Do I Date? is a visual novel to raise awareness for mental disorders, made in Ren’Py, which uses the coding language Python. The entire project is 100% original, including art, music, story, code, and characters. The player is introduced to five women, each of whom has a different set of mental disorders. While playing through the game, the player learns the ins and outs of interacting with someone with these disorders. This game is an attempt to break down the biases surrounding mental disorders. The backstories to the characters are all based on true events.
I am inspired by this idea because I have each of the disorders listed in the game. I personally have been repeatedly discriminated against in workplaces, school, and social environments due to these disorders. These disorders are not my fault - either things I was born with or brought on due to trauma. I feel it is unfair that the world we live in is one where people are punished for things that are beyond their control. Specifically, I want my niece and nephews to grow up and live in a world where they will not be punished for things that are beyond their control. The rising generations of Gen Z and Millennials are the ones who will be in charge of making laws down the road. Both of these generations were raised on video games, which makes a video game the perfect medium for change. Video games are fun and interactive ways to spread knowledge.
Process and Tools
My personal art style is what I call blown-up pixel art. Pixel art generally refers to making a larger image through much smaller pixels, so that when you look at it from afar, you are able to see the complete image. I prefer to use the Pencil tool in Photoshop over the Paintbrush tool, as I enjoy the cleaner edge the Pencil gives. Thus, the art style for Do I Date? is 100% blown-up pixel art. This style of art is my comfort zone and also one of my biggest strengths. All art is made in Adobe Photoshop. As I finished the entirety of what I wanted to present before most people had even begun to think about their theses, I faced no challenges from COVID-19.
This game has already been through several major iterations based on player feedback. At the current time, only two of the five characters have a fully playable “date” with the player. Looking forward, I plan to have separate stories for each of the five characters, each with three different endings. I eventually want to implement the option for the player to be female as well. The choices presented to the player are all relevant to the character’s disorder, even if it is not immediately clear.