Natural Tone is a narrative game, which obviously means that the storyline has to be strong and to a degree, easy to understand. What I don’t want is a game that is too complex or too easy or a game that depicts autism and anxiety in the wrong way. This is something that is difficult though as autism is a spectrum condition, meaning it is never the exact same from person to person.
Semiotics is defined as ‘the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation.’ in storytelling, you can use this notion to plan what is relevant or not to the theme of the story and how whatever you put into the story creates an idea or image. For example, I wouldn’t use an NPC to interact with Jade if it didn’t affect her or do anything in the game itself. Using relevant details and being very precise about the effect/affect method is how my partner and I created depth within the game.
Questions we asked before the design process:
- What challenges do I face as a person with autism?
- How does this affect me?
- What would you do in those situations?
- How can we take the above issues and gamify them in the correct way?
From that the went a little further using the semiotic approach…
- How do the avatar’s interactions with non-player characters (NPC’s) and environments affect her?
- How can we show how they affect her without her saying this?
- How much text is needed and is it relevant to the narrative?
- How can we highlight these issues AND promote neurodiversity and inclusion practises to the players?
- How can we make the player understand what it is like to be autistic while using a 3rd person view?
There are several changes that we have done throughout the course of the design process which makes for a more insightful game. It is imperative that serious games do research and foster a technical approach when designing games so that players take the right message from the game. In later posts, I will discuss these changes.