Okay, you guys know me well enough to know that a lot of my posts are impulsive and full of emotion. This… is kind of like that… but at the same time, not really. You see, I’ve thought about this a lot. I just never thought I would put it out into the world.
So, for those who are just stumbling on this post randomly- hi! My name is Eleanor and I have DID. I also like games. But I have a huge problem combining the two because gaming companies and writers often get it wrong.
DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) is a mental disorder that… is a very touchy subject. There has been a huge amount of incorrect information, and it’s been glamorised massively by media. So, I came up with a way of portraying DID without making it seem okay. DID may seem okay on the surface, even a little cool, but ultimately it’s not. It’s a lot of not knowing who you are, where you are, anything about yourself. It tends to be a lot of flashbacks and losing time and it’s scary sometimes because it’s almost like you have no control over your own life. Personally, I think video games would do the best job at portraying this. I’ve done a post about whether or not video games should tackle the topic of mental health. You can read it here if you want to, and I would recommend just giving it a skim over before reading this post if you haven’t already.
The conclusion of that post was that mental illness should only be portrayed in video games (or even movies, TV shows and books) if it shows the whole thing, the whole experience. I stand by this. So, with that in mind, here is what I think a DID video game could possibly look like:
So, it opens with an informative screen. I think that this part is very important. Make the audience know that DID is a very real condition that real-life people suffer with due to repeated childhood trauma. Bonus points if there are statistics. There’s not a lot of research on DID in general, but it would be a great idea to look into it, get in contact with people who live with the condition etc. Make your audience know. Heck, if you did the last part, maybe even have a sit-down interview with someone with the condition and animate it in the style of your game. I imagine that would be interesting to see, and a pretty cool way of introducing your audience to the animation style.
For the tutorial, have the audience go through the main character’s childhood. Why? Because they should understand from the beginning that the condition is from repeated childhood trauma. My advice would be to keep it in the first person for as long as possible. I’m thinking Fallout 3 when the dad is encouraging the child to walk. That type of basic tutorial. And then, as the trauma starts to happen, obviously alters develop. However, to kind of keep the suspense, keep it in the first person. Don’t have any options to change alters or even a way to make it obvious of the change. A cool thing that happened with my system that I’ve heard happen with a lot is one of my alters is colour blind, so the world would obviously look different to that alter.
Before we move on, I want to discuss things that you should not do under any circumstances. No ‘evil’ alter, because DID is enough of a horror movie troupe. We get so much crap because of movies like Split. We don’t need any more of that. So it goes without saying, a horror game is off the table. Sci-fi probably isn’t the best idea either. Do not use the term ‘multiple personality disorder’ because that is not what it is called. Don’t assume that your audience is too stupid to not google what DID is (this obviously won’t be much of an issue if you’ve taken into account the intro part of this post).
So, what would work? Maybe an RPG. Going on a quest to do something heroic. Playing as different characters is usually a pretty fun part of a game, so switch alters when needed. Fighting needs to be done? Bring out the protector. Hard puzzle? Maybe there’s someone in there who can solve it. This is how I deal with life in general, so I think switching when needed would be quite a good thing. I would recommend not giving the player the chance to switch whenever they want to whoever they want, just because that isn’t how DID works. It needs to be more out of necessity, there should be a need for an alter to come out. If you want a little humour, however, bring a little out at random times. When the little comes out, change the goal to something a child would want to do, but also something that would help the mission.
That is really all I’ve come up with. I’m sure I’ll have the odd idea or two but I’ll update you when they come! Do you have any ideas? Leave them in the comments, I’d love to hear them!