Raising Awareness Within Games

Sometimes a minor theme in a game can be used wonderfully to raise a small amount of awareness. These moments can be hard to watch and participate in if they are something close to your heart and sometimes they can even be something that brings peace. Life is Strange True Colors was the last game that gave me one of these moments, and in this case it allowed me a small amount of peace.

Life is Strange True Colors follows Alex Chen as she travels to Haven Springs to reunite with her brother Gabe. Alex has the ability to take on and experience the emotions of others. She uses this ability to solve the mystery of a tragedy that occurs in the town. True to all Life is Strange games, this is a choice based game and these affect the outcome.

One NPC named Eleanor owns the flower shop in Haven Springs. During Chapter 2 you have the ability to go into the flower shop and speak to Eleanor and use your power to help her. Eleanor is struggling as she has forgotten what she was doing and so I helped her. Through doing this you uncover the reason behind her memory loss is her recent Alzheimer’s diagnosis and she doesn’t want Riley, who also works in the flower shop, to know.

Whilst this is a small moment, the game mentions a disease that affects around 1 in 14 people over the age of 65 and has no known cause or cure which goes someway to raise awareness in a gaming audience. This inclusion might lead someone to have some understanding of caring responsibilities as well, from the side of the vulnerable adult wanting to avoid telling those closest to her and the carer if certain choices play out. Some of this is not said outright but is noticeable, like the checklists that appear of what to do and the notes with username and passwords.

A screenshot from Life is Strange True Colours showing small wooden effect houses. A wooden bridge appears over a stream.  In the background there are snowcapped mountains. Several trees appear throughout.

In Chapter 2, after using your power and helping Eleanor remember what she was doing, which was putting an order together, you get a major choice. The choice to either let her know about a death or not. This is one that does affect outcomes right up to the end of Chapter 5.

For me, I found helping Eleanor through this side activity gave some peace so I chose to give her some too by not telling her. In the past, in real life, I have explained and told people with dementia diagnoses the things they had forgotten and were distressed about. I didn’t want to do this again. You never really know what is the right choice and I thought this would be best. For Alex, for Eleanor and for me. It let me have some peace from my memories and it let Eleanor not have to come to the realisation of what happened and what she forgot.

A yellow patterned frame shows a fundraising poster with details for ride for the cure. This event is due to happen on July 18 with a "together we can end Alzheimer's!" tag line at the bottom. A small gnome stands in front of the frame and a small pot with yellow flowers appears to the side.

In my game, Riley found out about Eleanor’s diagnosis and she stayed in Haven Springs. This may not be the best outcome for either character as caring for someone is a huge undertaking and with a variable condition such as this it adds complications into the mix. However, this is also something that you can gain some support with.

Eleanor allowed me to accept my memories, accept that I didn’t always make the right choice for me or the person affected with dementia and accept that I tried to help and sometimes you can help and sometimes that causes some hurt depending on what was forgotten. They will remain in my heart, my memories and are truly missed.

So thank you Life is Strange for putting something real and something meaningful in a small activity and bringing that to a wider audience. A little understanding and awareness can make a difference.

3 thoughts on “Raising Awareness Within Games

  1. It sounds like a really cathartic experience and incredible it came through this medium. So easy to overlook these positive influences games have, wonderful to read.

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  2. Great anecdote, I think here the agency of choice from the player in whether to tell the character or not is possibly a big part of it. It is one way games can tackle these situations differently than any other medium, as it allows us to be part of the message too!

    Like

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