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Geek Culture / Turning your social life into a sim game?

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Megaton Cat
13
Years of Service
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Joined: 24th Aug 2003
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posted: 12th Nov 2016 17:00 Edited at: 12th Nov 2016 17:01
Hi guys

I used to hang around the TGC forms for years back in the day and got to work on some great DarkBasic projects with some awesome people. My love of game design eventually turned into designing web & mobile apps, so I want to share a side-project I've been working on for a while and to get your thoughts.

I used to nerd out over sim games. SimCity, SimHospital, Roller Coaster Tycoon, Harvest Moon etc the list went on.

I grew up as an awkward gamer so it took me a while to finally get out there socially and improve social skills and relationships. I wanted to be proactive in my approach so I would set reminders in my calendar to hang out with people and kept spreadsheets of new interesting people I would meet along the way.

The goal was to become more comfortable in social situations and improve my own personal network, but it still felt clunky.

Recently, I started building an app I've wanted to make for years: A tool for visually building your relationships, along with challenges for expanding your comfort zone and getting yourself out of your head.

My goal is to make staying in touch with people more like a fun sim-style game with automated reminders, progress stats and unlockable achievements.

You can check out the project at the link below and I also wrote a more in-depth introduction on Medium if anyone is interested. I'd love to hear your thoughts and feature suggestions so I could make this better. I'm releasing a beta soon so there's an email list if you'd like to help test this out.

UseSphere.com
Seppuku Arts
Moderator
12
Years of Service
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Joined: 18th Aug 2004
Location: Cambridgeshire, England
Posted: 12th Nov 2016 19:31
Well that's a blast from the past. I am doing the ol' web app development stuff these days instead of game dev, but nothing as cool looking at that, mainly because I am still learning and fitting it around work, life and play.

Looking at this, looks like it might be useful for people suffering from social anxiety, I don't know if that is a good angle for it?

I might give it a go and see what verdict I can come to.
Ortu
9
Years of Service
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Joined: 21st Nov 2007
Location: Austin, TX
Posted: 12th Nov 2016 22:03
Looks interesting man. Having had a slow social start myself when I was younger, I could see it having been a useful tool.

Looks very polished and well put together.


A single player RPG featuring a branching, player driven storyline of meaningful choices and multiple endings alongside challenging active combat and intelligent AI.
Megaton Cat
13
Years of Service
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Joined: 24th Aug 2003
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posted: 13th Nov 2016 23:19
Hey Seppuku, long time no see lol

Yeah, I am struggling with the correct angle and message for the app. The mental well-being space is growing, with lots of apps to help you with mood, mental health, meditation, therapy etc. Social anxiety is clearly a big issue however I find a lot of the other tools pretty patronizing to the user. Many people won't admit they are "suffering" from anxiety so they won't accept help. That's why I wanted to create something more fun and light-hearted like this, that feels less like a self-help thing and more like an RPG.

@Ortu, Thank you!
Seppuku Arts
Moderator
12
Years of Service
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Joined: 18th Aug 2004
Location: Cambridgeshire, England
Posted: 14th Nov 2016 01:00
Oh I agree, and yes, having it feel less like a "self help" thing may help those who haven't gotten to that point of admitting it or recognising it (or may never get to that point). Nobody goes to a self-help app unless they are seeking self-help and kinda detracts from what might be what makes the app fun and you are right with other tools being patronising. Some I came across too went the whole "spiritual" route and I am far from spiritual.

Interestingly, one of the unexpected side effects of Pokemon Go was that for a number of people with social issues, it helped them, which for me outweighed the naysayers who were like "oh this is a terrible fad" or "how lame/sad", however, I didn't get into it myself, but our local animal shelter managed to raise lots of money just doing Pokemon Go nights. Come to think of it, on that note, I don't know if there could be some angle for events? But just a thought. But of course the Pokemon Go things is something that's mostly lasted with it being a fad and now less popular with people moving onto other things, though it still has a player base.

And I guess you're looking at using this app to define a social space for those more introverted and those who tend to struggle more socially. I can see how it can be a struggle to get the angle, you want it to be something that can help people with social issues, at the same time, keep the element of fun and not make it feel like it's a self-help thing. I don't know. But I like that you're taking a Sims-like angle to it at least.

However, I suspect you won't run into The Sims scenario where you lead somebody into an empty swimming pool, remove the ladder and watch them starve to death. One reason I guess I shouldn't be allowed to play, is that I am one of those people. I did it a long time ago with Zoo Tycoon I think? Made a lion pit and lured visitors to the park into it and then fenced them in. That was my favourite one.
Ortu
9
Years of Service
Recently Online
Joined: 21st Nov 2007
Location: Austin, TX
Posted: 14th Nov 2016 01:03
People respond more to the positive than the negative when it comes to looking at themselves.

Instead of phrasing it overcoming social anxiety (fixing a negative) you can phrase it as building social confidence (growing a positive)


A single player RPG featuring a branching, player driven storyline of meaningful choices and multiple endings alongside challenging active combat and intelligent AI.

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