Inner Vision – a dialogue scenario with Death

Scene from Sunil Rao's Inner VisionInner-Vision-SS-3-300x180Scenarios are about story, not production.

I came across Inner Vision in a link from Cathy Moore’s site. It’s not elearning, it’s characterised by its developer, Sunil Rao as a game. He created it as a game-building exercise, to see if a theme as difficult and non-fantasy as suicide prevention could be treated seriously in a game format.

You might look at these screen shots and think this is amateurish, doesn’t look like professional elearning etc.  Sure, it’s anything but slick.  But try it.  Just go and try it now, even if you don’t read the rest of this post.

“Suicide, it’s a peculiar thing. With a little tinkering of rope, or the ingestion of some pills, a person’s own life is gone. Just like that. A person’s identity, memories, personality, gone forever. Messed up, isn’t it? Well to some it is and to others it isn’t. I, personally, don’t mind it”
Did you try it?

The graphics may be simple but they’re effective, especially Yama, the suicide figure, arms akimbo, fag in mouth. And his dialogue is just as challenging as his posture:  ‘This’ll be entertaining. I can’t wait to see how you’ll mess up’

The dialogue throughout is rough, sweary and uncompromising. The interface is simple – you just click the screen to move on, no ‘next’ button.  With the increasingly excitable cello score, it drives you on to conduct conversations with characters who are clearly based on real knowledge of people in despair. And it does it just by dialogue, nothing else.

It’s not perfect – after I’d negotiated it to the end and managed to ‘save’ the three characters and infuriate Yama, I wanted to see what happened if I got it wrong, but found it very difficult to get it wrong. Saying too many wrong things gives a juddering screen and ‘game over’ but you never seem to run out of tries. So I didn’t get to see if Yama would gloat over the death of one of the unfortunates.

 I have to be clear here that I’m not saying this is a learning scenario – there’s nothing at the end to pull together the principles and explain why the right actions were right. In other words, no debrief. But that could be conducted in a discussion if you wanted it.

The piece isn’t intended as elearning – I’m just saying elearning designers could learn a lot from the strength and uncompromising directness of the dialogue.  If it even makes us take a little bit more risk, push it a little further into drama, and a little further away from the Voice of the Omniscient Tedious Teacher then it’s a great example.

There’s a good discussion and interview with the author here, including some of the praise and criticism the piece has received. Sunil Rao’s site includes other games.

2 thoughts on “Inner Vision – a dialogue scenario with Death

  1. THAT WAS A VERY INTERESTING EXERCISE. aFTER i FAILED WITH ONE CHARACTER i REALISED WHAT i HAD DONE AND KNEW HOW TO SAVE THEM NEXT TIME. tHAT’S A BRILLIANT WAY TO DEMONSTRATE LISTENING.

    • Hi Nicola. I’m interested that you managed to ‘fail’ – I couldn’t seem to get there, it seemed I had infinite tries to get it right and the character never died. Good for him, bad for me.

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