We are developing third person narrative exploration games. Our UK focuses on Danielle, a 16-year-old girl. The story centres around her experiences and confusion while growing up in the age of social media where she finds herself in a relationship that becomes increasingly abusive.
Danielle is a first year student at her local college together with her childhood friends, Hannah and Emily. It’s a great time for Danielle; she’s finally been given freedom, responsibilities and the chance to meet new people, in fact she’s been lucky enough to meet a guy, James, and they’ve started dating. It’s new and exciting, exactly the way that love is supposed to be – the perfect romance!
At least, it was.
It started out innocently enough when James wanted to know who she was hanging out with and where she was going, but lately he’s been acting differently. He quickly becomes jealous when Danielle spends time with her friends instead of him and she’s beginning to worry about what might happen if she upsets him. Would things escalate further? How will he react? These are the hard questions that are starting to loom in Danielle’s mind, and her friends aren’t making it easier; Hannah keeps telling her to get rid of James but Emily says he’s just being protective.
This is the story of Danielle and James and how their relationship changes; play as Danielle as she struggles with self-esteem, peer pressure and strained friendships and help her make the choices that she may be too afraid to make for herself.
The game is being developed by a small team of artists, developers and a game designer. Both qualitative and quantitative research, undertaken as part of the Ni3 project, is being used to inform the game design. Development uses the latest Unreal Engine, to ensure quality, and utilises motion capture technology to make the characters feel more realistic and lifelike. This will give a stronger emotional response to the characters and story and improve the empathetic response.
The game will be trialled in schools across five days, with students aged between 14 and 18. Each day represents a chapter in the story and each chapter is played for approximately 20-30 minutes. Training will be provided to teachers on how to use the game, and a gameplay tutorial is built in for players as part of the story. The game is distributed on USBs which allow it to be played offline as well as facilitating the collection of anonymous data, to understand the effectiveness of the trial.
We are developing detailed lesson plans to support teachers in using the game as an educational tool. We will provide this to schools for free, along with the game, at the end of the project.
Danielle, age 16
I’ve just started college as a first year student – studying art, actually – together with my friends Hannah and Emily who I’ve known since we were kids. They’re good people, and if I’m being completely honest it was reassuring to actually know someone when I started college. I mean, it is kind of daunting starting somewhere new right?
I have made some new friends though, and I actually met a pretty great guy from the rugby team, James. We just got chatting one day after a match and as they say, the rest is history. I feel so lucky that James was interested in me – he could have been with anyone here!
We’ve only been dating a few weeks but it feels so natural. Sure he gets jealous but what guy doesn’t? Hannah is always telling me that he’s a bit controlling; I know she means well but it’s not like that at all.
At least, I don’t think it is.
James, age 17
I’m in my second year of college now, and things are going pretty well. I’m doing a sport development course and I’m on the rugby team so I actually spend most of my time training. It’s not all bad though, I met Kiran through rugby and we hang out a lot now – I even introduced him to Logan who I’ve known since I was a kid. The three of us are pretty close, though Kiran and Logan don’t always see eye to eye.
At one of our rugby matches a few weeks ago I met a cute first year student, Danielle, who seemed pretty cool; I actually asked her out not too long after that. I’m looking forward to telling my brother, he’s always bragging about what he’s doing at university!
The only problem is that Danielle doesn’t listen to me – I tell her to have lunch with me, and she goes off with her friends. She’s still hanging out with her guy friends too. How can she not understand that it’s embarrassing for me? How am I going to look to everyone else if my girl ignores me?
I’m sure she’ll get the message soon enough though.
Hannah, age 16
I’m glad high school is over and that we can finally concentrate on things that matter. I’ve felt like an adult for so long already, having to look after my little brother and all, which is why I’m interested in studying childcare here at college. It’s hard balancing everything in my life – college, babysitting and a part time job – but Danielle and Emily help me stay on track. That’s the benefit of coming to college with friends, you can rely on each other.
I think that’s why I’m a bit hard on Danielle, I feel like I’m definitely looking out for her when it comes to James. I’m just not sure what Danielle sees in him; he can be so rude to her and always seems to be telling her what to do. He needs to treat her better and stop being so controlling, or she needs to actually see him for who he is.
Emily, age 17
People don’t always take me seriously because they think I’m just a pretty face, but I’m so much more than that. I’m a trendsetter; I know what looks good and how it should be presented which is exactly why I’m studying marketing here at college. I love Hannah and Danielle, but they just don’t get it sometimes – you’ve got to look good to get places and bless them, but sometimes they just don’t.
Danielle is so lucky; she got James even despite her style! Every girl in college is jealous of her – I know I am – but I think she could try a bit harder for him. If she doesn’t, he’ll lose interest in her pretty quickly.
Still, if he does dump her that means I can have a go!
Kiran, age 17
Although I only met James and Logan in our first year of college, we’re a pretty tight group and have each other’s backs, even more so when James and I are on the rugby field. I enjoy hanging out one on one with James when we play squash too, Logan just doesn’t have the patience for it unfortunately.
I wish James would calm down a bit, he’s starting to behave irrationally with Danielle. She’s a decent person and could be a really good influence on James if he just let her. He tells her what to do so often and she actually goes along with it! One day she’ll up and leave him and he probably won’t even understand why. To be honest, I’m not sure how he would react if that happened either.
Logan, age 17
College has definitely been a lot harder for me than I expected, but I’ve managed to make up for it with the people I’ve met. I’ve known James since we were kids, and when he joined the rugby team he introduced me to Kiran. James had asked me if I wanted to try rugby myself, but I’m only interested in in going to watch the games to hit on girls. All in all, they’re pretty solid guys and it’s good to have people around you that you trust.
I was kind of surprised that James wanted to date Danielle, she seems like a very innocent sort of person – which is all right I guess – but if I know anything it’s that there are plenty of better girls out there. Besides, it’s too soon to be tied down!