When you change your LENSE, the world changes too

Danielle P., Gracie D., Jasmine S., Mia L.

In our game, the player takes the role of a person named Alex and attends a party. For the first round of the game, Alex has no mental illness, and for the second round Alex has social anxiety. This way, the player gets to see firsthand how the experience changes even as the events of the game remain exactly the same.

Mental disorders are rarely ever talked about in today’s society. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, over 18% of the nation lives with a mental illness, yet these disorders are never fully addressed. Furthermore, there are stigmas surrounding the discussion of these illnesses, making it hard to learn more.

How can one be expected to relate to something they have never experienced? We created a game to do just that. We wanted to simulate what it would be like to experience a specific situation with and without a mental disorder. We chose social anxiety as the disorder that our game portrays. We wrote our application in Python using the Pygame module, and we created Lense website from which anyone can download the game. The website also links players to more information on mental illness to further spread awareness.

We had a lot of issues getting the images to draw in the right order so that the images would appear and disappear at the right moments. Additionally, the timing of when these images appeared was a hard problem to solve. Through trial and error and advice from our mentors, we were able to overcome the challenges we faced.

While pitching our game to Michael Frederickson, Lead Technical Director at Pixar, he commented that the empathy we showed in our game with incredible and that the medium of our project being a game was a good way of facilitating the spread of information.

Danielle, Gracie, Jasmine, and Mia are four girls who participated in the Girls Who Code program located at Pixar Studios. For their final project, they decided to create a website that would address the lack of awareness and education surrounding mental disorders and disabilities. As rising juniors and seniors from the Bay Area, Danielle, Gracie, Jasmine, and Mia are all passionate about this social issue and hope that this project genuinely makes an impact. Danielle likes to take long walks on the beach, hiking in the wild west, and play with her cat, Pudge. Gracie enjoys getting caught in the rain, and sometimes she plays volleyball. Jasmine likes to draw and write epic stories. She also enjoys puzzle games for their lack of live combat.  Mia enjoys water polo.

This project was made by Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program students at Pixar.