Lazuli

A prosocial initiative to address loneliness through a free, narrative-based game and a supportive community hub website.

About

Lazuli is a Venture Project and prosocial initiative with the aim of promoting empathy towards the issue of loneliness amongst young adults.

It encompassed the development of a proof-of-concept for a free PC game, and a supportive community website for them to acknowledge, discuss, and address loneliness. 

*Because of Covid-19, this project was fully developed remotely.


My Roles

Interaction Designer Lead, UI/UX Designer, Level Concept Designer and Social Media Manager

  • Designing and creating the website and social media.
  • UX design for the game.
  • Planning online and physical user tests for both website and the game.
  • Organizing and conducting design sprints.


Software Used

Challenges

Overall in Canada, the percentage of loneliness rose dramatically from 10% to 54% between June 2019 to April 2020.

  • 79% of people aged 18 to 22 were lonely in 2019.

  • 27%% of people aged 18 to 23 feel more lonely due to COVID-19.


Most people will experience loneliness at some point in their lives, but when loneliness becomes chronic, it can have adverse impacts on a person’s physical and mental health. However, stigma and embarrassment often prevent young adults from talking about their loneliness and seeking help.

Our team's feelings of isolation and loneliness made us more desperate to develop this game to help young adults get the help they need to cope with loneliness.

Sources: Cigna (2020); Social Pro (2020)

Solution

Project Lazuli is a prosocial initiative to address loneliness in young adults. It is a transmedia solution consisting of the following:

  1. A supportive community hub website with health resources and links to mental health organizations.

  2. A free, narrative-based single player co-op PC game about various emotional obstacles involved in loneliness.

User Journey for the Website & the Game

This user journey diagram illustrates the process of a user who may go from the first encounter with Project Lazuli, through word of mouth or via social media or web search, to playing our game, and potentially becoming an active member of the community hub website.

1: Community Hub Website

The website is a web community hub that bridges players to approachable health resources and support groups. It focuses on bringing awareness about loneliness and providing support, on top of the latest game content.

Website Key Features

A Community with New Voices
A place for players of all kinds to discuss different interpretations of the game and to take part in conversations about loneliness that they may not have been interested in being a part of in the past.

A Positive Environment
A supportive, non-toxic environment where players feel comfortable sharing their personal stories without judgement.

Approachable Information & Resources
Unintimidating and easy-to-find information and resources, including self-assessment tools and guidelines to better cope with loneliness.

A Gateway to Prosocial Behaviour
Encourages players to engage in prosocial initiatives in the larger community.

2: Lazuli, a narrative game

Lazuli is a narrative-based single-player co-op game where you play as two polar opposite characters who journey together through different environments and obstacles that represent various emotions associated with loneliness.

Game Key Features

A World of Metaphors
Travel through an intriguing world filled with rich visual and narrative metaphors depicting the different emotions associated with loneliness.

Journey Alone, Together.
Explore the charming personalities and abilities of Light Self and Dark Self, two playable characters who symbolize the extremes of positive and negative qualities of the self, as they learn to accept and support each other.

An Uplifting Experience.
Experience a story about discovering new and positive ways of dealing with the difficult experiences, thoughts, and challenges brought on by loneliness.

The Dichotomy of Loneliness

The game is based on the story of an unnamed protagonist, who was so overcome by loneliness, that they have been torn apart into two different characters, with drastically different personalities and abilities: one a bright light, the other a dark soul. Only by joining forces can they overcome all environmental obstacles to emerge as a cohesive and emotionally balanced self.

This fracture was inspired by a common self-defense mechanism in psychology: Splitting, which occurs when a person's thinking fails to bring together both positive and negative qualities of the self into a cohesive, realistic whole. The individual tends to think in extremes, with no middle ground.

Games for Change 2020

We took the project to the Games for Changes Festival 2020, their first virtual festival. We were able to present and showcase our project alongside many other game creators. We were able to increase awareness of our project, and the exposure and feedback received helped us validate Project Lazuli's proof-of-concept.

Working Like an Indie Game Studio

We had a taste of the pressures most indie game studios have. Lazuli was like a potential business venture where we felt a strong sense of ownership and accountability. There were pressures and deadlines for promoting and marketing our game before it was fully developed on social media and events.

Personal Growth

In the beginning, we didn’t expect the website to be as important as it is. But this gave me the opportunity to work on different aspects of the project, such as designing and creating the website and social media, planning online and physical user tests for both website and the game, and organizing design sprints. Having well-planned design sessions allowed us to achieve a lot together. In just two days worth of design sprints, we were able to plan the designs for all the remaining levels.



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