As my kids grow up I’m aware that they need to build their own social networks. At the same time though I’m also aware how intense those relationships can be.
Grace’s Diary is an adventure game on the PC that raises issues around teen dating violence. Although it sounds kind of extreme, having played it I was surprised how much I learned about my own relationships as well as having some really useful conversations with my family about establishing healthy boundaries.
A friend of mine who writes for my family videogame blog took some time-out with the game and wrote up her thoughts. What emerges is a game that not only addresses a worthy educational topic, but one that is also a lot of fun to play. Here’s some of what she wrote in her game review…
Grace’s Diary was the winner of Jennifer Ann’s Group’s 2010 Life. Love. Game Design Challenge. This annual contest invites game designers to help raise awareness of the risks of teen dating violence. Grace’s Diary got under my skin by reminding me of my teenage years, and that anyone can get caught up in abusive or controlling situations. That’s an uncomfortable real-world truth to put under the scope, but well worth reflecting on.
Grace’s Diary is an interactive novel in a pencil-sketched style reminiscent of Hotel Dusk. As a game it’s short and simple, with lots of text. But also a great example of the teaching potential of serious games. Its microcosms replicate some unpleasant aspects of human relationships but also suggest tools for dealing with them.
Grace tells the story of trying to help her friend Natalie, who she suspects is involved in an abusive relationship. It’s far more serious than anything I’ve ever experienced, but still seems realistic.
There are multiple possible endings, so a happy conclusion for Natalie is not guaranteed. No matter what the outcome, the idea is to learn from the story. Taking on the role of a friend trying to help, encourages people to look out for warning signs. That idea remains relevant throughout life, and it’s a message I’m happy to see promoted.
I appreciated having the opportunity to reflect on these issues myself. I’m sure there are many other examples of this kind of educational gaming experience, why not share them in the comments?