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Inner Vision: The suicide prevention video game
08:14 am

The narrator, Yama, named for the Hindu god of death, berates your attempts to help the suicidal
Sunil Rao is studying Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago; he’s also as self-described “Gonzo game developer.” In the space of four weeks, Rao created “Inner Vision,” a game/art project/social statement that manages to defy all three categories. From his website:

The main goal of the game is to convince three people not to commit suicide. Each person has a personality, set of problems, and issues that are specific to their character. You, as the player, get to interact with each person, and need to extract information about the character through conversation. Here’s the catch: These people are on the verge of suicide. If you say the wrong things to them while talking, they will kill themselves right there on the spot.

It’s a simple game with crude graphics and a completely psychological game-play, but it’s undeniably engaging, and somehow… reassuring? We have a tendency to blame technology for our feelings of isolation, so while it’s initially unsettling to play a “game” about suicide, especially a video game, the empathy and humanity that the Inner Vision forces you to engage with are disarmingly heartfelt.

Sunil is quick to point out that his game isn’t really supposed to be a teaching tool, but a mode of self-expression and communication with players/audience.

Inner Vision wasn’t supposed to become popular. I created it for myself to express some dying thoughts I’ve had for the past several months. I had a message I was trying to portray with the game, but didn’t think anybody would understand it due to the poor script I had written. Well, I guess I was wrong. Although I personally think the script is weak, a lot of people thought it was quite good, and they connected with the characters.

As self-critical as Rao is, I think the simplicity of the dialogue and graphics actually keeps the gaming experience starkly penetrant. The only refined adornment the game has is a dreamy string score.

You can play here.

Posted by Amber Frost
08:14 am