We are currently in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic which is killing hundreds of thousands and devastating the global economy. Countries are deploying various methods to reduce transmission, but the primary method is to impose a lockdown on citizens.
I knew I wanted to create a video game for my capstone because throughout my time at Nuvu, coding projects, and especially Unity game development projects have been my favorite. When the pandemic began to hit Boston, I knew that I should create something covering the most significant news event of my life. With this context, my initial idea was to create a pandemic simulation game similar to Plague Inc. I was attracted to this area because I am interested in learning about disease spread through creating my own model. I’m particularly interested in the underlying mathematics that predict the growth and spread of a disease. I moved away from this area because I was doubtful that I could create something novel; there are elite groups of scientists who study infectious disease and create precise mathematical models, and there are many games that are about either controlling or facilitating macro-level disease spread. I decided to create a game inspired by my personal experience of the pandemic.
I DIDN”T MAKE IT ABOUT MY OWN EXPERIENCE BECAUSE I THOUGHT THAT IT WOULD BE CONCEITED TO ASSERT THAT MY EXPERIENCE IS SO PROFOUND THAT OTHER PEOPLE WOULD FIND IT INTERESTING OR EVOCATIVE. THIS WAS PROBABLY A SENTIMENT THAT I SHOULD HAVE OVERCOME, AND IF I COULD DO IT AGAIN I WOULD HAVE MADE A SEMI-AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL GAME.
I have been in a fairly strict self-quarantine with my family since March 16. Initially, I expected to be deeply affected by the social isolation; I anticipated a progressively more lonely and dismal life stuck at home. Surprisingly, things actually felt normal in the beginning. I missed my friends and going out into the world -- but much less than I thought I would. I have been going through my journal entries from that period, and I am surprised by how little I wrote about the effects of the pandemic and the isolation.
As time progressed though, I realized that I was insidiously slipping lower and lower into sadness and stress without even noticing it. I wasn’t overtly lonely or despairing, but the social isolation and mundanity of my new normal was having a deleterious effect on my mental health.
I was inspired to capture this interesting experience in a video game which illustrates the insidious effects of the oppressive mundanity and loneliness that many people are experiencing right now.
I started looking at other video games for inspiration. This game is called “A Dark Room.” I was inspired by the simple interface that lacked artistic illustrations which I don’t like making. “Spent” is a game in which you play as someone navigating the various challenges of poverty in the US. I was inspired by the
“My idea is to create a game/digital art piece in which an independent-living senior citizen navigates the mundane and not-mundane challenges of the pandemic. My character is an older person because they are being affected especially negatively in the current pandemic, not only because they are more at risk from the disease, but because they are already a somewhat disenfranchised and isolated group, so these problems are exacerbated. “
tHIS SHOULD GO SOMEWHERE.
Over the last number of decades, the amount of furniture in landfills has increased dramatically along with the demand for fast furniture. While inexpensive and quick to produce, these cardboard and plywood furniture pieces often contain toxic chemicals and only last a short time before being thrown away and replaced. Growing furniture from mushrooms benefits the environment by absorbing carbon-dioxide during production, and reduces the need for furniture disposal once the product reaches end-of-life.
Mycelium is the main body of fungus, that when grown together with crop waste forms a water resistant, flame retardant, and fully biodegradable Styrofoam-like solid. Mycelium furniture is grown from this composite into simple modular shapes. Once grown, the pieces are attached using bamboo components. The modules can be disconnected and rearranged to form stools, benches, and chairs, adapting to fit environmentally-conscious furniture into different types of indoor spaces.