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Games Created by Women: Blackwell’s Asylum

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Would you think you would be able to survive in a nineteenth century mental institution? What if, once admitted, you were sent to an asylum known as a place where no one ever left? What if the doctors were not only there to keep you from escaping but also to perform whatever atrocities on you that they wished?

Blackwell’s Asylum is a game that tests the abilities of the player to not only survive but also  to escape a terrifying asylum for the insane. Claudia Billie Stræde was the director of this game which started out as a project for the University she was attending. Blackwell’s Asylum was a multiple nominee. It also won Game of the Year and the Adventure/Roleplay category in the Intel Level Up 2011 Game Demo Contest. The game is also interesting becuase it was inspired by true events.

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Claudia was inspired by the written chronicle from Nellie Bly. Bly was a writer who had started her career as a young woman writing; “women’s columns.”  Bly wanted to write about more than cleaning and traveled to New York seeking opportunities. There she pitched the idea of going undercover at a mental hospital to expose what was really happening behind the closed doors of such institutions. For ten days she gained information and stories from other patients. Upon her release Bly wrote down everything in her six-part series called; Ten Days in a Mad-House. This work helped not only expose the crimes of the asylum but also gained more funding for public institutions to try to improve them.

The design of the game is interesting and unsettling. The player starts off, as Nellie, restrained as a doctor drugs them. The player then tries to escape. The coloring of the game is dark and it can make it difficult to determine where in the game the player is.  The effects of the drugs only aid in making the surroundings distorted and confusing.

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There are random shouts and other noises to make it difficult to focus. Blackwell’s Asylum does have a neat effect in which large circles like sonar when footsteps get closer to the player as they sneaking in the darkness. It is the only effect that helps the player with all the distortion. The character design is very well done. The sound effects also aid in the gameplay. 

Blackwell’s Asylum is an interesting first person game of escape.

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ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

 

Influental Women in the Gaming Industry: Claudia Billie Stræde

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Some women are just powerhouses from a young age. Claudia Billie Stræde is one of those women. She has accomplished so much already and doesn’t seem to have any intention of slowing down.

Claudia is a Danish filmmaker and animator. She was admitted to the Danish Film School. There Claudia was the youngest director in the animation department. However instead of staying there in 2006 she dropped out to attend the Academy of Untamed Creativity instead. Claudia found a better fit for her passions there.

That was when she started to learn about animation. Claudia also found like minded students at the Academy of Untamed Creativity. In 2007 they banded together to create and event called The D.I.Y. Film Club. This event was an opportunity for more obscure films to have a place to be shown. It featured films that ranged from obscure art to homemade documentaries.

Claudia then attended the Copenhagen Film and Photo School. She was able to study live action filmmaking for a whole year. There she got to also experience different aspects of filmmaking. Claudia was able to do everything including; directing, producing, cinematography, editing and sound design. After that Claudia felt the pull to go back to the Danish Film School.

This time Claudia stayed. She got to work on many different projects, including computer games. Here she had access to state of the art equipment. Claudia teamed up with other students to create a horror game called Blackwell’s Asylum.

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Blackwell’s Asylum is a horror themed adventure/roleplay game. The team was inspired by the true life experiences of Nellie Bly, a female journalist who went undercover in an insane asylum to expose the horror in the mental health field at the time. The game has the player wake up, drugged in an asylum in the early 1900s. The goal is to get past wardens and escape. Claudia was the director of the game. Blackwell’s Asylum won the 2011 Game of the Year and winner for the Adventure/Roleplay category in the Intel Level Up 2011 Game Demo Contest.

Claudia is a great example of working toward your passion on your terms. By learning and experimenting your goals will be exceeded.

During this holiday season give Blackwell’s Asylum a try…if you think you can get out with your sanity in tact.

 

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!