Adventures in Game Design by Toni Pizza





I’ve been thinking about therapy/counseling a lot lately. Partially because I feel like I’ve got no one to talk to— and I miss having that hour or two a week where someone legitimately listened to me… pushed me to listen to me.  And partially because it’s near my birthday and I absolutely hate my birthday. Schmolly (AKA Molly my “shrink” back in Colorado) was basically the only person around when I was having what felt like a meltdown of epic proportions.

Now I’m in a place where I remember where I was last year and how I was doing some really unhealthy things. It feels like there’s no outlet to remember or reflect on that time, to be happy that it’s over, to remark at what I’ve managed to accomplish since then, and recognize that some of the feelings I was having back then creep up on me every now and again. Where’s the space to do that?

The photos:
1: This is the first diagram Molly introduced me to when she explained DBT (type of therapy).  I spent a lot of time contemplating this chart. I still spend time with this chart. I fluctuate been being far too rational and far too emotional, and maybe teeter around the middle aka balanced point once or twice every year.

2. Drugz. When I first started counseling I didn’t want to go because I was afraid “they’d” throw pills at me.  I am, after all of the fighting (with myself and various psychiatrists) taking some anti-depressants, but I feel more OK about it because I feel like at some point it became my decision.  The combo pictured WAS NOT my decision, it was “the evil Jeanine’s” choice that I took for months until I finally realized that I didn’t have to do what she recommended because even though I often felt quite disconnected from myself, I actually did know myself better than she did.

Game Thoughts 1:

I think this diagram lends itself to another abstract-y game. I’ve been playing the iOS game “Hundreds” a lot (it’s a game of the day for my students), and I think something about that mechanic feels right. In Hundreds you tap circles on the screen until they reach 100. As the levels progress there are obstacles that take points away or immediately end the game. What I like about the game (aside from its aesthetic simplicity) is that everything is constantly moving, changing, and you have micro-successes and micro-failures throughout.  I think the mechanics easily would translate into a balancing game like the diagram, and it would be cool if the music/sound was responsive to the state. Ex: The scale is tipped more toward the rational side there’s a specific type of sound and when the scale is leaning emotional there’s another specific sound.


Game Thoughts 2:

Getting away from all the dark and dreary, it might be fun to (and this game likely exists in some capacity elsewhere— I haven’t particularly looked into it) make a shooter type game where a psychiatrist is launching pills at you as the patient and you have to choose to dodge them or collect them.  This comic comes to mind:


Could be cute and pixely.


Toni Pizza is a Game Design MFA Candidate at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts,  and is noted for being ‘fundamentally unembarrassable.’  She makes games and thinks you should too. Twitter: @tpizza