In my previous post about project 2, I prototyped an interactive fiction in a world where all gender-affirming care is banned. After testing on classmates and people who are unfamiliar with trans/queer healthcare, I found that for purposes of this project scope and timeline, I would be unable to present a story dedicated to queer/trans healthcare that would be compelling to those that do not have a personal connection. Those individuals would need a very different entry point into this conversation so they can see how queer healthcare IS healthcare and a human right necessary for all.
I had a hard time presenting the story in a way that does not “other” queer healthcare. I did not want queer healthcare to be justified because cisgender people also access treatments queer people use for gender-affirming care.
After lots of research, video essays, and conversations with Queer healthcare educators, I decided to reframe my narrative from the lenses of an Insurance company and how dystopia our current healthcare system is, to the point that we have lost all bodily autonomy here in the United States.
I created a baby version of my narrative and tested that among people not familiar with interactive or any games, because I wanted to test the GUI elements I would be using.
The game is a mod of Papers, Please and starts off you getting hired at this new insurance company, Better US, and you begin approving or denying insurance claims. Below is an image of a “case.”
People had issues with the faceless icon and the underlined text. The faceless icon made it extremely hard for the players to connect with each case, something I need for them to do later in the game. The underlined text seemed like links to more information, and made the players frustrated/harder to read.
I will be editing the cases to include more personalized icons, no underlined text, use of bold and normal weight to increase readability.
I also tested on people having the insurance levels on the same page as the cases or on separate pages. People were adamant that having the levels defined on the same page made them less likely to think about the case or the person and more likely to just use the level definition.
The game goes from a new Day with a new newspaper that states what is banned or allowed treatment and then the cases. From testing, I found I could increase player buy-in by adding “appeals” after each day, so they can hear emotional or logical appeals for their claim to be approved.
The final game will have a part after the case reviews that follows the story of a patient who died due to constantly being denied. The playtesters enjoyed that twist and being made complicit in the death.