The link above will lead you to a Twine game I created dubbed “Snapshot”. The idea behind the game was to increase awareness about and help people understand what social anxiety feels like. I have some level of social anxiety and, from my perspective, I think most people acknowledge that social anxiety exists but don’t know what it’s like to have simple situations changed by its presence. For that reason, I chose to try to get my point across through Twine. Twine allows me to create decisions for the “player” to make that will change their story. I wanted the “player” to feel like they had close to the same level of autonomy as one would have in normal life. However, because you yourself have social anxiety in “Snapshot” I decided to take away some of that autonomy.
Since it’s quite difficult to describe in words what social anxiety feels like I decided to exploit the links in Twine to create frustration from the player as they try to navigate what seems like a normal day. It was easy to create extreme frustration but difficult to hold a balance between frustration and the story. Too much frustration would detract from the reader but too little wouldn’t make this story seem any different from any other story about a kid at college. I have what I think is a good balance, but there are still some aspects of living with social anxiety that I couldn’t figure out how to add, ironically they’re the same aspects that are hardest to explain.
I think it would have possible to do this through a locative game as well. If I had chosen that route, I would have instead focused on the environment around where you’re standing and describe what that feels like when you have social anxiety. Then, the player would have been able to compare how they feel currently with what I wrote within the game. There isn’t much value in walking around when it comes to my story; that only would have allowed me to talk about multiple places and situations that are fairly common. The main problem with using a locative media platform, such as 7scenes, would have been that the “player” never would have had to make a decision throughout the game, and that is one aspect that I feel like is vital to the story.
This is one story that is possible to tell through many mediums, but each medium would focus on a different aspect of social anxiety and be able to show a different viewpoint at the condition. Twine would focus on the decision making, a locative narrative would focus on how one views the environment around them, and something like a machinima story could be the equivalent of a movie where the main character has social anxiety. To me, the last option is probably the least viable in this sense because movies like those have been made already, but there is a possibility for new viewpoints to arise if the movie is made by someone who lives with social anxiety themselves. All in all, I think this is a topic that, along with all other mental health conditions, needs more attention and stories like “Snapshot” are a step in that direction.