Player Stories

Player Stories are brief narratives that explain the vision of how the player interacts with the game.

 How player stories helped me:

  • A tool to build consensus around the intended player experience
    • Helpful for clients especially if they don’t have experience with game development or a lot of familiarity with games
    • Helpful for team members or other collaborators- getting everyone on the team to understand the intended player experience enables them to contribute creatively to the game design
  • thought experiment to test the waters on high level game elements such as theming, flow, or process from the player’s perspective
  • A thought experiment to move beyond a narrative or thematic high level concept to gameplay
    • Check your assumptions
    • making sure you know what the player is actually going to do in the game

Bob is a 7 year old boy, and is part of the Lending Hearts family. He comes back home after school, and sits in his room alone.

He downloads the Lending Hearts app from the Google Play store and opens the app. The first thing he sees is the Lending Hearts, the Stellar6 and ETC logos. He is then welcomed by a sign up/log in page. He signs up with his email, which is on our client’s whitelist. After creating his username and password, he sees the introduction screen that welcomes him to the Lending Hearts Universe, and that his planet is one of many that orbit around the LH star. He sees instructions that he can visit any others’ planet and also the LH Star. He sees all the colourful and interesting planets, and is shown his blank planet. He is given an option to customize his planet, and inspired by others’ creativity, he starts customizing his planet.

When he goes to the customization scene, he sees a short tutorial on what he can do with his planet, and once he has gone through the entire tutorial, he sees a Gift icon pop up. When he clicks on it, he receives a gift of (randomized) items to start decorating his planet. There are different categories of items, which are according to different themes. He looks for more items by clicking on the Gift icon again, and sees the progress bar towards the community goal. The progress bar is not yet full, and a message appears that he will have to gather resources to unlock more items – by playing games in the Constellations galaxy – and contributing to the LH home star by throwing his resources in the Wishing Volcano on the LH Star. He clicks on the button, and is taken to the LH star.

When he visits the LH Star, he is shown the various features that he can access – the gallery (where he can see all his and his friends’ drawings), the newsboard (where he can find out the latest LH news), the leaderboard (where he can see all the whole community’s scores in the games) and the Wishing Volcano (where he can make contributions to the home star and contribute to the community goal of unlocking gifts for everyone). He clicks on the Wishing Volcano to make a wish and throw in his resources. He then sees the progress for unlocking gifts for everyone, and it has not reached the end yet.

He goes back to the main view and taps on the Constellations galaxy to gather more resources. He starts playing the game, but needs help and clicks on the help icon in the corner. He sees a tutorial and continues playing the game. In the game, he has to tap a star to collect it for the drawing game, and he has 4 lives before the game ends and he proceeds to the drawing constellations part.

He reads the tutorial (which flashes because he is a first time player) and proceeds to play the game. However, he gets confused, so he clicks on the help button and reads the tutorial again. He then exits the tutorial and makes a constellation with the stars he has collected.

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Post-mortem of a Game That Tries To Teach You Stuff

(This week, I decided to go back in time a little and do a post-mortem of my first educational game)

“Games have the power of visualizing things, of creating open-ended environments for people to explore things, of engaging and motivating learners. What you have is a strong learning approach that should be added to the educator’s toolbox.”

Jan Plass

Co-Director, Games for Learning Institute

New York University

Educational gaming is something that has always appealed to me. Having studied in the rigid Indian system of education, I rarely ever witnessed “studying” and “playing” intersect in the classroom. Although our curriculum claimed that the focus of our education was on higher order skills – like the ability to think and solve complex problems, or interact critically through language and media – in the classroom, all we focused on was memorizing the key topics that would be tested in the examinations. The focus of learning was not concept-oriented, but result-oriented. As a result, all throughout my school life, I found the process of learning fundamental concepts neither engaging nor fun.

Therefore, when we received the Dice Canyon assignment, I decided I would push my limits and challenge myself to make an educational game. Since an educational game can be about literally anything under the sun, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to make. I was certain that it had to be some concept that I had personally struggled to understand. As I free-associated while fiddling with my dice, I saw the pips on them and thought of electrons. I decided to tackle a topic that I found utterly fascinating: quantum chemistry. A game based on this topic would be an interesting challenge to take up because there are no learning tools to visualize the complex quantum models of atoms, and that require interaction and decision making from the student.

However, as I started making the game, I realized the hard way that two weeks would not be sufficient time to make a game that would teach people high-level concepts which can’t be easily represented on paper. As I begun playtesting the game, I realized that there were several challenges that I had to overcome to make my game successful in teaching the core concepts in an engaging way. At the end of the process of making this game, I hoped to find pointers that would help me create an engaging way of teaching difficult concepts.

As I started testing my game, the first thing I observed was that most people were instantly intimidated by the words quantum chemistry. I realized that I was labeling my game in an alienating way. Introducing my game as “Quantum Chemistry Game” was also bad branding, because it wasn’t actually explaining what the game was about – understanding how to fill electrons in an atom to make different elements. So towards the end of my development process, around the 8th or 9th iteration, I renamed it “Valency Vacancy”. It conveyed what the game was about, quite literally: there are vacancies (in the atom) that you must fill according to the valencies you have (with each roll of the dice).

As I began testing, I was dismayed to find that playtesters for my initial iterations did not seem to be understanding the core concepts, nor having fun. I made learning curves (charting the moments when people learned each concept in the game) and fun curves (charting the moments when they were engaged or having fun) to understand how the content and interactions in the game could be improved. When I compared the learning curves and the fun curves, I noticed that they were almost opposing. In other words, when they were having fun, they weren’t learning, and vice-versa. In the fun curve, I observed that players had fun when the elements of randomness were introduced (like stealing other players’ electrons). But randomness did not align with my end goal of teaching the player the rules of electron arrangement in atomic shells. I then investigated the learning curve. Looking at it, I realized that the playtesters weren’t having fun because they were trying their best to understand the science – in other words, they were fully engaged with the game. They were actually understanding the rules, albeit not fully, but the game was achieving what it was scoped to. They were also able to apply the rules they learned to some extent. So while my game was doing well on the learning and engagement front, I still had to find a way to make the learning process more fun.

When listing the different metrics of success for fun in the game, I realized that I had overlooked the most important factor: the players themselves. I realized that I had to improve the interactions between players to encourage both learning and engagement. However, player-to- player communication is hard to ensure in a game where each player is learning. Most of the times, I noticed that my playtesters were completely immersed in their own boards, figuring out what it was that they were supposed to do next. There was barely any conversation between players, and their body language suggested isolation rather than community. To solve this problem, I took away their individual boards and put a common board where they played together, hoping that it would make them feel like they were playing together. Although this strategy helped, I felt the players were still not communicating as much as I would have liked them to – so I made it mandatory for them to think aloud. As they did this, they started correcting the mistakes in each others’ thought processes. To completely remove the feeling of competition and increase cooperation, I also removed the race-to-thefinish element of the game, where the winner was the first person to reach the end of the atomic shells. These measures paid off, and in the last iteration, players learned the most and reported having the most fun.

In conclusion, at the end of my iterations I realized that there were three key moments in the game where the player was learning and having fun. The first moment was when a potential player expressed interest in participating. The second moment was the “Eureka moment” when they understood the gameplay, and wanted to continue playing because they were deeply invested in this experience. The third moment was when a player attained a level of mastery and started teaching and collaborating with other players. Keeping these moments in mind, in the future I will try and expand my game to include more concepts, interactivity, and decision-making.

So that’s why they call it a THEME park!

Last week, I went to Disneyland for the second time in my life.

I was attending the Themed Entertainment Association Summit in Anaheim, California – smack dab in the middle of Disneyland. The last time I went to Disneyland was in January with the ETC on our annual West Coast Trip, and that day was a whirlwind of sights, sounds and smells (so.. much.. turkey leg.. *barfs*) This time around, I spent two days in Disneyland, with the aim of making meticulous notes on interest curves of the rides, analyzing the design choices made in terms of both architecture and games, how the theming tied into the entire experience etc etc.

Spoiler alert: I totally did not take any game design notes, because I was too busy playing the games and riding the rides and basically having fun. Yeesh, what an irresponsible person!

However, one thing that I definitely observed keenly through the lens of game design was the theming. I know, it is literally the first thing that anyone thinks of when they talk about Disney’s theme parks – we call it a “theme park” after all, there would be some amount of theming, right? But Disneyland takes it into a totally different level. Yes, the rides and attractions are themed really well, what’s the big deal? But what truly makes Disneyland stand out is how well everything other than the rides are themed, and how immersive that makes the entire Disneyland experience. I’ll cover one aspect this week:

The cast members

I was rather surprised to see that employees, who are called “cast members”, are always in costume, depending on which park they are in – the costuming is very distinct, so you can easily tell them apart. And on a related note, I never saw a cast member from one park in any other park!. This really puzzled me, because I had no idea where the offices, or loading zones, or even the street cleaners were, nor where these cast members were spontaneously appearing from.. Until I realized that the offices were in plain sight, in the upper floors of the buildings along Main Street! I had walked past those cartoony buildings throughout the whole day but never even thought that they would be actual offices. Not once did I get a peek at the behind-the-scenes. I thought I would not get to see the backstage at all, until we watched the parade in the evening. The actors were so in-character, and the music and colours made such a joyous atmosphere that even a fairly cynical person like me was enthusiastically partaking in the parade festivities. I almost forgot that I wasn’t really watching my favourite cartoon characters until the parade ended and we saw the last of the characters go through the doors – and then I caught a glimpse of all the other characters who’d been in the parade. Surprisingly, they were still in character! None of them was lounging around, nor had they gotten out of their costumes and suits (which would have to be uncomfortable in the warm Californian weather, no doubt). Despite the fact that I knew there was an illusion, I did not see even one opportunity to shatter it because the theming was done so thoroughly.

More next time!

Where’s the FUN in Fundamentals?

A brief interregnum from the halcyon days of simple, nonsense games – and an update from the real world..

So for my Dice game assignment, I decided I was going to CHALLENGE myself. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to make. It had to be something that meant something to me, something that I had personally struggled with. That naturally led me to school – and I thought, why not make an educational game? Educational gaming was something that had always appealed to me. Growing up under the rigid Indian system of education, studies were studies and play was play; and the twain would never meet. Much of our studying was rote memorization of paragraphs, which I would reduce to bulleted points. And when that was too much to memorize, I would create mnemonics.  But mnemonics are a terrible, terrible way to understand concepts. So for the longest time I would struggle to find a way to find the “fun” in “fundamentals”.

However, I don’t think I ever succeeded.

And that’s why I wanted my dice game to be an educational game. As I fiddled with my dice,  the first idea that came to my mind was chemistry. I thought that the dots of the die would lend themselves nicely to electrons. So atomic chemistry it would be: a topic that I loved very dearly as a student. The next question was make-or-break: what demographic should I target? The obvious answer seemed to be middle-school-ish. That wouldn’t be tackling concepts that were too simple, and at the same time, the subject matter would be accessible enough for most of my playtesters to assess my game justly. But where, thought I, would be the CHALLENGE in that?? So I decided to make a game on a topic of great interest to me that was shrouded in an eternal mystery – quantum chemistry.  I thought it would be an interesting challenge to take up because there are no learning tools to visualize the complex quantum models of atoms: everything is more mathematical and less visual.

And so, for this reason, after nearly a decade I delved into quantum chemistry once again to try to reinterpret it in a more student-friendly way.

As I begun playtesting the game, I realized what a deep grave I had systematically and methodically dug for myself. Or I should say, what a multitude of graves. Three of these are presented for consideration this week.

GRAVE #1: It’s all in the name

For starters, most people were intimidated by the words quantum chemistry. I realized that I was labelling my game in an alienating way by saying straight-up what it was. So I began calling it a fun learning game (if only to snare them into playing the game :D). The name itself was really boring. Quantum Chemistry Game is an oxymoron – it was also bad branding because it wasn’t actually explaining what the game was about (filling electrons in the atom to make different elements). So towards the end of my iterating process, around the 8th or 9th iteration, I renamed it “Valency Vacancy”. It conveyed what the game was about, quite literally: there are vacancies (in the atom) that you must fill according to the valencies you have (with each roll of the dice). Also, I wanted to use some fun alliteration and rhyming, because everything is better with wordplay.

GRAVE #2: What is fun? Baby don’t hurt me, no more

Playtesters for my initial iterations did not seem to be learning much. Nor having wild raucous fun. As I made changes to remedy these ailments, I started making rough interest curves to figure out which parts of the game I had to improve. When I charted the correlation between the moments when they were learning and when they were having fun, I noticed it was almost complementary. In other words, when they were having fun, they weren’t learning, and vice versa. (I used the simplest metric for fun – laughter. I know it isn’t the best nor the most fool-proof way of measuring fun, but then we must ponder on the question of what fun even is.) The times they were having fun was when the elements of randomness were setting in, like unlocking wild card combinations in the game. But randomness is undesirable when you want to teach something as precise and methodical as the rules by which electrons arrange themselves in atomic shells. After a lot of heartbroken agonizing towards the end of my iteration process, I looked at the other side of the “fun versus learning” conflict: the learning part. Why weren’t the playtesters having fun? Because they were trying their best to understand the science-y parts – Which was what I wanted! They were actually understanding the rules, albeit not fully, but the game was achieving what it was scoped to. They were also able to apply the rules they learned to some extent. So while my game was doing well on the learning front, the secret of fun was still eluding me. Which, when I thought about, led me to the next deep grave..

GRAVE #3: COOPERATE, IN THE NAME OF FRIENDSHIP! AND KNOWLEDGE!

In my ideal world, all students would happily cooperate and teach each other what they know, creating a vast pool of shared resources that all can draw from. However this socialist fantasy was doomed, as socialist fantasies are wont to. Because player to player communication is hard to ensure in a game where every player is also learning – most of the times, I noticed, my playtesters were completely immersed in their own boards, figuring out what it was that they were supposed to do next. There was barely any eye contact between players, and their body language suggested isolation rather than community. So to remedy this I decided to take away their individual boards and put a common board where they played together. This automatically made them feel like they were playing together. But! It was easy to think that was the be-all-and-end-all solution, when really it was just a simple fix-it. The players were still not communicating and talking, so I asked them to start thinking aloud. As they did this, they started correcting the mistakes in each others’ thought processes. To completely remove the feeling of competition and increase cooperation, I also removed the race-to-the-finish element of the game, where the winner was the first person to reach the end of the atomic shells. I felt that this problem of cooperation seemed to be one of the few problems that was solved the end of all my iterations.

More grave talk.. next week.

The Nostalgia Games

The other day, I was reading about the power of smell – and how out of all the 5 senses it is the quickest to trigger memories and emotional responses. The olfactory bulb has close access to the amygdala (which processes information), and the hippocampus (which is responsible for associative learning). Throw into the mix conditioned responses, and the brain forges connections linking certain events or persons or things to certain smells.

Games, I thought, have a rather similar effect.

While doing the second game design assignment – which asked us to list 100 games that we had played from the age of 5 onwards – I rediscovered a lot of old games that I had forgotten about almost completely. Playing some of these games, and even thinking about some of them, brought back so many buried memories and half-forgotten images. As I was writing down the game descriptions, so many of them – particularly the ones played in school – brought back such vivid memories of friends obsessively trying to beat each other at tic-tac-toe, or dots, or name-place-animal-thing.

Growing up amongst Indian expatriates in the Middle East, I thought we would have developed a whole subset of verbal and rhyming games that Indian kids in the mainland did not play – but here I found myself totally wrong. There were very few games that we did not have in common with children all across India. Somehow, these games had breached the sizeable geographical and cultural barrier of distance and language – without any technology whatsoever.

When I sat down to think about why those games were so successful, I first tried to find some commonalities between them. There must have been some reason that so many children across different ages, interests and personalities enjoyed playing the same three or four games over and over again! The first answer that presented itself was the lack of technology and information spread in our lives. This was in the early 90s – it would be decade before computers and the internet became ubiquitous and all-pervasive. So games had to have simple instructions, mechanics and gameplay to achieve a widespread reach.

Interestingly, they also had to be repetitive. While I thought this would be a drawback, the more I thought about it he more it made sense. Practicing anything repetitively physically changes the brain. With time and effort, you get better at the specific task you’re practicing – whether it’s shooting at the enemy in a video game, or hitting a cricket ball. Those repetitive actions and thoughts stimulate connections between brain cells, creating neural pathways between different parts of the brain. The more you practice a certain activity, the stronger that neural pathway becomes – the structural basis of learning. Games that link up different parts of the brain – like hand-patting games, where you have to rhythmically pat each others’ hands in a certain order and rapidly sing a long, convoluted rhyme, in sync – were always more fun than games that only used a certain skill. A rhythm game that requires repeated motions can also spread more easily, and lend itself to the cadences of different languages.

These repetitive actions were almost always stronger in the games that I played when I was younger. They also tended to be more linear – restarting is always right from the top. As I grew older though, I started playing video games, which were so much more complex in terms of structure and gameplay. They required thinking of an overall strategy, performing several tasks simultaneously, and making decisions that had both an immediate and long-term impact. Such a game would not have spread across millions of miles without the aid of technology – simply because it would be so very hard to explain.

More thoughts on the memories that games stir up – next week.

Little Inferno? More like Little Infer-yeah!

The game is about a city named Burnington, which is constantly covered in snow and is slowly freezing over (at this point, I could completely relate to the story, since I was also slowly freezing in Pittsburgh’s 40 F weather). In this apocalyptic world, you play as the unnamed protagonist, and you are asked to burn various objects in your empty “Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace”. You start off with a catalogue of items that you can order to burn and keep yourself warm. As you burn items, you collect more money and coupons throughout the game, and unlock more catalogues and items to burn. By burning certain items together, you unlock combos that give you more money and coupons. There are 99 combos in total that player must unlock to finish the game.

Since there are no instructions nor any tutorials, the story and setting of the world conveyed through letters sent by three Non-Playable Characters (NPCs), who each have a very distinct important function in telling the story:

  1. The CEO of Tomorrow Corporation, Miss Nancy: She informs you about most of the gameplay, including how to literally start playing the game. She also tells you about the Tomorrow Corporation, who are the creators of “Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace”.

  2. Your neighbour, Sugar Plumps: An excitable and affectionate, though somewhat vacuous young girl who gives you the most insight into the world. Although she is seemingly irrelevant in the beginning, it is revealed that her situation mirrors yours – so her narrative provides perspective as to who you are and the meaning behind your actions. She is also instrumental in moving the story forward, as she is the catalyst for the climax: you burning your house down.

  3. The Weather Man: He is a Tomorrow Corporation employee who periodically describes the weather in some variation of ‘really cold’. He is the one who eventually the story closure, as at the end of the game, you fly away out of the city with him in his weather balloon.

The game also satirizes the omnipresent corporation, through the self-referential, vaguely menacing “Tomorrow Corporation”. The protagonist’s only possessions come from Tomorrow Corporation’s catalogues, which filled with strange and sometimes downright terrifying items. These guys are every bit as terrifying as a real six-sigma company – they have creepy saccharine-sweet advertisements in which children explode, they seem to own everything in town, even the in-universe money is called “Tomorrow Bucks”.

***

Flow

Little Inferno never gets impossibly hard, nor is it ever boringly easy. Despite there being only six catalogues and 20 items in each catalogue, an interesting combo system based on visual puns, wordplay and good old-fashioned matching (relying on your memory) ensure that the difficulty vs skill balance is always maintained. After unlocking a certain number of combos per catalogue, the player can proceed to unlocking the next catalogue. The combo system is a masterstroke on the creators’ part, because it ensures that the game never swings to the extremities of too hard or too easy. Some of the combos require a lot of thought, but the game teaches you to recognize the patterns in finding combos by looking carefully at the descriptions of the items, the way items burn, and even the names of the items – and finding connections.

***

Interest Curve

Little Inferno cleverly piques interest by not giving any information. It has a good interest curve, which can be roughly broken down as:

Interest Curve
Little Inferno Interest Curve

A : The game begins and you set the first item on fire.

B : First messages from Miss Nancy, Sugar Plumps, and the Weather Man. Unlocking first combo. Unlocking new catalogue.

C : Finding out that Sugar Plumps is your neighbour, when she knocks at your door.

D : A lack of communication from Miss Nancy, Sugar Plumps and the Weather Man made the game a little boring, because the story was not progressing and all I felt I was doing was mechanically finding combos.

E : The moment when Sugar Plumps burns her own home down. I felt the build up to this moment was really good, because she had been dropping hints in her correspondence that “this can’t last forever”, and that she would burn her house down. When she actually did it, it proved that she was no longer the air-headed girl from the beginning of the story. Then her ghost continued sending letters.. I got a little scared of her at this point.

F : There was a lull in my interest as I got stuck with around 20 of the hardest combos left. I had to go to every object and methodically burn it again and again to see the clues I had missed the first time around.

G : Sugar Plumps tells you about the special combo #100, with which you can set your final possession – your house – on fire.

After setting the house on fire, leaving the fireplace behind to step out and explore the actual game world. I was very curious to see the apocalyptic icy wasteland I was certain I would find, but the world of Little Inferno surprised me by being a Dickensian industrial setting (complete with a family shivering in the cold). Finding out what happened to my only link to the outside world – Miss Nancy, Sugar Plumps and the Weather Man – also added to my excitement.

H : Credits sequence. Adds to the feel and mystique of the game.

Interactivities

1. Difficulty vs Skill

In the involvement part of my Little Inferno gameplaying experience it seemed to me that I should be wise with my money and spend it sparingly, so I wouldn’t run out of money to buy more items and hit a dead-end. But to increase player involvement, the creators of the game cleverly make sure that you never stop the game – you always earn more money than you had when you burn items. In the world of Little Inferno, however, time is as plentiful as money. Every item has a delivery period, which can range from 15 seconds to 5 minutes. The coupons that you collect can be used to deliver items instantly; but as it turned out, waiting is far harder than frugality, and I often ended up with too much money and no coupons to ensure instant delivery of my items (in order to make sure that you don’t run out of money and don’t get bored while your items are arriving, the game has little spiders and flying bugs in the fireplace that you can kill for even more coupons and money).

It was testament to how immersed I was in the game, that while waiting for the very last item on the catalogue to be delivered, I actually waited for five whole minutes.. Staring at an empty fireplace and occasionally killing spiders. The investment part of my experience paid off very well towards the end, as I reached the climax of the journey by burning my home down, and thus starting off on the next big journey.

2. Visual and Audio Feedback

Little Inferno excels at telling a complex story in fits and spurts. The player is thrown headfirst into the game, without any explanation in the form of tutorials or cutscenes, and the setting of the game’s world is only introduced around an hour into the game. It is for this reason that feedback is extremely important, because without a strong, repeated feedback, the naive guest would be completely lost in the game.

The feedback is both outright and subtle. The money (“Tomorrow Bucks”) you earn by burning items shows how much you have earned when you tap on it. When you click on any item in the catalogue, it shows an animation of the item. When you buy any item, or use a coupon for an express delivery, it is accordingly conveyed clearly in the game.

However there is some foreshadowing in the form of very subtle feedback too. The four items that you need to burn down your house are the only four items that the face carved into your fireplace will interact with in normal gameplay. When burned separately, Broken Magnet makes the cogs turn faster, Jar of Fireflies makes the face’s mouth open, Toy Exterminator makes the face glow red, Fashionable Sunglasses can be worn by the face. By way of story feedback too, they are also the four items that Sugar Plumps requests that you send her.

The game’s UI is simple and easy for the player to understand. The total amount of money you have earned as well as the coupons is shown clearly on the left side of the screen all the time. All 99 combos can be viewed by clicking on the right side of the screen, for easy reference. In the catalogues too, the items are animated in a cute style which, paired with the Tim Burtonesque art style, give a feeling of dissonance that adds to the dystopian feel of the world. The fire effects are also beautifully done and very responsive. The art style is minimal and quiet in-game – with muted sepia tones in the fireplace gameplay and black and white in the epilogue gameplay – but by contrast, the catalogues of Tomorrow Corporation are almost offensively bright and reinforce the feeling of forced, corporation-mandated cheerfulness.

Possibly the greatest aesthetic values of the game, however, is the evocative audio experience. It gives Little Inferno an emotional feel and keeps it from being yet another starving-child-in-a-post-apocalyptic-future story (of which there are too many nowadays!). The soundtrack is at times playful and whimsical, but also pensive and introspective. The OST of this game is absolutely one that you must check out. The longer pieces are standout, for sure, but even the shorter ones, clocking at barely 10 seconds, are unique and beautiful. During certain points in the game, the musical tone changes completely to reflect what is happening in the story sequences. This change ensures a strong impact on the mood of the game and the player. For instance, at certain ‘moments’ in the game – like finding out that Sugar Plumps is your neighbour and is trapped in her own home just like you – the music changes after a brief uncanny silence. These moments are enhanced by the complete lack of music. The crackling of the fire, the noises that each item makes, all have distinct sounds that do not interfere or reduce the potency of the music.

All in all, there is much more to Little Inferno than just buy-’n-burn. Little Inferno harnesses a brilliant story premise, beautiful music and a unique art style to create a poetic experience that is both a commentary on consumerism and a satirical self-parody.