Discover how acclaimed video games can build empathy
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Read the full live stream transcript here:
Megha: [00:05:04] All right. Hello, everyone, and welcome to another chaos theory livestream. I was just going to wait for a little bit for people to join the chat, but for anyone who is joining right now, my name is Megha. I'm the marketing assistant here at Chaos Theory Games. I'm joined with Nico and James. Guys, please introduce yourselves.
Nico: [00:05:26] I am Nico. I'm one of the co-founders and James is also co-founder. And I handle a lot of the game design and kind of creative direction on our projects and just generally passionate about how games can be used to solve real world problems.
James: [00:05:41] And I'm introducing myself for the third time as James, but I am a managing director and do a lot of project management work with the team to build all of the things that we build.
Megha: [00:05:52] Nice. We've got a first time viewer in the chat. So hello to Magic_Casts. Hello. Thank you for joining. So for anyone new to Chaos Theory, we are a game development studio based in Sydney and our last stream which by the way is available on YouTube and Twitch as well if you want to watch. It was a World Oceans Day themed livestream. This one is going to be a little different, however, where surrounding this stream on games that build empathy. So what do you think about that topic in general games that can build empathy?
Nico: [00:06:31] I think games have a unique ability to let us experience other stories from a first person perspective. So when you play a game, you often refer to your experience of playing that game in the first person, like I walked down the street or I sat on the couch. So I think there is a very powerful tool to let you sort of live somebody else's life or experience what it's like to live somebody else's life, to live their life. And I think that a lot of the games that we're going to be playing tonight have somewhat dark themes or themes that are complex. And yeah, games. Games are a great way to let you see other people's perspectives.
James: [00:07:16] And I think that games being an interactive medium means that the player is making their own choices, for better or worse. And that makes maybe the impact of the outcomes in the game if its nice and engrossing, feel a lot more real or their fault or they caused it. Which can help with again following what you said, like being fitting in with the living someone else's life and being walking in someone else's shoes.
Megha: [00:07:50] Yeah. So I guess we all kind of agree that playing and possibly streaming games like this for people to watch and people to experience is also so important. Trying to get them to understand or get them to live through these experiences and hopefully help them. Potentially get a view of something that they wouldn't necessarily see for themselves in an otherwise setting, like potentially with movies and books as well. But games is also, as you were saying, more immersive probably than those mediums.
James: [00:08:22] Yeah, exactly.
Nico: [00:08:24] I think they're good at tackling different sorts of problems as well and with a lot of games for change or these games with a good core purpose to them. Often getting them in the hands of the right people is the real challenge. So yeah, I think it's great to explore what these games look like and how they work. And yeah, just promote the field of games for change, so more people are aware of it and more people seek out cool, interesting games in that space.
Megha: [00:08:53] Yeah. Very true. We've got someone in the chat. guriqbal107. Please I apologize if I mispronouncing any of your handles, by the way, who asked where is Polly whirl? Polly whirl was only there for the World Oceans Day live stream. He might make a return in probably a future live stream. You're just going to have to look out for him. Maybe we'll hide him somewhere in the corner and we'll make it a game to who can spot Polly whirl and also thank you for joining again because I remember you from last time. Also, I am keeping a better eye on chat this time, I promise. Also as a bit of a disclaimer, some of the games that we're playing today. So we haven't made any of these games. We're obviously playing these games that were made by some other amazing game developers and amazing game Dev Studios. And a lot of these games hit on some very, extremely important issues. And although we personally haven't experienced things like marginalized racism, homelessness, being a refugee and potentially not really having much as a heavy difficulty with immigration, which is some of the topics we are going to be hitting on today. We're going to be approaching all of these topics in a strictly game play, game design point of view. Not that we have anything aside from that to really add to the conversation, but is there anything you guys want to add to that just on what we're playing today?
Nico: [00:10:25] I think that sort of relates to the earlier point around. We definitely don't have these experiences and I'm excited to jump in. I haven't played all these games, so excited to expand my knowledge and horizons and learn about these topics. And yeah, I obviously don't have a lot of experience with a lot of these things.
Megha: [00:10:48] Yep. Also to you guys, WWF_Global is in the chat, so say hi to them. Hello. Thank you for joining. All right. So as I said, this time I'm going to be keeping a much closer eye on chat. So feel free to ask questions or comments as we play these games. And also another thing, where to make this more accessible and we did do this with our World Ocean Day stream. We are going to be posting a full transcript of the stream afterwards on our website. So keep an eye out on that. And that's just so that we can have full accessibility and it'll also be up on YouTube, but we'll get to that later. So yeah, without any further ado, let's get into the first game, guys.
James: [00:11:30] Good. Sounds good.
Megha: [00:11:31] Cool.
Nico: [00:11:32] Do you want to grab the keyboard mouse?
Megha: [00:11:34] Yeah. So we have decided beforehand who is going to be playing each game. So James is playing the first game. It is actually World Wildlife Fun and that is actually them. We're very close. We're best buds. Cool. Okay. Yeah. So as you guys can see, the first game that we're playing is, papers please. It's a dystopian document thriller. It was designed by Lucas Pope and developed by his company 3909 LLC. It was released in 2013. It is available to download on iOS or PC, so please obviously download it and play the game for yourselves. So yeah, so have you guys played this game before? Do you know anything about it?
James: [00:12:22] I have played a few hours and probably failed miserably in my attempts, so this is going to be interesting, but I have heard quite a lot about it since it came out almost ten years ago now.
Megha: [00:12:35] Yeah.
James: [00:12:36] And enjoyed my first gruelling, punishing experience with the game probably a few years ago.
Nico: [00:12:43] Yeah. I also failed miserably at playing this game.
James: [00:12:48] I think it's a game that you can win, but, yeah.
Megha: [00:12:51] There is no winning. There's just survivors.
James: [00:12:53] It's just feeling.
Nico: [00:12:54] It's definitely one of those games that gets talked about a lot in game design circles and is just held up as a unique game that is incredibly powerful and makes you really understand what it's like to be an immigration officer, which seems like an interesting theme for a game but it does it really, really well. So excited to have a chat about it.
James: [00:13:17] Yeah, I think one of the phrases bandied around certainly in game development teams or studios is the mechanics as metaphor or using your game mechanics to help tell your story or part of interacting with the game in the way that the developers have tried to do it is helping to build that empathy or feel the feelings that you might want to feel. And I think purposely does a very good job of feeling that frustration or or feeling of being trapped between choosing between your morals and the authority that's overseeing you. I'm sure. You want to jump in.
Megha: [00:13:53] Yeah. So while we jump in, for anyone who hasn't played the game before or aren't really familiar with it, the game is set in the fictional country of Artotzka. It's set in the year 1982, and you as an you, the player, are an immigration officer and you have to find a way to balance your morality and like feeding your family. And it gets very stressful very quickly. Another first time viewer in the chat, nightt5ury, says, Big fan. Yeah, yeah. So we have fans now. That's awesome.
James: [00:14:28] Do you want me to go ahead and read these out now?
Nico: [00:14:31] What's the gist?
James: [00:14:33] What's the gist? I don't know feeling a little bit, you know, Eastern Bloc Europe a little bit. 1980s, getting some kind of totalitarian communist vibes from this, but walk to work.
Nico: [00:14:48] I believe it's set at the fall of some sort of wall in this fictional.
James: [00:14:53] some sort of wall.
Nico: [00:14:56] Country or they've opened up the border and it's your job to let people through and only let people through who are approved.
James: [00:15:04] Yeah.
Nico: [00:15:05] But yeah. Read out anything that's key for us to pick up on.
James: [00:15:10] So we're stamping people's passports or giving them an entry Visa. And we're only allowing Arstotzkan citizens in across the border. No foreigners. That sounds familiar. And right now we've got to make sure that they've got the right nationality on their passport. And we have a few little things all the way compressed down here. Cool. We're opening in the New Year's. Go.
Nico: [00:15:42] And you can just put that to the side. Yeah. Do you want to open the shutters. Top right. Yep. Nice.
Megha: [00:15:52] Oh, I think you just have to click the. You got to tell them to come in. They're not gonna know.
James: [00:16:00] Oh. Hey, that's the name of the game.
Nico: [00:16:03] Whoa! Ooh, it's right. It's the name of the game.
Megha: [00:16:07] It is the name of the game.
James: [00:16:09] Arstotzka.
Nico: [00:16:10] Nevon Griffiths.
James: [00:16:12] It looks a little bit different.
Nico: [00:16:16] I reckon it checks out.
James: [00:16:17] Yeah?
Nico: [00:16:18] Yeah. Stamp them through.
James: [00:16:19] Yeah, yeah.
Megha: [00:16:20] James, have you ever worked as an immigration officer? You've already got the distinction down. Like you don't really look like this.
[00:16:30] [cross talk]
Megha: [00:16:31] Oh, no, it's that arrow on the top right of that inspection booth thing. There's a little grey arrow.
James: [00:16:41] Oh, yes.
Megha: [00:16:42] I know you stamp the wrong.
Nico: [00:16:45] Stamp in the instructions, but that's good. Good first try.
James: [00:16:48] The instructions are approved. This is going well.
Nico: [00:16:51] You're obviously a natural.
James: [00:16:53] You can have your passport back.
Megha: [00:16:56] I got Belle the bookworm in Chat who is as stressed as we are already, apparently. Which is fair enough.
Nico: [00:17:04] Yeah.
James: [00:17:04] That's right. It's a real time clock, isn't it? Hurry up, guys. Get it.
Nico: [00:17:10] Now it sets in. You don't have anything. You're all rejected. What nationality is this from? It's not the right colour. You can just deny them.
James: [00:17:20] Yeah. Look, what is the glorious eagle on the cover?
Megha: [00:17:26] So the game's got quite simple mechanics for an otherwise seemingly complicated storyline or do you feel about like because it feels simple, but at the same time, like I think even people in the chat were saying it already feels stressful. What do you think about, like, game mechanics like that?
James: [00:17:44] Look, you don't need to add too much more than a timer to start feeling very stressed about some things, even while having to talk and deny people at the same time is stressful. Yeah, but I think that there is simple. Set the controls but very well refined helps, you know, not overcomplicate things [inaudible]. And even through very, very simple dialogue, it's incredible that the game is able to do such a good job of really making you feel as if you're a day in the life of through essentially five things to press.
Megha: [00:18:26] So, simple game design, but somehow there's a deeper story happening in the background. And that's what makes the difference.
James: [00:18:35] And I think you wouldn't, you know, because you are being timed and you are looking for fine details like you don't want too much to be, days canceled. Yeah, he just told me that he is off. He doesn't like this. Yeah, you wouldn't want to get, you know, too much more that you've got to pay attention to or distracting you from.
Nico: [00:18:58] I think, yeah. In this particular game, a lot of the complexity comes in analyzing the information. So even though it's simple controls, we'll see as it progresses the amount of information that you need to process becomes more and more onerous on the player. And then that's being balanced against the timer and your desire to move faster. So I think we're about to jump into the part where we talk about the family. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Megha: [00:19:31] So, right now your wife and your son and you're looking after four people and you've made ten. It's not really dollars, but you've made ten.
James: [00:19:42] Ten, ten.
Megha: [00:19:42] Ten.
James: [00:19:43] Ten, schmeichel's.
Nico: [00:19:44] Ten. No, ten paper box.
Megha: [00:19:46] Yeah.
Nico: [00:19:47] It's paper money. It's all. It's all fake.
Megha: [00:19:49] Another first time viewer in the chat, ElricPlay, says that James is a bit quiet.
Nico: [00:19:55] Oh, all right. I'll get a little bit close on. Thank you, EricPlay.
Megha: [00:20:00] I think he also meant by how much you're speaking, not necessarily how quietly speaking. James is focusing on being a good immigration officer.
Nico: [00:20:10] Didn't you say that perfect score last time? No spies let over the border. So yeah. With the family being introduced and yeah, you take care of your I think it's like wife, son and.
Megha: [00:20:22] Mother in law and Father in law.
Nico: [00:20:23] Mother in law and Father in law. And like they all require a certain amount of food and medicine to be kept alive. I think that's an additional pressure just to motivate you and using a theme or a narrative to put more emphasis or more pressure on the player to perform where you're really looking to optimize the amount of time that you've got and I think that really plays into the gameplay being a lot more anxiety inducing.
Megha: [00:20:52] Yep.
James: [00:20:53] I think it humanizes a bit more as well because you know, you're role playing as a real person in the same way that border control officers are real people and they also have their own kind of objectives or desires to get out of doing the job well or not well instead of just, you know, making sure that you're getting a perfect record or a high score, that is a bit of a something to look forward to at the end of the day. So day two in the office, we are now permitting foreigners over the border and we can inspect people's passport, ports for discrepancies. Inspect mode using the red button on your desk. Nice. And we can highlight pieces of information to make sure or check if it's a discrepancy. Nice. All right. And we're back. We've got our controls. Shutters open. Come on in.
Megha: [00:21:54] So Lucas Pope, the designer and developer of this game, said he was inspired of his own times that the immigration line, as well as movies like Argo and The Bourne series and stuff like that about how spies try to enter the country and things like that. So what do you think about making something that would otherwise seem like. Because we've all been in immigration lines, I assume, and it is quite mundane, but taking something that is otherwise mundane and making it into a game that is quite engaging. What do you think that system has? How do you think that happens?
Nico: [00:22:36] I mean, if anybody had pitched this game to me before I played it or heard about it, I would have expired. I would have thought that it was a terrible idea. Yeah. Like, yeah, I don't think too many people would have predicted that it would work as well as it has. And I think that yeah, there are, yeah, there are a few really just kind of weird, bizarre, unique games out there. I've definitely found after playing this, every time I've been through immigration, I've had a new appreciation for everybody. Everybody working there.
Megha: [00:23:08] Yep.
Nico: [00:23:09] Which is, yeah impressive that a simple game such as this that I played I think once or twice has left an impact on me where I treat people differently in the real world because I now empathize with them and have seen like the immigration office is when like from our side we just walk through immigration. We have one interaction with them and it's like, Oh, why are they so bossy or why are they bossing me around versus playing this game. You're dealing with people every single day and when people have an expired passport, you're angry because you're like, I've got to feed my family. Like, I can't believe that you do this to me. And like the frustration is genuine. So like now when I go into an airport, I try and make their lives as easy as possible. And I think that's kind of just a bit unique and interesting about this game.
James: [00:23:58] You might recognize some archetypes of the people that approach you in the desk and maybe the behaviors you've exhibited in the line when you've got. Yeah, I've been waiting in this for 8 hours. Hurry up. Please do your job. What do we got? Antegria. It's not expired. She kind of looks like her.
Megha: [00:24:19] So actually, one of the people in Chat guriqbal107, who says, as an immigrant, this game has some extra layers of anxiety. So that's something I can definitely relate to. Like I'm an immigrant actually to Australia. So every single time I go through immigration, it's always just like, oh God, just like I've not signed something or I've not ticked something. And going through customs is always.
James: [00:24:43] A little bit of extra passport information for this one.
Megha: [00:24:46] Going through customs is always that extra level of anxiety. So yeah, I think the few times I've tried playing this game, I have not been able to get through it because it just, it stresses me out. It's too much. It's way too real for me.
Nico: [00:24:59] Yeah, it is. It is crazy how anxiety inducing. It is just in general as a game. Like, I think it's probably one of the most stressful games I've ever played.
Megha: [00:25:08] Oh, yeah. Oh, no.
Nico: [00:25:12] Oh, no. Oh, no.
James: [00:25:13] Oh, boy. Oh, God. I have got a runner.
Megha: [00:25:16] We've got to runner.
James: [00:25:18] It wasn't someone I let through.
Megha: [00:25:19] No, no, he jumped. He jumped.
James: [00:25:22] Oh.
Megha: [00:25:23] Oh, gosh.
James: [00:25:25] Not looking good at the border to Grestin. Oh, cut short. I needed my pay. I had another three people to admit. I'm down to $0.
Nico: [00:25:41] You can't pay for it all. I think you've got cheating.
James: [00:25:45] Yep.
Nico: [00:25:46] So, do you want food or heating.
Megha: [00:25:49] I think food. Probably
James: [00:25:51] That's important.
Megha: [00:25:52] Yeah, food is important.
James: [00:25:54] But now everyone's going to be cold. You all got more scrutiny?
Nico: [00:26:01] You could have done better.
James: [00:26:02] I could have. Could have done faster. Yeah.
Nico: [00:26:06] If that person didn't have an expired passport. That's the problem.
James: [00:26:11] All right. What do we got for today? Some more requirements. Regulated entry for non citizens. They need an entry ticket as well as their passport. Still just have to stamp their passport, but have to make sure that their missing documents don't or they're not missing any documents. And it links up with the rule book.
Megha: [00:26:40] There are some people that the game is maybe slightly getting spoiled for them if they haven't played it before.
Nico: [00:26:46] Spoiler warning for most of the games that we're going to play.
Megha: [00:26:49] Should have also made that disclaimer of spoiler.
Nico: [00:26:52] Don't worry, I am certain that we're not going to get too far and that if you wanted to play this game, you'll enjoy it and there'll be a full, full story waiting for you beyond the point of where we fail.
Megha: [00:27:07] So another thing. The game's genre is listed as simulation history. What do you think? How do you think like taking something that's history inspired and setting it into the conventions of a game have on like real world impact.
Nico: [00:27:27] I think that yeah, the use of this historical setting, even though they've set it in a fictional world, it's definitely Eastern European, potentially Germany and Berlin. They're talking about a divided city. I think using that in your game is. Ask her that she doesn't have a ticket?
Megha: [00:27:53] Yeah. I don't think.
James: [00:27:54] Oh, no, wait. I've got to go into the rules.
Nico: [00:27:56] Yeah, you've got to open up your rule book, which is on your counter. Yeah. You've got to open that up and then you've got to go to the rules. Basic rules.
James: [00:28:08] Here we go. Where is you ticket? Alright. We're good. Yeah, we're good. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. It better be valid. Passport. Better be valid. You just take it, take it and go. Put an entry ticket in the counter next time.
Megha: [00:28:28] I think our downstairs neighbors are going to have problems. James is Stomping and like sheer stress.
James: [00:28:35] Oh, oh, we've got this again, man. Everyone's got these cards.
Nico: [00:28:39] Still valid. So back to the historical context, I think that the use of that historical context lets you do a lot of world building very quickly so it can set the tone, set the theme, and you can draw on people's previous knowledge and experience of this event or this historical setting. It's a powerful tool. It's a way to get people into the world very quickly. But it also comes with with the extra baggage of every everybody's experiences and knowledge of those different topics are different. So you can't necessarily control what is being brought into this world and what people's views are going to be. So there tends to be a lot of research required and just making sure that you're picking the right setting and portraying it accurately in order to have that that effect or that desired effect.
James: [00:29:33] I think it helps tell the story very quickly as well. If you can connect it to some historical precedent, instead of having to build a whole world and justify why there might be border control and stuff in it. You can draw on people's lived experience or remembered experience.
Nico: [00:29:50] Yeah, it definitely comes back to the idea of this game is really simple in terms of the mechanics.
Megha: [00:29:56] Wait, wait, wait, wait.
James: [00:29:57] What?
Megha: [00:29:58] He doesn't look like his photo.
Nico: [00:30:00] Oh, it has [caught] a bun maybe.
Megha: [00:30:05] It has got a bit of stubble, too.
James: [00:30:08] Let us just check this. No correlation.
Nico: [00:30:16] Hey, you can close it in the bottom.
James: [00:30:19] And then reject them?
Megha: [00:30:21] No, no. I think it is fine. It said no correlation. Yeah.
Nico: [00:30:25] No correlation between the base and their possible case.
Megha: [00:30:35] Also guriqbal107 said in chat, anyone who likes the idea of mechanics having meaning that he would heavily recommend Frostpunk, which I think Nico you have also mentioned as a game that you like a lot.
Nico: [00:30:48] Absolutely love it in terms of. Yeah. Again quite a simple game. Definitely more complex than this. I really like city building games, but there is just a lot of interesting moral dilemmas to explore. And I like games where it makes you ponder whether or not you are the evil person and it sets this sort of like greater good objective where you are trying to save as many people as possible. And it is do I sacrifice a few people to save everybody or does everybody pass away? Just exploring interesting questions about our own morality and ethics. I think that this war of mine as well is a good example of that, where it is a survival game, where you play as a civilian in a war zone and you basically just need to figure out how to survive and craft the things that you need to.
Megha: [00:31:49] James, just.
James: [00:31:51] Give me your stuff. Stop talking.
Nico: [00:31:54] [Where is your passport?]
James: [00:31:57] God, this guy.
Nico: [00:32:00] You do not need this right now.
James: [00:32:02] I really do not. Office is closing. Better let someone else in.
Megha: [00:32:09] I think you brought up, like, a really interesting thing with the Frostpunk as well. And I think it comes up in this game. Maybe not right now, but it happens a little later.
James: [00:32:18] Spoilers
Megha: [00:32:19] Spoilers, everyone close your years if you have not played it, is that after a certain point in the game, you start to get a lot of questions with like people coming into the immigration booth about morality, about them being like, No, I have to get into the country for this. It gets just a couple of days off. And that stuff that actually does happen in the immigration lines as well was just like, oh, it is just this little bit or it is that a little bit. So what do you think about like, you know, that kind of message being built into the game about like really testing your morality? James was just testing his patience at this point.
Nico: [00:32:52] I mean, yeah, I definitely think uniquely something that games can explore where it is less about a theoretical question of what would you do in this scenario? And it is more you are torn between two options and you need to make a decision. And I have definitely found myself in those circumstances, swinging wildly between those two different sort of moral ends or different moral ideas or philosophies. And I think one of the reasons that I do that and explore those different options is to see what the consequences are. See how it makes me feel and how I react to those scenarios. Games are definitely a safe space where we can explore those ideas and we know that people are not getting hurt, or maybe some digital people. But for now, no people are being hurt. So I think it just is way to learn more about the world and learn more about ourselves. And I think that is really cool.
Megha: [00:34:08] Also, while James goes through this last day and then I think we might wrap up this game before he implodes.
James: [00:34:16] For my perfect record. Actually now I got a violation last time. Yeah.
Megha: [00:34:19] Oh, no.
Nico: [00:34:20] We are going to have to cut you off.
Megha: [00:34:23] I wanted to bring some of the accolades that this game has won, just because obviously it is a very good game and it is very simple and what it does with its repetitive mechanics. But in that same way, like, as if anyone can see how James's face has changed from the start of this dream to right now it works. So this game won the most innovative award at the Games for change in 2014. It also won the BAFTA Game Awards for Strategy and Simulation and the Peabody Award for Digital and Interactive Storytelling. I believe there is also a short film that is out on YouTube right now that everyone can watch that is based on this game. It is about 10 minutes.
James: [00:35:08] It's the movie.
Megha: [00:35:08] Yeah.
Nico: [00:35:09] Coming up next.
Megha: [00:35:09] Yeah.
James: [00:35:10] Six seasons and movie.
Megha: [00:35:11] Yeah, we are definitely rooting for that to happen. Now that we have sat here and played it, we need this movie to happen. We need that real life anxiety.
James: [00:35:21] [cross talk] this Netflix.
Nico: [00:35:22] I am interested to see this YouTube short film about Papers Please. And I imagine there is somebody raging at people for not having their passport.
Megha: [00:35:34] I myself have not watched this short film. I am assuming you have not watched it.
Nico: [00:35:40] First I am hearing about.
Megha: [00:35:41] Yeah. So you guys should definitely watch it. I have heard that it is quite good. It is quite a mirror of what this game actually does to somebody in terms of the stress and anxiety that you feel. So yeah, I think we are all going to go and watch it after this now. But yes, I think.
James: [00:36:02] Things have gotten complicated on day three.
Nico: [00:36:04] Yeah, well, what do you do? [cross talk]
James: [00:36:06] Oh, my God. So now citizens need to show their ID card, but non-citizens need a permit which has to match up with their passport number and the date and by Oh, you are in trouble. Oh, come on. That is wrong. What? Oh, enter by. Hold on. Just. Yeah, that is what I thought.
Nico: [00:36:36] Hold on.
James: [00:36:36] I was busy. Well, too [badly]. We are all busy. I got an update.
Nico: [00:36:43] I got my family to feed here.
James: [00:36:46] It feels like the Australian passport office at the moment. The queue a little bit longer than that.
Megha: [00:36:53] So speaking of our theme, it is a games that build empathy. And I know like a couple of the games that we are playing today have like this kind of bitter and bleak tone to it. What do you think that how do you think that makes a difference when trying to build empathy rather than just having something that is super uplifting and inspiring instead? Or do you think there is like a balance that you have to find between those?
Nico: [00:37:14] I think that it is probably a tool to be used in different scenarios. I think for this game, a sort of bleak and dark, depressing theme is probably, I guess, enhancing the experience of being an immigration officer setting the tone of what sort of experience that you are going into. Yeah, I imagine if this was a happy go lucky like you are on an island paradise and you are letting people into the island paradise. Well like people going home from a holiday or something. It really just would not have the same impact. So I would say definitely a tool like other game design tools where you can use it to set the mood, set the tone and prepare people for the experience that they are about to be going into.
James: [00:38:06] Yeah. I think it is a tough balance to achieve as well. A lot of, I guess empathy games as a category are not maybe necessarily meant to be fun in ways that other games or games focused on entertainment are. And I think that maybe limits the kinds of mechanics that make sense. You know, you are not looking to have sessions that might last for hours potentially. You are really focused on getting the most value or most impact that you can out of maybe something that is not meant to last for 80 hours or that you are meant to play with all of your friends or matches of 20 people.
Nico: [00:38:49] Yeah. I definitely think that there are different forms of fun and I usually use engagement as a broader term to fun because you can definitely have a game like this which, is it fun? I am not sure. It is stressful and anxiety inducing and certainly an enjoyable experience where you go through the experience and you feel like, Oh wow, this is something that I will remember and something that I value. But it is not exactly what most people would call fun or relaxation or recreation. It is definitely a game and certainly engaging.
James: [00:39:34] Certainly stressful. I am just hoping that I am not going to get any more citations today.
Nico: [00:39:41] Just end it.
James: [00:39:42] Two second delay. I mean, this totalitarian government is so all powerful and all saying that they immediately know when I have made a mistake. So someone else is checking them after they get past this border?
Nico: [00:39:56] Yeah.
Megha: [00:39:57] So for anyone in the chat, if you have got any comments or questions, anything like that, what do you think about games like this that help people build empathy. I would be interested to know what the chat thinks as well.
Nico: [00:40:18] Valid name.
James: [00:40:20] I am stacking them up now. Five credits. We have got this guy. Yeah.
Nico: [00:40:27] He is back.
Megha: [00:40:27] I think he drew that on.
Nico: [00:40:30] Approve it. Send him on his way.
James: [00:40:32] The stamp does not even fit.
Megha: [00:40:40] He is going to come back with a better one.
James: [00:40:41] With a real one. You are gonna learn some Photoshop.
Nico: [00:40:46] He is eventually going to come back with, like, perfect documentation.
James: [00:40:53] We actually have a [StatSCan] citizen.
Nico: [00:40:56] Photos do not match.
James: [00:40:57] Yeah, they certainly do not. Time for an interrogation.
Megha: [00:41:04] The years have been cruel. Fingerprint.
James: [00:41:07] Oh, hit the fingerprint button. No known alias.
Nico: [00:41:16] There is a name. Stephana.
James: [00:41:20] Okay.
Megha: [00:41:22] The same name? Yeah.
James: [00:41:23] It is. Oh, man. I have got so much paper to manage in my desk. Oh, I have missed this classic passport stamps.
Megha: [00:41:34] So bellethebookworm in chat says. Oh, no.
James: [00:41:40] The fingerprints matched. Come on, so many roles.
Megha: [00:41:44] She said, I completely agree with both of you. It is a very different type of game and maybe essentially be enjoyable for many, but may not be, I am assuming, or maybe essentially be enjoyable for many, but definitely engaging.
James: [00:41:59] I need these five credits. Come on. Cause no trouble. Wait. Office is not even close.
Nico: [00:42:07] This day is really [cross talk] James.
James: [00:42:09] Agenda. Oh, that is making some assumptions.
Megha: [00:42:14] Oh, no. Well, this was in 1982, I guess.
James: [00:42:20] Yeah. Okay.
Nico: [00:42:21] I mean, I think I am pretty sure people consistently have issues that borders with gender. So I am sure that is accurate for some people.
James: [00:42:33] No correlation expiry, date of birth. All right. This guy is good. I am not sure about these inspection controls. Rusfor.
Megha: [00:42:44] Rusfor.
James: [00:42:48] Everyone has left for the day. We have got a lot of guards here.
Megha: [00:42:53] I think that was after the the attack happened. The rent has gone up. You are -10 now.
James: [00:43:02] Why is that coming from? My savings are at 0. We need to start accepting some bribes, I reckon. My whole family is cold. We can not afford food today. Come on. Penalties.
Megha: [00:43:16] All right, I think you can pick it up. This another day before you come bust.
James: [00:43:23] Yeah.
Megha: [00:43:25] Okay.
James: [00:43:26] Answering questions and inspecting passports at the same time, that is the real immigration officer experience. That is too stressful. I would be asking the people in the front counter, just calm down for a second. I have got to read 50 dates and make sure that your thing is coming from the correct country.
Megha: [00:43:44] Yep. Okay. So I think that is us wrapping up Papers Please. James, what did you think?
James: [00:43:51] It feels very familiar to the stress that I felt three or four years ago when I played this game. But it is good. It does I mean, it ratchets up the difficulty very quickly, I think. But still, all of the mechanics feel very relatable. I like how the story kind of builds in very small, like snippets, more visuals. All you need is a ten second animation there of someone jumping the border, and then you get the news that things have changed and now all these requirements coming in. So like the game world kind of feels whole. Like the system makes sense. But yeah, I think it is I would not want to see what Papers Please end game content looks like or a speedrun. That would be be scary.
Megha: [00:44:40] Oh, yeah.
Nico: [00:44:42] For sure.
Megha: [00:44:45] So bellethebookworm in chat, said, do not come bust, James. We want to watch more games. You got to keep going. All right. So once again, credit to the developer, Lucas Pope. And for everyone watching, you can get this game on iOS systems, a PlayStation Vita, if anyone really still has one of those. I know someone in chat did say that the last time they played this game was on a PlayStation Vita. So if you still have that system, go for it.
Nico: [00:45:15] Dig it up.
Megha: [00:45:16] Dig it up. And obviously, Microsoft Windows and Linux. So yeah, go, go for it. Play this game. Then we are going to get the next game ready, which I think I will be playing. We get the keyboard and we will figure out how well I can multitask doing three things.
Nico: [00:45:36] Yeah, I am sure multitasking did not make Papers Please easier.
James: [00:45:40] Not particularly.
Nico: [00:45:41] There you go.
James: [00:45:42] I would be excited to try it on mobile, though. I did not realize it had made its way to iOS. Maybe the little desk paper pushing controls are a little bit more accessible.
Nico: [00:45:51] A little bit of haptics on it.
James: [00:45:53] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Megha: [00:45:56] Okay, so the next game that we are going to get up and ready now it is Darts home, which not only, amazingly enough, won Best Narrative and Game of the year this year at GFC. So congratulations to the.
Nico: [00:46:14] GFC is the Games for Change Festival?
Megha: [00:46:16] Games for Change Festival. Yeah. In case people do not know. It is the Games for Change Festival. It is a huge congrats to the development team, which is whether it is WETA, I believe, and the Rhizome Stories project team who all made this game possible. So congrats guys. So again, Darts Home is a game that is made by people of color for people of color. And it is going to tell the very real story of marginalised racism and the kind of housing equality and poverty involved in BIPOC, which is for people again who do not know as Black, Indigenous, People of Color based in America. Again, very real, very active situation, very active issue that is still going on till today. It is an amazing game. So for anybody who wants to play this game, it was released late October 2021 and it is available on Steam Itch.io, Google Play the Apple App Store. I would highly recommend even definitely if you are BIPOC or if you are a person of color and facing these kinds of issues, even if you are not just to get that sense of what it might potentially be like for people like this, what do you guys think? Have you heard of this game? Do you know much about it?
Nico: [00:47:47] I only heard about it through the Game Change Awards. Just saw it come up, but have not really looked into it beyond that point. So interested to learn more. I know a tiny bit about housing inequality in the US and I do not know if it is structural or systemic racism or like.
James: [00:48:06] The bit of both.
Nico: [00:48:08] Yeah. The various forms of racism that have led up to housing inequality in the US. So interested in learning more and probably as a spoiler warning, we are going to play the first half I would say of this game.
James: [00:48:26] Short game I think.
Nico: [00:48:27] But hopefully you will be intrigued enough to download it and try the other half or like play the first half and then see, see how it all ends.
Megha: [00:48:36] Yeah. And amazingly, we do have a BIPOC in the chat though. Who is bellethebookworm. She is BIPOC. So thank you for thank you for watching again. Just to say where pretty much obviously we probably have not lived through a lot of these experiences or any of these experiences ourselves, but we are just here to give our thoughts, appreciate the game design and the game developers and the amazing hard work that has gone into this game. So with that, let us multitask. We will see how well I can do this.
James: [00:49:10] We are ready to go.
Nico: [00:49:11] I think.
Megha: [00:49:13] What? Oh, here we go. I have gotten control of the mouse. Okay, so I did start a bit beforehand just for the chat to know. It is just so that we would not have to go through all of the intro but to sum up the intro is basically we are playing as Dorothy Dot Hawkins and this is a story of her spoilers going through the timeline of her family's history and how they got to where they are, the kind of housing inequality and the racism that they felt and the situations and what should I say, Possibilities and things that led them to where they are right now. And she Is going to live through all of those moments and see how her parents and her grandparents got to where they are right now.
James: [00:50:06] Cool.
Megha: [00:50:07] So I am going to potentially not read out all of the dialogue. But if anyone in chat wants me to read out the dialogue, I will read out the dialogue. That depends on chat.
James: [00:50:22] Claps for dialogue. Oh, she is playing a game, too, or he is playing a game, too.
Megha: [00:50:35] Oh yeah. He was playing because they could not actually say the game that it was based on. But I think it was Supreme Smash Brothers or something similar to that effect.
Nico: [00:50:51] Supreme Smash Sisters?
Megha: [00:50:53] No, it was. It was Brother.
James: [00:50:55] Mould on the walls. This guy is going to need to knock down some walls.
Megha: [00:51:07] I really like the simple animations that they have when the character is talking.
James: [00:51:13] Yeah. They have done a really good job of just a little either slightly higher detail characters or the outline around the characters to just pop them out from the background and kind of see where your walkable area is. I think it is hard to achieve.
Nico: [00:51:27] Subtle animation as well.
James: [00:51:28] Yeah.
Nico: [00:51:29] Just really really subtle breathing, which makes them very obviously stand up.
Megha: [00:51:38] Oh, I got to go.
Nico: [00:51:39] Knocking on the door.
Megha: [00:51:44] I have not played a game like this where it is just, like, click to move and so on.
James: [00:51:53] No, no point in click adventures recently.
Megha: [00:51:55] No, [cross talk]
Nico: [00:52:01] That is how wide I am. Yes.
Megha: [00:52:04] An open door is an open invitation for you know. And an open door is not that. Also, you are intruding. I represent a company called Hope Equity.
Nico: [00:52:25] So they are investing heavily in the neighbourhood. And they are looking to buy this property, I guess.
James: [00:52:31] Invest in the neighbourhood or knock down houses and move other people into the neighbourhood.
Nico: [00:52:37] Well, we will definitely see.
Megha: [00:52:41] So they are basically saying cash for keys or something similar like. How can you bring back a neighbourhood that never went anywhere? Very true. Bye. Yes. Please leave.
James: [00:52:59] Sent achievement unlocked.
Nico: [00:53:01] Nice.
Megha: [00:53:02] All right. Okay. I got to go tell grandma that some weird people were at the door.
James: [00:53:11] Mac and cheese is ready. Oh.
Megha: [00:53:19] Oh, no. Do not believe what they say. Bye Mike. Yes. Oh, no. We are really testing my multitasking. I think. Mac and cheese always cheers people up. Okay. I am going upstairs, I guess.
James: [00:54:00] You are exploring.
Megha: [00:54:01] I am exploring. I know that is the basement where he was playing his Supreme Smash. Is this my room? This is my room.
Nico: [00:54:19] So do we have a goal at the moment and do they ask us to do something?
Megha: [00:54:24] I am not sure yet. I think like, yeah, this is the kind of thing where it is one of those games where you have to sit and read and go through the story and live through these experiences. That is a very harsh reality for a lot of these marginalized communities. And I think it is interesting in a way, because like probably with all the games, I kind of just jump straight into the action. But for this like, yeah, potentially, maybe it is a bit, you know, for a live stream, you are just like, Oh, I have got to sit through and listen to a lot of dialogue. But the dialogue is what makes it important, I feel.
James: [00:54:59] Yeah.
James: [00:55:09] I mean, it is a tough spot. The game is trying to place you in the shoes of a empathize with like having to choose between liquidating an asset to make ends meet or something that you want to leave to your kids or your grandkids. And in the case of this game.
Nico: [00:55:36] Is this what a what a headache feels like?
James: [00:55:41] Is not this what you say when you get a headache?
Nico: [00:55:44] Is this a time traveling headache?
Megha: [00:55:47] At least my headache is gone.
James: [00:55:48] Bedroom looks pretty. It is temporary.
Megha: [00:55:53] My door is locked from the outside. Oh, no. One of my keys will open it.
James: [00:55:58] Oh, the magic key.
Megha: [00:55:59] Why is this key glowing?
James: [00:56:02] Now, I have got to try every other key first.
Megha: [00:56:03] I do. All right. We are doing this. No.
James: [00:56:11] It must be the glowing one.
Megha: [00:56:11] Must be the glowing one.
James: [00:56:17] That is the time travel key.
Megha: [00:56:23] Oh, okay. I feel like it is so like disco 90 themed, almost. Like it has got that vibe to it.
James: [00:56:30] It has got the circus mirrors.
Megha: [00:56:32] Yeah. Oh, here we go. Whoa. Live on the wild side. Try all the keys. How long was I asleep for?
James: [00:56:57] Oh, he is back.
Nico: [00:56:57] Oh, no.
Megha: [00:56:58] Oh, no. Must have missed you coming in. Who is this? Oh, yeah, he was. Here for the open house. How do you like this? So he sold this house.
James: [00:57:08] So gonna be Murphy the second or Murphy the first?
Nico: [00:57:12] Why Murphy?
James: [00:57:14] The guy that we met at the door was. Was Murphy the third?
Nico: [00:57:17] Oh, really?
James: [00:57:18] Grandpa's probably going to look identical and be Murphy the first.
Nico: [00:57:21] Right. That is a good prediction.
James: [00:57:25] Oh, that is concerningly sexist. We have gone back in time. Or maybe not.
Nico: [00:57:35] Maybe forward in time. Maybe it is the current day.
James: [00:57:40] Maybe.
Megha: [00:57:42] So just so that I also look at chat and things. Okay. Here we go. I am looking for grandma. This is barely covering that crack in the wall. Do you think we're making the right decision Karl? She just found out she can time travel, guys. Spoilers.
Nico: [00:58:14] God, this would be concerning.
James: [00:58:20] This is a Marty McFly's situation.
Megha: [00:58:30] Just decided to pop in. Oh, okay. So we caught on to the time travel quickly, which is like, okay, we cannot freak them out. Where did they take Grandma? Do not worry, Belle. They did not take Grandma anywhere. We have just time travelled to the past.
James: [00:58:57] Just got the same stove in the future that she has when they moved in.
Megha: [00:59:01] Yep.
James: [00:59:02] Famous mac and cheese.
Nico: [00:59:03] Probably a good stove that has lasted that long.
Megha: [00:59:10] So the one of the co producers for this game, I think her name is Christina Rosales, said she was inspired to make this game and probably why a lot of the narrative is laid out like it is. She was inspired by another narrative style game called Night in the Woods. So a little like Paper Spears where he was inspired by movies like Argo and the Bourne films and things like that. So she said she wanted to have this feeling of curling up with a good book. And I think that is what having all of this dialogue laid out the way it is and having this kind of very calming, almost odd style to the game is to what do you think about like adopting those experiences from other mediums that you have lived through a view of experience and putting that into your own gameplay style? What do you. How do you think that correlates?
James: [01:00:06] Mr. Creative over here.
Nico: [01:00:09] I mean, I think that is always where I start when designing a game or need to start coming up with ideas is like previous experience and the more experiences that we have, the more we can draw on. And I think usually whenever we work on a project or start trying to work towards solving a problem, it is always trying to find something that resonates well. So what is the core message of what we are trying to communicate or what transformation do we want players to go through and then trying to find something that resonates with those players or resonates with the message. And that is usually just a jumping off point and then go into a bunch of different research. And when you find something that is the perfect fit, you can mind that for for inspiration, you cannot mind that for reference, but quite often, yeah, it is a fusion or an amalgamation between a lot of different forms of media. And yeah, I think it is always the, the sort of like immediate spark of inspiration that you go back to and say like this is where it all came from. But kind of this journey that you go along the way of finding other games of change that people have made before o the entertainment games that people have made before and seeing how they have approached some of these problems. Yeah.
James: [01:01:38] Yeah. I mean, I think, it can be about relating to the audience that you are hoping to play your game as well like, if you can build that sense of familiarity, maybe it is feeling like a good book. Maybe it is pulling some of these references in here that, you know, your players are going to get and you are going to love like they feel heard or listen to as you can kind of draw those connections and show that you are maybe approaching this story from the inside and not the outside. You know, you have got the inside references. You have done a bit of your research, but also what would feel, you know, familiar or comforting or in the case of this guy, discomforting for the intended audience of this game. And I think that is where going and looking at what has been done before and I think it is part of any artistic medium and games fits into that category. Like how is the title that might be releasing like moving this discussion along, like what has come before, what is the discourse around? How am I adding to that or changing that, or what perspective am I bringing to that? And I think it is important to know what has come before so that you are maybe not repeating yourself or contradicting what other people have said. And you are able to build from a place where an audience will understand some of that other stuff.
Megha : [01:03:06] Mm hmm.
Nico: [01:03:07] Yeah, definitely. Yeah I think the the mechanics of this game and just interactive narrative games in general I think are really popular for telling meaningful stories. And a lot of the time it is because they are I guess and potentially similar to Papers Please like the ease of access or the ease of being able to experience the story. There are not a whole lot of like complex mechanics or strategy that is getting in the way of the story. It is still putting you in that first person perspective of you are going through the story like you are going back in time. You are experiencing some of what it was like to be living in these communities and some of the structural and systemic problems that you are been through. And that is still interactive, but it is fairly easy to control or fairly accessible for people to go through.
James: [01:04:07] Absolutely. Learning about some bank discrimination here and some slimy car salesmanship going on.
Megha : [01:04:20] Oh, gosh.
Nico: [01:04:21] What do you do?
James: [01:04:22] Definitely buy.
Megha : [01:04:23] Oh, no. He was saying that if they miss a payment at all, then they go back to square one and they would lose the house if they were renting it.
James: [01:04:32] That sounds predatory.
Megha : [01:04:34] But they do not necessarily have the money to buy it outright. Oh no. It was the option of renting another house or buying this house on like a loan repayment kind of thing. And then if they miss a payment there, then they would have to give the house back. But they cannot take a loan because the bank would not give them a loan because they are BIPOC. So it is just like, okay, I do not know. I rent a house here. I could never afford a house in Australia, but that is like other for reasons as well. That is also just because the housing market here is just awful.
James: [01:05:10] You are about to unbirth yourself if you are not going to buy here.
Nico: [01:05:13] Yeah.
James: [01:05:14] Grandma is never going to move in. She is never going to make mac and cheese.
Megha : [01:05:17] Chats telling me to buy. So I will okay buy it.
Nico: [01:05:23] When is this the 1960?
Megha : [01:05:26] Yeah, I believe so.
Nico: [01:05:30] Well, I wish of buying any house in the 1960s in any country would have been a good investment, but potentially, yeah cannot afford it, which is another hurdle to overcome.
Megha : [01:05:43] Now chat is saying that my choice was not so great. And it will be remembered.
James: [01:05:48] You have been misled.
Megha : [01:05:49] I have been misled.
James: [01:05:51] Well, you are still alive so the time travel loop paradox is still intact. You have not quite ruin the future just yet.
Nico: [01:05:58] We have definitely made good friends with our grandma fairly quickly. The old mighty butterfly effect. Like [Webb] consulting them on major financial decisions.
James: [01:06:13] Yeah. I would take major financial advice from someone else who walked into the open home that I was a part of.
Nico: [01:06:19] I mean, I think it is an interesting aspect of game development where there is that suspension of disbelief, where we are willing to, I guess, forgive or forget a lot more of these sort of inconsistencies in the narrative because it has already this make believe world. We are already saying, like, this is not the real world, and you can just more freely explore these ideas and jump into, you are playing a game, so of course you are going to be able to advise them on which one to go with. Do they get a loan or do they do they rent? I guess, yeah. Just an interesting component of games.
Megha : [01:07:00] Hey, so she said she should sleep again, but I kind of want to go down and see if anything changed. Oh okay well, all right. I have to sleep. Sleep is required after time travel.
Nico: [01:07:11] Is that a stack of bills?
Megha : [01:07:12] Yeah, she said over more bills.
Nico: [01:07:16] Large.
Megha : [01:07:20] And that was not there before. Maybe that has what changed. We just got another stack of bills. It is locked again. I guess I will use that glowing key. All right, here we go.
Nico: [01:07:30] What are these are the keys for?
Megha : [01:07:32] I think that they are just other keys. Yeah.
James: [01:07:36] This is marking up progress to the story. Which keys do we know which door [was going]?
Megha : [01:07:42] So this is obviously a very deeply personal experience for a lot of people. What do you think? What advantages and potential disadvantages do you think that having this kind of very deeply personal experience as an interactive gameplay style is like over probably just putting it in like a TV series or a movie or something similar to that?
Nico: [01:08:10] I think that there are different strengths and weaknesses of the different formats, of the different mediums. And I mean, I always say that we should be doing all of the things like we should be creating TV shows, movies and games about like subjects that are important to us. I think that each of them will appeal to different people in different scenarios. Like, I know that I like to play games, but there are definitely days where I am kind of exhausted or just not do not have the energy to play a game. So we prefer to watch something. Or may be you are on a bus and you want to watch a video of some description. So having those different forms of of media or different formats means that more people get the opportunity to experience these. And I think that when you have a strong connection with one of these experiences or one of these TV shows, you are much more inclined to jump into the next one or seek out more of the same. So, yeah, I think that good for different scenarios essentially and having all of them is a huge plus.
James: [01:09:24] Yeah. I think a lot of, I was reading that there was quite a bit of praise for, Darts home and a lot of players were mentioning like, Oh, wow, I have never heard a story like this before or told about this subject before or about me or depicting these characters. I think games and maybe more broadly, the tech industry have had a problem with diversity and representation. And I think having a broader range of stories to tell and to experience helps with breaking down those barriers. It is not only BIPOC people that live these BIPOC stories, it is people that are maybe not coming from these backgrounds that are able to maybe build up a little bit of that sense of empathy or even just understanding with where people are coming from or what the cultural significance of some of that is. But yeah, I think I mean, I was perusing the website of the development team for this and if they had not won all of the awards for the game, certainly like one of the most diverse team awards, I think. And it goes to show what, diversity in storytelling or in subject matter you get out of having a more diverse team behind the games that are being built.
Megha : [01:10:45] So I think a couple of people have rejoined the chat. Just again, for everyone rejoining or anyone joining in right now, we are playing Darts home, which is a game that was made by BIPOC people for BIPOC people. And it is about marginalized communities and poverty and racism and housing and inequality and just a lot of very, very important issues. And we are quite far ahead in the story. But the story is just happening.
Nico: [01:11:20] Is this grandmother or mother that we are talking of?
Megha : [01:11:23] This is mother and father. So they are living in this like, I guess, housing block kind of area. And I guess they want to move because this, I am assuming, is her elder sister, Dorothy has elder sister who was just born and mother was saying how this is not necessarily the best place to raise their child and they are going to turn all of these into townhouses. And it is meant for the people that live here. But she is unsure that they mean them that live here and not just other people that live here.
James: [01:11:58] Your multitasking is impressive.
Nico: [01:12:00] Yeah.
James: [01:12:02] You read all of that while we listen. Well, we were having a little chat. Having a chat?
Megha : [01:12:08] I got to stay on my game.
Nico: [01:12:10] Game design and game design tools.
James: [01:12:17] Hope [six].
Megha : [01:12:20] Yep. I think we might wrap up that because I do not know how much more my multitasking brain can handle, and I think that is a good place to probably pause. Obviously, this is, like I mentioned, a very, very story driven game and narrative driven game. So it is one of those games that you have to sit through from beginning to end. So I highly recommend everybody watching to download this game. Like I mentioned, it is available on Android, PC, iOS and Itch.io and Steam all the usual places and it is free to download so definitely please go check it out, experience these things for yourselves and probably get into, if you can, a little bit of the mindset of what it could be like for BIPOC people living in these kinds of communities and what it is like for them. Just always a good thing to be informed about these kinds of issues.
Nico: [01:13:16] And I think you mentioned it was only an hour long, so definitely something that is definitely approachable and we have shown some of it. But I think it is a lot more meaningful when you are in the first person and going through that experience.
Megha : [01:13:31] Yeah. And it is definitely one of those things where I was trying to pay attention in on all three sides, but definitely wish that I and I probably will be after this just sitting and playing the game by myself and actually probably paying attention to a lot of the narrative that was happening.
James: [01:13:49] I think I mean, that is one of the great things about there being so many game developers out there and so many game development teams. Like there are games that are only an hour long now or 2 hours long. There is not this push that you got to have replayable content, you have got to have 100 missions and 100 unlocks and all this kind of stuff. You know, when I was growing up, if you were sitting down to play a game or choosing what to play, it was, okay, what am I going to spend my next 200 hours on? Like, this is a significant investment, but being able to play through something, start to finish, still interactive and less than the length of a movie is is pretty cool.
Megha : [01:14:29] Very true. All right, so we are going to get the next game ready, which I think Nico is playing.
Nico: [01:14:36] Cool.
Megha : [01:14:37] Well, do not get tangled in my own wires.
Nico: [01:14:41] Willing and able.
Megha : [01:14:43] I believe we are midway a bit through the stream now and again for everybody in chat and watching. I hope you are all enjoying the stream and the conversation and learning a lot more about how games can build empathy. Also, while we get this next game ready, I just like to also make a little announcement that next month we are having a very special collab stream with the World Wildlife Fund, super exciting. You would have seen them in chat earlier. Like I said, we are besties. So that is also going to be a super informative stream so I hope you all will note it down in your calendars. If not, just follow us on all of our socials and you will be updated pretty much when we do that. All right, bestie stream is going to happen next month. Get ready for it, guys. So the next game that we are playing, we have got it up right now is resilience. It is a Sci-fi city builder. And if anybody knows Nico, he loves City Builder games.
James: [01:15:50] Nico gets to play this one.
Megha : [01:15:52] So the base concept for the game involves you, the player, as a refugee camp manager, trying to get through day to day realities and of course, struggles of running a refugee camp. The game was developed by 18 students at Drexel University, which is based in the US as well, and it won the best student game at Games for Change Festival in 2020.
James: [01:16:21] Was this developed while they were studying?
Megha : [01:16:24] Yep.
James: [01:16:25] Oh, cool.
Megha : [01:16:26] So the game is also available to play on Windows, Mac and the Linux systems. Have you guys heard of this game or played it before?
James: [01:16:35] I have not.
Nico: [01:16:36] I played it in preparation for this because jumping into a city builder is usually a steep learning curve. And I am glad I did because there is a lot going on.
James: [01:16:46] Come on, you can figure it out. Skip the tutorial.
Nico: [01:16:49] I mean this is what [I have] thought, but there is a lot. So just to quickly explain what is going on, I kind of walk around the base and this is the admin centre like as people are dropped off in chips, they get processed here and come out into the wider world. And then if I press tab, I open my little tablet where I can kind of choose where to build different structures.
James: [01:17:14] That is cool.
Nico: [01:17:14] And I am just going to pause the game so that I can explain some of this. You can build shelter, water, food, hygiene and medicine, and then you get some little kind of analysis tools where you can look at how people are feeling. There is a journal with some real world facts, so through just experimenting earlier, I unlocked some, I guess, real world information about refugee crises and refugee camps and international aid in the real world. So I think this talks about ration packs and the UN and the World Food Programme providing these ration packs and what goes into them. And yeah, some of the challenges of providing that aid in this case, they reliant on their donors or their supporters. Basically, they are relying on countries to actually send the food to put it into packages to feed people. And I think just really I like this method of inserting information or real world learning information into a game where it is really under the surface. You do not really need to pay attention to it. But for people who are really engaged, people who are interested, it is there for them to jump into. And it is also used as a reward. So you kind of incentivize people to do certain behaviours and then you reward them with information. And it just kind of tricks people into thinking, wow, like this information, I need more of it. I need to find it. So it is building that behaviour for seeking out that information and that knowledge, which is pretty cool. And then there is a report. I am going to get started.
James: [01:19:02] I have already got one homeless person that was quick in your report.
Nico: [01:19:06] I think there are five. I am going to get started on building what I can.
Megha : [01:19:13] Yep. So while Nico figures out the bases of his refugee camp, I am just going to acknowledge chat for a little bit, who I think Greg Paul said he is currently working on three student game projects simultaneously.
James: [01:19:28] Wow.
Megha : [01:19:29] So good luck with that. And he says kudos to the team for for completing their project. And I as well will reiterate that this game did win best student game. And I will also mention that the students worked with Sunrise Studios who have, if I will, probably put up a link to our socials if I can. They have a call to action page on their website, which urges all the players, people playing and people reading up about the game to be more informed about the refugee crisis and all of that. So what else do you think, James? Because obviously you can put in like I think some of the other games that we have played have put in places where you can donate to charities and and things like that. What else can game developers, aside from making a game that is very informative at its base level to be more, how should I say to like additional resources that a game developer can either build into their game or give as a resource for their players to be more impactful about issues like this?
James: [01:20:43] Yeah, I guess it depends on the game and the issue that they are trying to tackle and what behaviour the game might be trying to motivate is it motivate someone to action or to pledge that they are going to change their own behavior around sustainability? Is it that they need to learn more and it may be looking to get donations towards particular good causes and stuff like that. I think finding ways to do that with as little friction as possible is at least a goal of the serious game developer, ideally included within the framework of the game itself. Obviously that can be difficult when we are talking about donations, not for profits and stuff like that, but any time that it is refer out to a website and you are going to get a percentage of people that maybe drop off and hoping that you are trying to build as much of your game and funnel players into being in the right frame of mind, the right spot to decide that they are going to make a difference, they are going to change. They are going to pledge to do something different I think, and making it fit within the framework of the game as much as possible. If the content of the game is about refugees and refugee crises, and you are linking that out to real world materials, you know, you can do some fun things like in-game advertisements and stuff are pulling from real world news headlines or feeding that kind of information in there is a lot more powerful than anything that is maybe feeling kind of forced or around the edges or, hey, we have got a news ticker of these things to support. I am sure like in terms of impact, if we are measuring the success by how many dollars are donated, I am sure if you are AAA, you know, Assassin's Creed something or Call of Duty something put like a $2 store item in their Microtransaction store. They would do millions of dollars worth of donations in in a day. So I think there is a lot of different tools available for the game development team. And I think bringing it as close to the core play experience as possible, if the goal is behaviour change is how you hopefully going to get the most players to change their mind or change what they are doing.
Nico: [01:23:04] I think one thing I have just noticed is that I thought it was weird that I was running around in a first person perspective and then like opening up the tablet to do a city building game. But I think it is to build empathy with the people so that you are not just some all seeing eye that is managing this refugee camp. You kind of walk around and you speak to people. And like quality of the water is significantly going down. Like, one of the main ways that you gather information about what you should do next is by speaking to people, which I think is just a good distinction between other city building games and this game.
James: [01:23:40] Yeah, well, you may be relying on I will get my advisor to give me a report or I will just view some stats or info about the city that I have built or something like that. Like I am just looking at the metrics or whatever to change what my strategy is.
Megha : [01:23:57] I think someone in chat riffed off of something you said earlier, James, about micro-transactions and AAA games, who said Valorant's Pride Month Bundle is going to its LGBT support groups and apparently they raised a lot of money for it.
James: [01:24:12] Yeah, I bet they have and I think it is great that games are utilizing their reach and channelling some potential profits towards good causes. I am sure there is a lot of money at the top, a lot of room at the top. Some successful games can be very, very successful. And figuring out where to channel that towards something that the game development team or the kind of game develop the game theme might be passionate in supporting is super cool
Nico: [01:24:46] I just realized if I go and talk to everybody, then I get insights about them. So [emerging] alone presently with some trouble with my community, we have at least one [sixth] due to low levels of water and food.
James: [01:25:02] Refugee camp is becoming a bustling metropolis.
Nico: [01:25:07] Yeah. I never figured out how to like get food and water. I think I just have to.
James: [01:25:13] They are not going to be important truly.
Nico: [01:25:15] Well, I mean, I have built a kitchen. Maybe I should go, like, check out the kitchen. But the people need to donate food, and I am just waiting for people to donate. That is what I remember from last time. I might just [repair that. Maybe. Let us put down some more tents].
James: [01:25:36] So this game probably cringing on you right now.
Nico: [01:25:39] Probably.
Megha : [01:25:40] So this game is also quite interesting because it is talking about something that is very real, but it is doing it in a fictional setting. And the executive producer at the studios, her name is Lily Lubin, said that when the students were making this game, even though they did visit refugee camps and things like that, to do a lot of first-hand research, they felt like a lot of these stories want this to tell. And the reason for using the science fiction theme was to get a more allegorically experience o the refugee camp and the refugee crisis. So how do you think how effective is it to portray a topic like this in this kind of setting, this kind of fictional setting, but still trying to have it have the impact that it needs to have?
James: [01:26:29] Yeah, I think, it can be a good choice for a few reasons. Like, you definitely do not want to be in that uncanny valley of, like, not being able to portray a realistic story accurately enough to do it justice. I think giving yourself a fantasy world can allow players to kind of let some guards down or maybe not be bringing a lot of bias or baggage from reality to say, Oh, that would never happen. Like they would never donate food like this, or you'd never set up a camp in this way kind of thing. You have a bit of control for it to not be perfect. And I think that a lot of the what you might want players to take away from the experience is not about it being perfectly matching or mirror to reality. Again, it is that kind of building of empathy or at least understanding at a high level, maybe the challenges that either refugees in these camps might face or even the people that are trying to staff and run and coordinate these camps face. I think it allows you to also maybe give a different perspective or a fresh perspective coming at it from from a different angle in terms of maybe people are sick of hearing updates about the refugee crisis and this or maybe people have a particular bias or personal experience that we are attaching to people that come from a particular background, being able to remove all of that and just get to hopefully the core of the issue without maybe triggering people's like past experiences that are maybe going to prevent them from learning or prevent them from seeing past it, I think can be quite effective.
Megha : [01:28:17] I think Greg Paul in chat also says adding a layer of friction is very important because any topic has a lot more information attached to it. So fiction helps you focus on the important bits. And he also said that if it were humans instead of aliens, the models of the humans would have been a huge issue to overcome, which is, I think, something you also mentioned.
James: [01:28:37] Yeah, well, I think, you know, work with the budget and the team and the people that you have available. And certainly I think it can be easier to achieve some alien refugees that players are able to build empathy with and some low poly models of people that don't have the right facial expressions to achieve essentially the same thing.
Megha : [01:29:04] So us as a game studio, as I mentioned, we have made transformational games and we have helped with like social impact games and things like that with the Australian government and several universities and some international not for profits. So we are at an interesting intersection of game development in that sense because we also do not just make games for entertainment, we make them for a purpose. So what else do you think? What other global issues do you think our games specifically explore? Like Chaos Theory.
James: [01:29:39] Yeah. I mean, it is a real mixed bag with the projects that we have worked on. And it can vary from year to year. I think that the whole team is pretty passionate about sustainability and kind of science or STEM education, generally speaking. And if there is any projects that tick those boxes, then the ones that we usually jump on. Recently it has been a lot of kind of education and training even in the kind of like medical or pharmaceutical spheres and how games can help with better adherence or with being more effective in training or onboarding and stuff like that as well, bringing games into the classroom so that kids are able to maybe learn or retain or stay focused better. I think it is a always interesting set of problems to solve, always different set of problems to solve, I think month to month, but certainly if we got to pick, you know, the clients that come in the door, something related to Nick, I would probably say go into space. You know, Kerbal Space Program would be great, but I think a lot of kind of sustainability and behaviour change around sustainability and energy conservation and reducing wastefulness are things that we keep pretty close to our heart.
Megha : [01:31:10] Yeah, and if I can pull Nico away from city building.
James: [01:31:14] He is in city planning grid. It is perfect.
Nico: [01:31:17] I mean, I am doing way better than I did. Like, when I learnt all the controls, everything fell apart. But I think I am doing all right. I realize that you need, like.
James: [01:31:30] Need food?
Nico: [01:31:31] You need a water pump and a, what is this, a hygiene station for every, like, three houses? Pretty much. So you just need lots of them. And like a medical centre for every, like, six or seven houses. Basically. Anyway, yes. You got a question?
Megha : [01:31:52] He is back here. He is back to reality.
James: [01:31:55] He is channelling his 4000 hours on civ.
Nico: [01:31:59] Yeah.
Megha : [01:32:00] So I would say like because the games we have played before this and this game and the game we are going to play after this have a lot of diverse topics maybe that we do not have that kind of personal experience with. How do you think our team would go about making a game that we do not necessarily have that kind of experience with? Would you consider making a game that we do not have that experience with at all?
James: [01:32:26] Yeah, I think it is important to make sure that those voices are in the room and are involved in making important decisions. And that can look anything like hiring new people to make sure that there is that kind of level of representation maybe for our team. And more commonly it is kind of consulting with kind of subject matter experts or affected audiences or making sure that we have got players and focus groups that we are talking to very early in the kind of conceptual phases to say, like, if we approach it in this way, is this something that you think might be good or give us your ideas for what you think might be a good solution to this? So I think having the voices in the room is important and it is not something that we would shy away from hopefully too much because of a lack of experience. I think it is important to be able to empathize and put yourself in someone else's shoes and be able to build experiences for people that are not yourself and for problems that you have not necessarily faced. But definitely making sure that you are doing that in a way that is effective. And I think that yeah, just for us, like constant or as much as possible feedback from players like iterations, let us get them involved in play testing and really get their input on what is going to be a good solution. Because we have had plenty of projects where the players have been the ones that have come up with all the good ideas. You are just going to be there to listen and be like, Oh, that would be good. I think I know a way that we could do that in the game. So yeah, making sure that they have a seat at the table.
Nico: [01:34:14] I would say yeah, quite often or always there are people that are more experienced than we are and they are subject matter experts and usually we are working with them on projects. And I think what we bring to the table is where game design and game development experts and we figure out how to facilitate the process of what ideas should we be focusing on? What is the core of the experience? What are the key pieces of information? And once we have that sort of high level information about what the subject is or the problem that we are looking to solve, we can then start to work together and come to them with some ideas around, well, this game format might help deliver this type of experience or the content that you want to deliver would fit really well into a narrative game or a city building game and then once everybody is on the same page, it is really the players and or the end users that tell you if it is good or what should change or it is not good and you should fix it. All those sorts of fun conversations.
Megha: [01:35:21] True. And just to acknowledge that we have got another fan in the chat, Guriqbal, who said that he loves our work. So another fan, nice to have you here. And someone mentioned, I think bellethebookworm, mentioned that she would have loved authority. I am not saying that I know your pronouns, that they would have loved to seen your first run with this game because this one looks too smooth.
Nico: [01:35:47] I am surprised with how well this is running. There is a death counter up in the top, right? So there is your sort of [0/8]. Basically if eight people die, then you lose the game. And this is the graveyard. And it did not go well. But I am a lot more prepared and understanding what is going on with these people. I mean, I just think the really simple addition of like. When I first opened this up, I wanted to know information about what do I need to be building more of or less of? Like, where are the overlays? and like open up an overlay and you can see that anybody that I have not talked to is all question mark. And I was like, This game is useless. It is not telling me the information I need, but in reality it was. I just need to go and talk to them and ask them questions about how they are feeling. It is shelter good for me right now and oh well, I need to build more shelter. Or there are people that are stuck outside. Like I need to upgrade the admin centre so that you can process more people.
James: [01:36:58] Yeah.
Nico: [01:36:59] Just little kind of game design tricks where you are building those those behaviours into people in the simulated environment. The tricky part is how do you translate that over to the real world? But I think it is essentially just making sure that there is a strong parallel between the real world content or behaviour that you are looking to have the player exhibit and what they do in the game. And once they practice that, once they know that behavior, you just make a link between the two and point out any areas where the real world is just like the thing that you have played and then that connects the two and makes learning the real world activity a lot, a lot easier.
James: [01:37:49] The lightbulb clicks.
Nico: [01:37:51] Yeah. All right.
Megha: [01:37:53] So Guriqbal107, again in chat has a question. He said he would love to get the team's opinion on this, tackling serious issues, example, mental health awareness as a sub focus, even though the gameplay is not necessarily focused on that. So, he says, is an example a general role playing game, having a SideQuest, exploring a blind NPCs travels through life. So what is your opinion on that?
James: [01:38:20] I think. I would d say if it is in that example of like a SideQuests and it is not the focus of the game, it is probably more about. Diversity and inclusion, the necessarily like tackling sensitive topics. I think it is just trying to make your game mold realistic potentially. And you know if you are in whatever RPG and every quest is for, I do not know, able bodied people or people that are not thinking about this, it is not really a accurate reflection on maybe the society at the time or the real world. And there are some more interesting problems and maybe SideQuests and challenges that come from being able to tackle things or a more diverse range of quests that come from people that are neuro-divergent or have different backgrounds and are maybe going to be approaching these problems in different ways.
James: [01:39:12] So I think it makes your game world probably more interesting and maybe more relatable. Maybe there is that 10%, 20% of your your players or something that maybe have a history of mental illness and they see that and they are like, Oh wow, this game speaks to me. Like, I have found something in this that I have a strong connection to, or I feel that the developer understands me and I think that helps to maintain interest in the game and maybe that is towards something completely separate. Maybe it is an entertainment game that just features this on the side, but I think that it helps with that representation aspect. You know, more people feel themselves, you know, visualized or can see where they might fit into this game world in a way that feels real.
Megha: [01:39:59] Yeah.
Nico: [01:39:59] I definitely agree. I think it is good and beneficial on a lot of different levels, and I think it is a really good argument for why we should have diverse game development teams, because it does make the world more interesting and real and like the amount of kind of boring fetch quests where it is like kill 20 rats and like pick 20 like leaves of trees like it can just be a simple like narrative layer on top of those at the very basic level. But it just adds like, I guess, a depth to the world that makes it just feel more interesting, more engaging, and I think introduces us to certain ideas. Certain people can relate to it. I think games that are entirely focused on those social issues are great and like we should have both essentially like all of the above build all of the things.
Megha: [01:40:56] Build all the good games.
Nico: [01:40:57] Is my mantra in life.
Megha: [01:40:59] So he says he has asked the question because in his game development experience, he struggled with wanting to add something but having a fear of it, feeling out of place.
Nico: [01:41:09] Yeah. And that is so hard. And I guess if it is something that you have got personal experience of and it is something that you feel like you can talk about with confidence or, you know, somebody that can talk about it with confidence. I think you just need to put in the work to make sure that it does fit. I think is the the short answer to that. It is probably not going to be easy, but and you have got to put it in there, you have got to work with like players, figure out if it works or does not work. You will get mixed results. Like some people hate it, some people will love it. I do not know. It is a bit of a creative decision at the end of the day. And if it is meaningful to you or somebody that you care about, then it could be worth the time and effort investment in actually figuring out how to make it work.
James: [01:41:59] Yeah. And I think this is where like kind of pick your battles and a game does not have to be everything to everyone is important. One exercise that a lot of game teams or design teams run through is kind of defining the pillars for your game. Like, what are the most important things? What how would you describe the kind of player experience? What are the most important things we have to get right? And they can take a lot of time to define and really make sure that the team feels and understands it. But then having this clear picture of the pillars could be broad adverbs or things like exploration or like combat or like the strategy is always fair kind of things. And you can then ask yourself when you are making decisions about, do I add this? Do I not? Is it supporting one of my pillars or is it superfluous? And if you are in a small team like you cannot do everything like we were talking about before, if you have got a consult with subject matter experts to make sure that content that you do not have personal experience in is represented correctly. If you are, let us add mental health issues, let us add, you know, race issues, let us add gender issues into this. And I have got to get consultants for all of this because I do not have personal experience with all of this. You know, you are maybe stretching your focus potentially too thin unless your game is specifically about all of these things. And I think having a more targeted, more focused and hopefully more effective message is going to be a much better game or a much better experience than a kind of like scatter gun and maybe all shades lead to brown kind of thing.
Megha: [01:43:45] Yep.
Nico: [01:43:47] Definitely 100% pick your battles like and 100% agree with that. Good point, James. Well said.
Megha: [01:43:55] So I think with that also, Nico, I think you need to stop city building.
Nico: [01:44:01] No, no I need to go around and talk to the community, one second. We can end this. So, I mean, would you like a summary report of of how we have been going?
Megha: [01:44:11] Yeah.
Nico: [01:44:11] All right. We have been going great team. I have been spending a little too much-
James: [01:44:16] How many dead?
Nico: [01:44:17] No dead. And there is this diplomacy menu where we exit that report.
James: [01:44:24] We know homeless.
Nico: [01:44:25] We have 115 people in the camp. No homeless, no dead. Which big plus [Q times] low and I mean it has required my my entire focus, but the approach that I have taken is build way too many facilities for everybody and build all of the things.
Megha: [01:44:50] Build all of the things is is a good approach.
Nico: [01:44:53] But I did fail miserably the first time and I have had certain realizations around you should consult with people, you should speak to the people that are just trying to help.
James: [01:45:01] Build way too many facilities for the people that you need us for.
Nico: [01:45:04] Yeah, well, I guess I was bringing my existing knowledge and context to this game when I first played it, where I thought that people would be able to like walk from one side of the map to the other. And I was like trying to build little districts and say, we need one medical tent for like 100 people. But those ratios were not right and I had not spoken to the people. So I was making these assumptions and they were wrong. And I really needed to not do that.
Megha: [01:45:34] Yeah.
Nico: [01:45:35] Which is what I did this time and it has worked out alright.
Megha: [01:45:39] So I think.
James: [01:45:39] The people you are trying to help, I am surprised.
Nico: [01:45:42] Thank you two for talking and keeping everybody entertained.
Megha: [01:45:45] Yeah, I guess bellethebookworm in chat also says he sounds like he is fascinated by his own performance because last time went so bad.
Nico: [01:45:52] I am genuinely surprised. I thought I was going to fail miserably, which is why I was so intent at the start. All right. I need to plan this out. Like I cannot have too many deaths on my hands here on live stream.
Megha: [01:46:05] I think Chat knows us too well because guriqbal107 just said I did good. This feels wrong, Nico probably.
Nico: [01:46:13] Certainly.
Megha: [01:46:14] All right. So again, a huge congrats to Sunrise Studios and the students at Drexel University for creating this game. It plays really well. It is very, very like.
James: [01:46:26] This is going to be the most complete student game I have seen in a long time.
Nico: [01:46:29] It is funny, they have still got the unity like default character controller in there where like, I do not know, it feels really like floaty and then they have left jump in there. But you can jump like this high. So it is like kind of.
James: [01:46:45] Gravity on that plane that is really extreme.
Nico: [01:46:47] Yeah, most people would not realize that. But I mean, that is not what the game is about, right? Like the game is about the pillars that they picked were obviously not like the most refined gameplay, not like a super engaging narrative. It was we want to create an experience that makes you empathize with people, go and speak to people and meet their needs. And it is all about the people and the logistics of constructing and maintaining and supervising a refugee camp. You will play this one?
James: [01:47:24] Sure.
Megha: [01:47:24] So again, it is available on Windows, Mac and Linux Systems. Everyone, please go play resilience. And with that, we are going to get into our final game for the night, which is change. It is a homeless survival experience. And for people watching, I just want to give a bit of I think it is a bit of a trigger warning. Just a warning in general. This game is not like the other games that we have played. It is very, very much set in its dark, kind of depressing theme. And it obviously does it for a reason. And you guys will see the reason and why it is very necessary for this game's mechanics for it to be this real and very, very down like that. So the game developers, Delve Interactive, it took them five years of research and commitment and hard work and a lot of them, like I said, it is a homeless survival experience. A lot of them actually did experience homelessness and that is what inspired them to work so hard to make this game as real as it is which is also why I will again say for anyone who may be a bit more susceptible to feeling a lot of these emotions, just be warned that it does get very, very bleak. So the game, if you guys do want to try it out for yourselves, it is available on steam Itch.io and GOG. Have you guys heard of this game or played it before?
James: [01:48:59] I have not.
Nico: [01:49:00] Yeah, you mentioned it to me and described some of the reviews, the steam reviews, which were pretty impactful. So I know the theme and I know what people think about it.
James: [01:49:19] Oh, escape to a new life to unlock mental illness. Oh, boy. Oh, addict survive many addiction maladies to unlock nice survive for 12 days to unlock veteran. So default experience we are just.
Nico: [01:49:31] We start with $5. We are in poverty.
James: [01:49:43] Visage, all right. This is just my little character, customizing.
Nico: [01:49:55] I mean, that is right off the bat, a pretty powerful opening screen. Like, how did you get into homelessness? I am already covering what I presume are the main causes of homelessness.
James: [01:50:12] And even in this opening slide, like. I think a lot of attitudes towards homelessness can be like, Oh, it is their fault or why they lazy, why they are not working kind of thing. Like for a lot of people, homelessness is not, something that they chose or in the case of this story here, like spending all of the money that they saved because their parents were in a car accident. Like, that is not something that you would wish on anyone.
Nico: [01:50:38] Yeah.
James: [01:50:40] Find food and shelter, get a job, rent a home. It is the rules of life.
Nico: [01:50:44] So it sounds so easy. I am guessing that it is going to be incredibly difficult.
James: [01:50:49] Roguelike experience about escaping to a new life. Each play will be different. Ooh. Okay. Randomized cities. Let us go.
Megha: [01:51:00] So I found it quite interesting that the game is titled A Homeless Experience. So that word experience, Why do you think that distinction has to be made between having a game that is just gameplay for gameplay and having something that you know is going to hit you so hard that you have to title it experience.
Nico: [01:51:23] I think that experience almost feels more a bit more like an umbrella term of like. Gameplay implies that it is a game that you are playing. Experience is not necessarily tethered to the same connotations of it is fun or like it is a play thing. It is just a broader term that can be used similar to what we were talking about I think with Papers Please. And it is not fun, it is an engaging experience. So I think just having that distinction of it is a simulation or it is an experience where it is again setting people's expectations. It is like, why do we have a dark depressing theme and mood? It is so that people do not feel this sort of jarring experience when you deal with some of the themes and situations that we are going to deal with in this game.
James: [01:52:26] Right off the bat, we have gotten yelled at by the police twice.
Nico: [01:52:29] What are you up to?
James: [01:52:32] A bank. No thanks. Shops. Well. What do we got? £5. Crisps. Pest repellent. Let us get some crisps. Just one packet. And the stress of having $5 in your pocket.
Nico: [01:52:58] And needing to choose what to spend it on.
James: [01:53:01] Fingerless gloves. Oh, God. They spend. Increases steal success, right? So quiet. Go.
Nico: [01:53:13] I have been that person for sure.
James: [01:53:18] Saying you have only got card.
Nico: [01:53:19] Because I have only got a card. But it, it feels very, very different being on the other side of it.
James: [01:53:26] Yeah. All right, so what have I got? Hunger, happiness, hygiene. People be less, kind of get slower. That is realistic. Probably, right. Getting all of this scrap on the side of the road, which I think I cannot carry more than 25, but I can exchange for cash at a recycling depot. We got oh man, apples so expensive restores hygiene.
Megha: [01:53:58] That might be good to have.
James: [01:53:59] Yeah, yeah. A bit of a save, still wet wipes not the ideal hygiene cure here. Paper and no numbers. Oh, boy. Police are back. If you get caught, you will be moved on. You are cold and wet. Happiness is decreasing.
Nico: [01:54:23] And is there somewhere that you can shelter? Laundry?
Megha: [01:54:29] I think that maybe like public toilets that you could take shelter in, there are somewhere.
James: [01:54:37] I will run away from the cops. What is this?
Nico: [01:54:40] Oh, boy.
James: [01:54:41] Oh, that is a drinking fountain.
Megha: [01:54:43] No, I think your hygiene is at 100 now.
James: [01:54:45] Yeah. Still not going to help me get any change. Oh, thank you. We got one nice person on the street. One Samaritan.
Nico: [01:54:57] Oh, cops perk begging.
James: [01:55:05] Happiness gains from successful begging slightly increases success rate. Let us go with that one.
Megha: [01:55:12] So we were talking about how the community was also rallied around this game. Oh, no. You fell ill.
James: [01:55:20] Oh, no. It was good.
Nico: [01:55:23] We are sick.
James: [01:55:23] It was worth it.
Megha: [01:55:25] Yeah. So the how the community rallied around this game and I have got some of the steam comments which I think are super interesting to read through just because of, like I said, how just how real this game is. And probably for a lot of people, how stark real it is.
Nico: [01:55:43] I think you mentioned that the developers almost fell into homelessness or something.
Megha: [01:55:49] Yeah.
Nico: [01:55:49] And then that is how they like, that is why they wanted to make this game. And then it took them like five years or something.
Megha: [01:55:55] Five years of research and everything. They wanted to make sure that every single aspect of this game was as close, like it has close to home for a lot of people as possible. And I think that is what also makes it quite hard to play through.
James: [01:56:12] Oh boy that destroyed my hygiene. But I am full. And so pretty much the rest of my money.
Megha: [01:56:19] Oh, no.
James: [01:56:20] I've got 15 minutes to find shelter. Oh, boy.
Megha: [01:56:26] So someone said that being a former foster youth, then obviously being through periods of homelessness, the game has helped them work through their trauma and gave them the feeling that they were maybe helping somebody else in the same situation as they also face. So in that way, it was super personal for them.
James: [01:56:51] All right. We are back up, Don. Happiness is not taking too much of a hit.
Nico: [01:56:57] Where did you sleep?
James: [01:56:58] On the streets.
Megha: [01:57:00] Oh. This soundtrack is also, it hits home.
James: [01:57:09] You have got the strings going.
Nico: [01:57:11] Yeah.
James: [01:57:14] Oh, that is cool. You need to find this recycling depot.
Nico: [01:57:23] Give him a dollar. Give me a last dollar. James.
James: [01:57:25] No.
Nico: [01:57:27] James.
James: [01:57:27] Oh, my God. My hunger is going down so fast.
Nico: [01:57:31] This game is about empathy.
James: [01:57:32] Give it a wash.
Nico: [01:57:33] Oh, boy.
James: [01:57:34] Back at 100 new Perk Street. More choices, slightly increase happiness gains. Charity events happen more often in shelters. I have not found a shelter yet.
Nico: [01:57:46] Give me a dollar, James.
Megha: [01:57:51] So I think another person has left another review, said the game impacted them so much that they now regularly, probably every month donate money to a shelter, charity or something similar. And I also know that Delve Interactive, the developers of this game have like 20% of the profits from this game are actually donated to charities, also focused on homelessness issues. So I think I mentioned even with resilience, they have like call to actions and things on that pages that lead out to resources and things like that that tell people, okay, these are ways you can help and these are ways you can learn about these kinds of very important issues. Do you think initiative like that is what encourages people to play games like this, which is otherwise so bleak? Like, of course, like with this game, we do know that there are a lot of other people that played this game because it revolved around things like learned experiences that they have also had. But aside from that, people who may not have those learned experiences or personal experiences, is it initiative that helps somebody play a game like this, or do you think it is more than that?
Nico: [01:58:58] I think, yeah. Interesting, I guess. Question in terms of because we have been in a similar position of we worked on a game called [bleached] and donated 15% of ad revenue, I think from that towards planting trees to capture carbon out of the atmosphere. And it was not at least our justification behind that was not to get more downloads. It is certainly like a component of the reason it is a positive game and like one of the reasons why we want people to play it is you can have a real world impact. I think it is part of it is we are making a game about the subject matter and we want to do something that helps, like on a more of a material level. So yeah, what can we do in the real world to help people or give back in some way? And I think what is the right amount to give is also a really interesting question because I think the power of games is to change people's behavior, to start conversations, to get people inspired about a particular subject. And I think you need to make as much money back as possible because that allows you to make the next game. And most games, the majority of games do not make the money back or they lose lose money. So trying to keep that money so that we can keep doing that, so you can keep making games and create games that inspire other people to give to a charity every single month.
Megha: [02:00:34] Yeah
Nico: [02:00:34] So I think it is a component to it. And personally, I think we did it because it felt like the right thing to do. And we wanted to have that sort of material impact where we could look at it and say, like through playing this game, we did X, Y and Z personally and kind of leading from the front of this is a charity that you should be giving to it to.
Megha: [02:00:56] I think James just got moved to a new,
James: [02:00:59] And I am still hungry. Just eating a few bags of chips is not enough. Yeah, I have been starving.
Nico: [02:01:09] Oh, we will go to the shops. Oh, there is a copper. Watch out. This is traffic cop. Yeah.
James: [02:01:16] Oh, boy. Oh, yeah.
Nico: [02:01:18] I told you I warned you.
James: [02:01:20] Look, Nico, that is [cross talk] luck. Juice. One happiness. This is a joke. Do I waste an hour washing? All right. We need to find shelter in the next three in-game hours. Oh, yeah. I found a recycling depot, so I have got £5. We have got more money than what we started with. Yeah, today is special. £5.
Nico: [02:01:47] Oh, my.
James: [02:01:47] Gourmet. Oh, we are full, full of hunger. All right, it is time to find somewhere to sleep. It has been a good day.
Nico: [02:01:56] Yeah. Why has it been a good day James?
James: [02:01:59] Look at this. All bars close to full.
Nico: [02:02:01] Yeah, but what have you done? What have you accomplished today?
James: [02:02:04] I have eaten a meal. Oh, boy. Come on. Where is shelter? Where is shelter? Man, this randomly generated town.
Nico: [02:02:16] Not a lot of places for homeless people to sleep.
James: [02:02:18] Nope.
Megha: [02:02:20] It is 9 p.m..
James: [02:02:21] Going on the streets again. It is going to get cold.
Megha: [02:02:24] So I think one of the biggest game mechanics for this is that it does feel quite frustrating to play. Like, I think James would probably be able to answer this better because he has been going through it. It is like even if you have those small wins, like you were saying, like, Oh, I have got like more money that I started with than you immediately had to spend it all to survive that night. So it is genuinely frustrating those highs and lows.
James: [02:02:46] Yeah.
Megha: [02:02:46] What do you think? Like it feels like it is kind of a game where it makes people want to quit, but obviously that is not the intention. What is that putting that kind of mechanic into a game that makes it so frustrating that you want to quit, but at the same time, you know you have to do these lived experiences?
James: [02:03:03] Yeah, I mean, I think it maybe harks back to something we were talking about a little bit earlier in the stream of just maybe moment to moment. Gameplay is not meant to be fun. And I think that, you want to build that sense of frustration to make it feel real and maybe to not trivialize the experience that you are conveying through gameplay. Get him, rub him.
Nico: [02:03:28] Watch out.
James: [02:03:30] So I can pick up recycling around him.
Nico: [02:03:33] Sorry to interrupt. Why do not you not get caught?
James: [02:03:37] Okay, man, the hunger goes down so quickly. Starve myself between seven and 10 in the morning.
Nico: [02:03:45] So you are saying gameplay does not necessarily to be fun? Frustrating?
James: [02:03:50] Yeah. Well, I think it is a useful like games are probably one of the few experience. Well, I mean, I think there are, you know, maybe books that you can read or movies that you can watch that are going to make you feel maybe deeply uncomfortable as well. But it is the frustration is part of the experience. It is what the developer wants you to feel and you are moving from tiny win to tiny win, but trying to beat back the inevitable where it is like even running around town all day and scrounging as best I can for all these scraps essentially is not enough to stave off my progress here. You know, I am always fighting for food, and I am sure that is the kind of thought pattern that the development team may be trying to emulate in their players through making the mechanics frustrating.
Nico: [02:04:46] Well, rude.
Megha: [02:04:48] So I think the one of the developers for this game said that it would have probably been easier to make any other game would probably be an entertainment game or just something like point click idle game type of thing. But it meant something more to put in the effort and make a game like this. What do you think about that statement?
Nico: [02:05:08] I definitely think making a game about a serious subject matter, you have really got to immerse yourself in it and just speak to people, understand the subject matter that you're that you are creating a game. And like it would be so depressing, like creating all of the perks around like speaking to homeless people would be like, all right, well, what do you need to get by? It is oh, being a heavy sleeper or that allows you to get through or strong stomach being able to eat things that have been. It would just be a real rollercoaster of a time speaking to everybody. I can definitely empathize with needing to kind of go down to that dark path in order to make this game. I do not think it would be easy.
James: [02:06:00] And I think one of, you know, games are incredibly hard to make and incredibly hard to make well. And one of the I guess experiences that makes that feel more maybe bearable is the fact that you do get to play it and have fun. Maybe as a team we get to do play tests here at Chaos Theory when where we have something that's that's ready for feedback. And the experience of getting around to kind of like play something together is fun and part of the, I guess, enjoyment of the experience of making games. If playing the game itself was stressful and like having to play test is also like confronting or you're always like mildly stressed or anxious by just going through kind of the content or making sure that it works. I think that just does add that additional layer of not only you doing an undertaking that's really hard to do and really hard to do well, but like all of the work, you know, I guess it maybe feels similar to other confronting frontline work. Maybe like social work where you're always confronted with things that are really going to tax your, you know, emotional bandwidth, essentially. Yeah.
Nico: [02:07:14] They also worked on it for five years. So I think that that would, that would just be a lot.
Megha: [02:07:21] Yeah.
Nico: [02:07:22] But I think going back to potentially the positive side of this, of it has had this huge impact on people's lives because it was a lot of work to do, because there's a lot of work that's gone into this because it's so grounded in speaking to people, hearing their stories. It feels real because it's a game, it's interactive, and you can set up that little bit of preamble that sets the scene of you going into this into this story. And like, you're somebody that's down on their luck and you personally feeling that rejection of like stop being so pushy or like, yeah, like don't have any change or get away from me sort of stuff. It's has this meaningful impact on people's lives and a lot of good on them is all I think for putting in that effort. And yeah, it's great that there was a team or a team or an individual. I feel like it's team.
Megha: [02:08:22] It's a team. It's a team. Yeah.
Nico: [02:08:23] A team that felt so passionately about the subject matter and wanted to share that with other people.
Megha: [02:08:32] Very true. I think with that, James, if you're good, we can wrap up for the night.
James: [02:08:39] I'm not good. Well, actually, up until then. I was doing all right. Yeah. We can wrap up. After I pick my book, I run away from the place.
Megha: [02:08:53] So again, once again, credit to the developers of interactive and this game is available on steam itch.io and gog. Please go experience the game for yourselves as as it's meant to be. Its James seems to be doing strangely well.
Nico: [02:09:13] I don't know if it's strangely well. He started out very much in a similar position to where it was when he started the game.
James: [02:09:20] Yeah, just a little bit less happy and a lot less clean. Yeah. Until we take a wash in the public bathrooms. Therefore.
Megha: [02:09:30] Yeah.
James: [02:09:31] It's good to get to day 12 to unlock the next character. That is a challenging game.
Nico: [02:09:36] And there are 153 perks.
James: [02:09:38] Geez, it'd be a superpowered homeless person by the time you've got 153 of these perks.
Megha: [02:09:46] Also. So you'd think.
James: [02:09:48] I'm sure it just gets even more challenging.
Megha: [02:09:53] All right, then. That is our last game for the night.
James: [02:10:01] Nice. Menus.
Nico: [02:10:04] That's your expertise.
Megha: [02:10:06] So what did you think of all the games that we have played today? What is your overall comment for the night?
Nico: [02:10:15] Heavy.
Megha: [02:10:15] Heavy.
Nico: [02:10:16] Yeah.
James: [02:10:17] I mean, it's a good variety. So thanks for doing all the research and picking them. I think a lot of games or types of games that I wouldn't normally play myself. Probably stuck in a little bit of a rut of I like my kind of action RPGs and I have a very familiar flavour with those. But I think yeah, I mean, plenty of diversity in how these different, I guess themes or topics are approached from like mechanics and game design point of view. And definitely I think something that I can check out a bit more of.
Nico: [02:10:55] Yeah, definitely. I think they were all very focused is how I described them. I think that was definitely a strength of all of all the projects where they knew what they were trying to do and they picked the right tools for the job. In terms of game design, game mechanics, narrative, like everything felt like it supported that core message and worked together really well. And yeah, I mean, just a really. I think the reason I said heavy is like it made me feel things for other people which I think is empathy. Empathy is what these games are all about. And it's why we selected this.
Megha: [02:11:38] That's the theme of the night we have succeeded.
Nico: [02:11:40] So yeah, nice.
Megha: [02:11:43] Nice. So again, we're grateful to everyone who's tuned in. Thank you to everyone in the chat for communicating with us. And hopefully this time I did a good a better job on communicating back. And once again, a very special thank you and congratulations to the accoladed game developers. We've got Lucas Pope who did Papers Please. WeatheredSweater for Dot's home. Sungrazer Studios and the students at Drexel University who did Resilience and finally Delve Interactive, who did CHANGE. Thank you for all of the hard work you did creating these games, researching these stories, and then putting it into such an amazing gameplay style that clearly has had the effect that it's intended to. We hope everyone who is watching will also download and experience these games for themselves and, you know, feel a little bit of that empathy that's meant to happen. And before we go again, I'd like to announce that our next Twitch livestream is a collab with the World Wildlife Fund. So look forward to that. That'll probably again be here in our Chippendale office, so they'll be coming to visit Besties. So their Australian livestream team is amazing. They've probably led the charge for companies doing livestreams like this and fundraising for the environment and everything like that, and that is actually what our team will probably be around. So look forward to that.
Nico: [02:13:16] Spoilers.
Megha: [02:13:17] Spoilers, a little bit spoilers. I mean, you never know. I might be lying. Who knows? Yeah. And if you haven't already, please follow us on Twitch and Instagram and Twitter and all the good stuff. Thank you, James and Nico, for joining me tonight.
Nico: [02:13:31] And thank you to our host and thank you to all of you.
Megha: [02:13:34] Thank you for everyone watching.
Nico: [02:13:36] For joining.
Megha: [02:13:36] Us. All right. Good night, everyone.
James: [02:13:38] Goodbye. See you.