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Independent Games Summit: Writing Personal Experiences Without Sacrificing Your Health

Emma Kidwell  (Writer, Independent)

Location: Room 2005, West Hall

Date: Tuesday, March 22

Time: 1:20 pm - 1:50 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass, Independent Games Summit Pass, All Access Online Only Pass - Get your pass now!

Topic: Independent Games

Format: Session

Viewing Experience: In-Person/Virtual

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: No

Narrative designer and writer Emma Kidwell shares how developers can integrate heavy experiences from their personal lives into games (through dialogue, prose, or dispersed in quests) without sacrificing their health or well-being. In this lecture, Kidwell will analyze titles that contain heavier content while also giving a short post-mortem of "I Wish I Were A Robot", an intimate game about someone living with depression and intrusive thoughts. Kidwell gives best practices for developers when moving forward with incorporating darker themes into their work, and explains why it's important for content that may need warnings to still be shared with others.


There's a reason developers put pieces of themselves into their work, so it's not unreasonable to assume they wouldn't put heavier, darker experiences into their dialogue or side quests as well. Developers will learn best practices on how to do this safely and compassionately without sacrificing their mental health or well-being in an industry still struggling to keep their developers healthy due to crunch and burnout.

Intended Audience

Writers, narrative designers, story tellers or those who just enjoy these types of personal games would benefit from this talk.