SPROUT: A SHORT CYCLE OF CONNECTION





Sprout
2021- Ongoing

Indivual Project
Tools: Unity | Blender | C#
Timeframe: Currently 9 weeks 


‘Sprout’ is a short game for young adults to use as a safe haven and an opportunity for support and community building. Separated in two stages, one where players individually nurture a plant, and the second stage where players can build connections and seek for support in moments of need.

Sprout is a short game intended to be a safe space for people experiencing stress or anxiety. The game consists of nurturing a plant while taking time for yourself.

Once your plant has reached certain point of growth, the option to communicate with other players opens up. Both asynchronous and direct communication are made possible in different parts of the game.

The game consists of two stages: The first one focusing on an individual journey of nurturing a plant. In here the player will start at a garden an plant a seed.

The player can take several actions to nurture the plant, such as making it rain, shaking the trees for leaves and removing grass and weeds from the garden.


This part is intented to serve as a relaxation room for the player. Doing repetitive game mechanics, players can relax and find a space for calmness. There is no timer or rush and players can experience this process at their own pace.


During the second stage, the game allows players to have contact with the supportive community of players in the game
Asynchronous messages are shared among the players to share positive or supportive messages with each other. 

If the players wants, at the end of the nurturing cycle, there is the possibility of having a 5 minute conversation with another player. Building community through supporting each other, but without attachment.

Process:
‘Sprout: A short cycle of connection’ is still under development so the process is constantly being updated due to the iterative process of game design.

The game currently has a 9 week timeframe of design & development.

During the current process, I have conducted 5 online in-depth interviews with game designers and 10 in-depth interviews and playtesting sessions with players.

The interviewees were separated in two groups:

1) Game Designers or Creators
2) Users or Players.

For the first group, it was important interview people currently working in the game design world, as well as psychologist and other mental health professionals in order to understand anxiety and how digital methods, specifically games, could help young adults.

The second group consisted of young adults within the age range of 15-30 years old. A wide variety of people were interviewed, consisting of both “gamers” and people who don’t consider themselves as such. 
From this research process I managed to extract five key insights that led me into the ideation, co-creation, and playtesting processes mentioned before. This five key insights where the following:

1)
Gamers create, solve, build and stay active, because they see a direct impact of their actions in the game world.

2)
Online identities allow to explore personality traits and expose vulnerabilities. But they can cause inconsistencies in personality.

3)
People who are creating for each other and playing with each others creation, generate collective growth and development

4)
Option overload, competitiveness and lack of time can cause players to feel stress while playing or cause them to stop playing at all.

5)
Regulated communities have diversity of players and more positive behaviors, becoming support networks and spaces for genuine connection.


Designing and playtesting both the mechanics of nurtuting the plant, and the conversation mecahnics followed after this, going through multiple cycles of iteration and rapid prototyping until the current stage of development and design.