The upcoming indie game Choice: Texas is a very serious game. This project is an interactive fiction game discussing accessing to legal abortions in Texas. Like the successful serious game DepressionQuest, Choice: Texas will use a browser-based IF gameplay medium to engage the player in a storyline with a message.
Choice: Texas, developed and designed by Carly Kocurek and Allyson Whipple, uses careful research into Texas legal regulations and demographics to create fictional characters. These characters encounter realistic situations, financial and geographic limitations, as well as personal choices and goals. By asking players to take on the role of one of these women, the developer invite players to consider the situation Texas woman might encounter, and asks the players for empathy and understanding.
“This game is about an important issue effecting women in Texas, and is intended as a means of furthering discussion and empathy,“ says Carly Kocurek. (Carly will be on a panel with me, and other amazing women in game development, at Geek Girl Con, discussing women’s experiences in the games industry!) “We really think games can facilitate further conversation about and understanding of these kinds of issues.”
I’ve written many times about the power of serious games to create understanding, not to mention the potential of text-based games. Depression Quest successfully used an interactive fiction format to bring players into the role of a person suffering from depression. Another serious game, McVideogame, threw the player into an unsympathetic role, and used this to build understanding and awareness of the interconnected relationships in the fast food industry. I’m really looking forward to seeing how Choice: Texas handles such a complex topic.
Choice: Texas will launch an IndieGoGo campaign on August 19, 2013, and lasting through September 15th. The game will be developed in Twine and released for free play on the game’s website, so funds raised will support the development and publicity for the game. From the IndieGoGo description:
“We are billing Choice: Texas as “a very serious game,” and we mean that. While the game is intended to be engaging, the issues it addresses are very serious. Women’s access to reproductive healthcare in Texas is significantly limited, a state of affairs that is especially true for women who are working class or poor, or who live in rural areas. One of the great strengths of games is that they can invite players to explore other people’s experiences; Choice: Texas is such a game, and asks players to seriously consider the plight of Texas women.”
More development news, including character art, can be found at choicetexas.tumblr.com.