gameplay. It would not be another typical indie horror, anyway.



#15 AngleWyrm   Members   -  Reputation: 554

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Posted 16 October 2013 - 02:36 PM

Check out the comedy movie Hot Fuzz, by the same guys who did the recent World's End. The lead character in Hot Fuzz is a good example of someone with Autism.


--"I'm not at home right now, but" = lights on, but no ones home

#16 ShadowFlar3   Members   -  Reputation: 1252

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 02:04 AM

 A member suggested not to revolves around autistic symptoms as the gameplay, but as part of the story. I'm thinking about that too, but my main concern is to promote empathy towards the player on how autistic individuals would response towards their surrounding, without 'dehumanizing' these special people. 

 

I believe I covered some of field about what could go wrong about that.

 

But you can disregard my earlier advice if you end up doing it this way since it is usually my goal to make an "entertaining" game rather than "informational" or "comforting" and I misinterpreted your goal. Mipmap had a great post clearing out the issue to everyone. :)

 

I can just personally imagine a game on autism (or anything else of that nature) where the point was not to either make a game for autistic people or a game about autistic people. I personally think you could achieve wider sympathizing reaction on the public with an entertaining game that has autism as a mere feature.



#17 Hasmond   Members   -  Reputation: 143

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 01:47 PM

Hi fellow game designers / developers,

I would love to hear about any ideas that you guys have for a video game that will focuses around a main character who suffered low-functioning autistic spectrum disorder. I'm currently ideating a first-person video game that would have a gameplay and mechanics that is inspired by autism symptoms.

Autistic symptoms may include hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity towards the surroundings, OCD, over-agitated / excited over particular objects, uncontrollable body movements, and anything else that you could mention.

If anybody has brilliant ideas on creating an emotionally engaging experience based on these theme, I would be glad to hear it from you guys.

 

Additional info:

The main objective of this game is trying to engage the player to 'empathize' and feel the life of an autistic person through first person perspective.

 

Interesting take on a game, here is my idea for content;

 

-hyposensitivity towards the surroundings

 

Have it so that when you walk around your character gets "quick time events" that occour from time to time. I don't really know if the player should get a reward from completing them or how the player could be punished for failing them.

 

The idea is that they will be very annoying and distracting but the people around the player won't notice them. So the player will be put in the shoes of a person who reacts to things that other would find trivial.

 

- OCD

 

- interest in object

 

Make it so that the camera always moves to watch the object in question, the player will always need to look the other way but the camera will always slowly go watch the object again.

 

- body movements

 

Make it so that when you do trivial things like pouring a drink you might shake and spill a lot which you have to clean up. Or have it so that your arm might just lash out and hit somebody and then you have to talk your way out of it.

 

 

I think that by having the player controled character do actions that the player does not control the player will have a greater understanding of the plight many autists have.






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