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Project Lazuli

A Prosocial initiative to address loneliness.

Project Type

Art Direction, Visual Design

Game Design

Keywords

Non profit, Prosocial, Mental Health, Community Building, Game Design, Interactive Design, Storytelling, Animation, Visual Design, Visual Development Art, Video Editing, Remote Collaboration.

Role

Creative Lead, Concept Artist, Game Designer, Story & Narrative Writer

Overview

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.

 

This project was developed at the Centre for Digital Media in Vancouver. It was

a pleasure to work together with a group of colleagues and friends from the Master of Digital Media Program, under the name of IJKL Studio. Our team consisted of myself (Irene), Jaclynn Wong, Kun Huang, and Lam Kwan (IJKL). 

 

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

Game Trailer

Challenge: The Loneliness Problem

  • 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

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

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.

While mental health issues are increasingly being discussed openly in schools and in society, loneliness remains highly stigmatized: young adults who are lonely may feel too embarrassed or unqualified to seek professional help.

Proposed Solution

Free narrative

PC game

Community

hub website

Project Lazuli is a transmedia solution consisting of a community hub website and a free PC game, that aims to open a wider conversation amongst young adults, to make it easier to acknowledge, discuss, and address loneliness.

Our Game, Lazuli

Lazuli is a narrative-based single player co-op game, where you play as two polar opposite characters who journey through a beautiful and evolving world that depicts the complex emotions associated with loneliness.

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 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.

 

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.

Alone, Together

Play as two intriguing, polar opposite 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.

Early Concept Art

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Level Design and Concept Art

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Games for Change 2020: Positive Reception and Support

We took the project to the Games for Change Festival 2020 (G4C2020). This year was the first time it was held virtually - and we showcased our work in the expo alongside many other creators of serious games.

It was intimidating to present our work in front of complete strangers, especially because our game itself was nowhere near completion.

Our main takeaway was receiving the feedback and validation we needed to validate Project Lazuli's proof-of-concept.

A Personal Journey

Pitching our project and treating it like a potential business venture was really meaningful. We felt a strong sense of ownership and accountability, spending a lot of time maintaining our website, blog, and Instagram account. 

We got a taste of the real world pressures too, because like most indie game studios, we had to market our game before we had fully designed or developed it. As a small team of four, it was hard to tackle such a big scoped project, but I’m very grateful for all we went through and accomplished together.

Any questions? Feel free to drop me a line : )

© 2011-2020, Irene Sasaki