Digital Narrative Games

1. Spent

This online game was designed to make players aware of how easy it is to become homeless. The game challenges players to “make it through” one month of life. You have no job, no home, and your savings are basically gone.

It was created by a partnership between the Urban Ministries of Durham and the advertising firm McKinney. Being an IMC major myself, I loved the initiative as soon as I found out about it from class. The motivation behind it is to raise awareness about unemployment, homelessness, and the need for social services.

I usually love digital narrative games, I even have one called “Episodes” on my phone. So obviously I was really excited to try this one out, little did I know it would have such an big impact on me. I knew that I would be put in difficult situations throughout the game but I did not realize it would feel this real.

So let me take you through my choices in the game. All of a sudden I had to pick between 3 jobs all of which are low income. Having the choice between being a waitress, an office temp and a warehouse associate, I picked the first one.

Always wanted to try being a waitress

The first time I played it, I ended up losing all my money in the first half of the month, I did not really think about my choices and was spending way too much. Then I decided to really take care and think about every decision I take and guess what, I ended the month with 469$! Don’t get too excited Roni, you have to pay rent tomorrow and you don’t have enough to cover it.

Honestly, I tried to have some morals during the game choices. For example, one question was about someone dropping 10$ on the ground and I had the choice between giving it back to them or taking it for myself. I am not gonna lie, it was hard. If I really had no money, I would obviously need any money I could find, and this fell from someone else’s pocket on the floor, I basically did not “take it” from them right? So, does this really count as stealing if I just take it? In the end, I decided to give it back to them. I thought to myself, I have to let it be as real as possible and deep down I believe that if I do good to others, it will eventually come back to me, even tho this did not happen in the game obviously but still. I really did answer as honestly as I could, I put rules to myself in the game, if its necessary I’ll try as much as I could to get it done. My kid’s education was a top priority for me in the game, because that’s what I think really matters. While playing this game I thought about my parents and how they sometimes sacrifice things for my happiness and honestly it felt really hard being put in poor person’s shoes.

2. BBC Syrian Refugees

I was not that excited about this game as the one before, I don’t know why. Maybe the format of the game was not that capturing for me. I did not feel attached or emerged in the game as I did in “Spent”. However, I still played the game. I tried it twice and both times I failed in reaching Europe.

However, I learned more about the struggles of being a refugee, and I think this applies to any nationality not only Syrian like in the game. It’s a really difficult position to be put in, all of a sudden having to leave everything behind and leave. In this game, you could try again as many times as you wanted if you failed, but in life, you only have one shot, one opportunity (yes, I started rapping Lose Yourself by Eminem) and you either succeed or lose everything, sometimes your life.

3. Bad News

This game is really interesting, specially right now with everything going on in the world. I liked playing the game and seeing what would increase my number of followers, etc. This game is really accurate, people online try to appeal to other people’s emotions sometimes just to get a reaction or a trend. A lot of influencers use clickbait nowadays just to get likes, shares and followers. Unfortunately, in a country like Egypt, most people are uneducated so they can easily believe anything they see online. It was a fun experience to try.

4. Responsible Partying Game

The topics present in this game are VERY important but alas the game format is extremely boring. It could have been done in a much interactive format. However, it felt like some people could learn a thing or two from it regarding sexual consent. Some guys unfortunately still don’t get it when someone says no. I relate to the scenario in the game because I’ve went to a lot of parties and been put in a situation where a stranger has come offered me a drink but I refused and I felt like that they took it in a bad way when they shouldn’t have. People, specially girls, need to take care at parties. It’s sad seeing a lot of young adults nowadays get drunk every weekend and recklessly drive home. In fact, last summer a friend of my friends passed away in Sahel due to drunk driving.

5. Sleep-Deprived Mom Game

This game felt really stressful because I can’t imagine how moms handle everything sometimes. I am just a student and a feel sleep deprived most of the time, so being also put in the position of handling another person and balancing between work and life sounds like an impossible job. I don’t know what the 10/14 mean anyways but I sure did not do a good job in that game. The choices were very hard and you had to sacrifice something either way.

6. Know Yourself

The title did not really prepare me for the questions, I thought the game was about something else but after all it was still nice. I have this problem of always jumping to conclusions, but lately I’ve been trying to change that. Even in the game, after assuming in the first question that my “boyfriend” was bored when all along he was preparing me a surprise, I felt really bad and tried to take a moment and think before taking any action in the questions. It’s a good chance for people to notice that they prejudge people sometimes.

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