Would you play a "mental disability" VN similar to KS?

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Merlyn_LeRoy
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Re: Would you play a "mental disability" VN similar to KS?

Post by Merlyn_LeRoy » Sun Jan 15, 2012 12:58 am

imperial.standard wrote:
Honeymuffin wrote:Sociopathy/psychopathy is out, because both variations of this disorder involve having little/no feeling toward others. A relationship may be possible with such a person, but your feelings could never be reciprocated... And in a game based around generating feelings in the player, that's a bad combo.
Not to mention that any action taken by character afflicted with such disorder would ultimately benefit his/herself only at the cost of others.
I'm not sure sociopathy should be excluded on those grounds...
Here is an extremely interesting blog I've read on & off: http://www.sociopathworld.com
Here's the most poplar post: http://www.sociopathworld.com/2009/01/d ... -love.html
By the way, I had no clue that sociopaths detest narcissists.

On a totally different note, how about one being suicidal? The leading cause of death for women 15-34 in Japan is suicide. One thing that bothered me in KS is how Hisao seems to pretty much ignore possible suicide danger signs (Rin's self-destructiveness and Misha saying maybe it would be better if she just died). A VN where you have to notice and act on signs like these in one girl's path might be interesting.

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Re: Would you play a "mental disability" VN similar to KS?

Post by imperial.standard » Sun Jan 15, 2012 1:05 am

Merlyn_LeRoy wrote: By the way, I had no clue that sociopaths detest narcissists.
This may be a self-deprecating joke?
Merlyn_LeRoy wrote: On a totally different note, how about one being suicidal? The leading cause of death for women 15-34 in Japan is suicide. One thing that bothered me in KS is how Hisao seems to pretty much ignore possible suicide danger signs (Rin's self-destructiveness and Misha saying maybe it would be better if she just died). A VN where you have to notice and act on signs like these in one girl's path might be interesting.
Great idea! I think there was listed in the link I posted something about suicidal and depressions. Feel free to write up more!
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Merlyn_LeRoy
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Re: Would you play a "mental disability" VN similar to KS?

Post by Merlyn_LeRoy » Sun Jan 15, 2012 1:19 am

imperial.standard wrote:
Merlyn_LeRoy wrote: By the way, I had no clue that sociopaths detest narcissists.
This may be a self-deprecating joke?
It doesn't seem to be; I've read the blog a few times, and it seems sincere. Not that I understand why, but that's why it could be interesting.

Also, note that a lot of animation comedy is sociopathic: Bugs Bunny, Haruhi S., Bart Simpson, etc. Basically, people (or funny animals) doing what they want without regard for other people. Playing a character like that straight has a lot of possibilities.

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Re: Would you play a "mental disability" VN similar to KS?

Post by QbertEnhanced » Sun Jan 15, 2012 1:27 am

Well, I personally think that by the time a mental issue needs treatment in a psychiatry ward or hospital it might have gone too far for such a character to be easily relatable. As far as characters, my personal favourites so far are:
- Depression: A girl with depression could make for an interesting path. The MC could learn to be dependable and what it means to REALLY be there for someone. Could do something interesting with a character who is
- PTSD: Child soldier? Accident survivor? So many different origins here, but could all involve learning to overcome hardship, look towards the future and all that jazz
- Hikkikomori: Come out of your room...self-explanatory, however I don't know how much has been done on HOW people become hikkikomori.
- Social Rebel: Could be a fun path, maybe by pleasing the girl you get the bad end? Sent to a disciplinary school/prison, whilst the good end actually involved taking a stand for yourself etc.
- Sociopath: I really like the idea of having a crazy, yet superficially charming character in the mix, could lead to a bad act 1 ending or some such
- List maniac: ...

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Re: Would you play a "mental disability" VN similar to KS?

Post by Smoky » Sun Jan 15, 2012 1:33 am

I think Selective mutism might be a nice one to add, as well. It would allow a character in which the majority of what they do is expressing themselves through means other than their voice. Not only would that make writing for them a lot easier, since they would only speak when they need/want to, but it would also make the MC have to work around that to get to know that character.
"Maybe people like butterfly vomit." - Rin

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Re: Would you play a "mental disability" VN similar to KS?

Post by TankToast » Sun Jan 15, 2012 1:37 am

deadleaves wrote:
TankToast wrote:I wouldn't be ok with any disability that affects a character's cognitive or behavioral abilities. That seems unhealthy and easily exploitative. So I wouldn't be ok with autism unless it was only within the asperger spectrum. And even then, within the low range. Even moderate to low cases of true autism involve stunted social and personal development. In such cases the character just wouldn't seem to be a realistic romantic interest in a high-school aged setting as it would take much more time for a character with true autism, as has been suggested, to mature emotionally and mentally enough for such relationships. And even then, it is not uncommon for sufferers to simply show no interest in such things their whole lives.
My main point, I find it very hard to think that a romantic VN with an autistic heroine could be very...good?
I believe in media these days, it is popular to assume that awkward, weird, rude, and/or obsessive characters have asperger's. This drives me nuts sometimes. Any awkward guy or gal does not show that distinctive closed-off or rather unaware tendency.
I'd have to disagree with you, a person with high functioning autism or asperger syndrome are generally by the age of 18-20 or so very developed emotionally, while their social skills might be lacking, they're not lacking in emotional capacity, and thus I think portraying a romance with someone who has a difficulty in social situations might actually be interesting, since it manifests differently from the usual "shy" character that features in a lot of movies/games/books/etc. and I don't see anything exploitable in it considering that people with these difficulties usually are quite smart and hardly someone that you can exploit easily. You might be right however that someone suffering from low functioning autism might not be possible without it seeming slightly unbelievable. So I guess I agree with you that far, but I still think the first example would fit perfectly in a story like this.

But in the end its all in the portrayal, you can make pretty much any relation seem unhealthy or wrong if you write it in intent of making it so.
I stated that I wouldn't be ok with an autistic character being portrayed as a romantic interest UNLESS they were high functioning. And while people within the spectrum have the same capacity for emotion as anyone, a mainstay of the disorder is a difficulty understanding and projecting behavioral cues, which is essential for high level communication such as in a romantic relationship. Of course, everybody is different.

Now that I think more about it, I'm just not liking the idea. How would a group of characters with mental and neurological disorders (mentally disabled doesn't seem like the right words the way it's been described) be round up in one place? Hanako fit's the bill for this game afterall, what with the PTSD, and she was fairly unique in Yamaku. I'm sure there more students with mental disorders associated with their disabilities, but not so many as to design a game with only mentally disturbed characters.
I suppose they could meet in a mental hospital, but that yells dysfunction. Unless that's what people want. It would seem like the moral of Hanako's route over and over, let her work through her problems, you can't fix them, etc.
A main character with a disorder also seems iffy. Depending on the disorder, of course. A choice based plot would be strange given a character with a mental condition that makes them unable to make reasonable or healthy decision.

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Re: Would you play a "mental disability" VN similar to KS?

Post by Merlyn_LeRoy » Sun Jan 15, 2012 1:54 am

TankToast wrote:How would a group of characters with mental and neurological disorders (mentally disabled doesn't seem like the right words the way it's been described) be round up in one place?
Would it be too unrealistic to have all of them be pre-diagnostic teens? They have symptoms of various disorders, maybe in milder form, which get worse over the course of the story. The player wouldn't even know what was wrong with each person. They could all be constantly in school detention for being "troublemakers". The main character wouldn't have to have a mental disorder, he could just be a jerk or antisocial or something.

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Re: Would you play a "mental disability" VN similar to KS?

Post by Benkei » Sun Jan 15, 2012 2:13 am

TankToast wrote:Now that I think more about it, I'm just not liking the idea. How would a group of characters with mental and neurological disorders (mentally disabled doesn't seem like the right words the way it's been described) be round up in one place?
This is the very problem I mentioned earlier:
Benkei wrote:There'd be a lot of hurdles for such a game to overcome, though. Perhaps the most troubling one of all is the setting.
While we were able to suspend our disbelief for Yamaku, I don't think most of us would be able to suspend our disbelief for a "Psych Yamaku" which places the DID student in the same classroom -- or any classroom at all, for that matter -- with the autistic student and the social anxiety student. The learning profiles are so different that it just wouldn't be believable. A patient with DID would need private, one-on-one instruction. Why? Because every time their dominant and/or their learning personality becomes dormant and a new one surfaces, you have to wait patiently before you can continue on with the lesson, I imagine. This is especially true if some of the personalities are quite incompatible with educational instruction (e.g. if one of them is a 5-year old girl who wants to play with her dollies or if one of them is a 38-year nihilist who rejects the teacher and his or her efforts). A patient with mental retardation would require a very different education to ones without it. So on and so forth. Quite simply, I'm not convinced that a high school is an ideal setting for a harem VN like this.

The likeliest places to find a wide array of psychiatric diseases all in one place are:
  • hospitals
  • therapy offices
  • psych wards
  • prison
Most psych patients are not kept in hospitals for the long term, though, so that doesn't make for a compelling setting. The idea of a therapist partnering off with one of his many female patients is right out, of course. This really only leaves you, then, with either the psych wards or the prison system.

Instead of being worried about where psych patients can be found in highest concentration, consider instead the possibility of telling the stories of five different women who suffer from five different kinds of psychiatric problems and who the protagonist meets in different places and/or in different ways. So for instance, you could tell the story of a guy who moves into a new apartment in a new city and ...
  • his landlady is one candidate for the harem, and her disability is [Disability A]
  • a cute cashier he runs into at the supermarket and later runs into when he helps her get her car unstuck from a snow bank is the second candidate, and she happens to have [Disability B]
  • his new boss is a woman with [Disability C]
  • a mysterious girl he sees on the street has [Disability D]
And so on. It's a little farfetched that every girl this guy is interested in happens to have some sort of psych problem ... but then again, is it really? Is it really that farfetched? According to the NIMH, roughly 6% of all American females suffer from one form of mental illness or another, with that number approaching 8% for people ages 18-25 years old (both genders taken together). Certainly I'd be more likely to believe that a guy might pick from among five different women and that each of the five women have a different form of psychological disorder than I would be able to believe that all five women, with their very different afflictions requiring very different therapies and treatments, would just so happen to be in the same high school or workplace.

If the desire is really that strong, though, to have some or all of the women know each other, and therefore you have to have a common setting for them to be in, then I guess I would repeat that the likeliest settings would either be a psych ward or else the prison system. Neither of these is particularly savory, though, nor do they engender a positive image in players' minds as the male protagonist (be he patient/inmate or nurse/doctor/guard) proceeds to woo one of the five lady patients/inmates. It just feels ... I dunno ... much more exploitative when you have the guy shooting fish in a barrel instead of meeting these girls on the outside, falling in love with them on the outside, and dealing with their psychiatric affliction as one part of the entire package.

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Re: Would you play a "mental disability" VN similar to KS?

Post by Smoky » Sun Jan 15, 2012 2:20 am

I was thinking it would be similar to Yamaku, but, it's a college instead. The school is centered around the students, giving them a chance to earn a low level degree, and at the same time they are no longer bound by classes every morning (not to mention, it would provide online classes for Hikkikomoris or others that wish to take things at their own pace). This also allows "normal" students that wish to attend for early experiences in their possible fields (think of Misha and how attending Yamaku was helping her in becoming a sign language teacher). This means some students can live in the dorms and some may travel to attend.

Granted, even this idea has problems, since only the lower/common mental illnesses would work.
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Re: Would you play a "mental disability" VN similar to KS?

Post by Honeymuffin » Sun Jan 15, 2012 2:35 am

If it were my call, I'd have the setting be a psychiatric hospital that specializes in providing young, troubled individuals with long-term care. Due to the fact that many of its patients ended up missing school due to being institutionalized, an education program is gradually phased in until the hospital is sanctioned by the government to bestow high-school diplomas to patients who are able to pass their classes.

I could see something like this happening in real life. After all, mental disorders DO still occur in children and youth, and possibly a large enough number that a facility especially for them arises. From there it just takes a government policy like "No Child Left Behind" to sway public opinion towards giving every kid a chance at a future; even those who are committed. Bam, now the psychiatric hospital has an education program. Maybe even one-on-one teaching sessions for extremely problematic patients.

It sounds feasible to me, or at least as much as Yamaku did when I first heard of KS. After the school was explained a bit at the beginning of KS I found myself able to accept it as a possible occurrence. I believe that would the the case for this sort of facility as well.

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Re: Would you play a "mental disability" VN similar to KS?

Post by Benkei » Sun Jan 15, 2012 2:43 am

Another thing you guys could consider doing would be to just tell the story of one woman per game. Each game might be much shorter than KS is but at the same time might be just as long as any of KS's individual routes are. This way, you can have five different protagonists who are each paired off with one of five different women and you could explore one psychological disability at a time. This avoids some of the logistics problems like ...
  • Why would 5+ girls with serious psychiatric problems all happen to be in the exact same setting?
  • Why did the protagonist also wind up in that setting? Does he also have to suffer from a psychiatric problem?
Such a project would, in effect, be more similar to writing five different Narcissus than it would be like writing one Katawa Shoujo. People might be disappointed to lose the fun in docking on a particular path, but if your team isn't necessarily committed to producing a harem game, then this could be an approach worth considering.

One merit to this approach is that you could also cover the different age groups (and the settings relevant to those age groups) more easily. For example, ADHD or anorexia nervosa typically feel like adolescent or young adult problems with a high school for a setting while schizophrenia is something which you wouldn't expect to find until college-age or later and would expect to have a university or a workplace for its setting.

The major problem with this approach, but it's only a problem if your group wants it to be one, is that by telling each story one game at a time, you wouldn't be making a "Mental Disabilities KS" and, without your group making it clear via announcements and Easter eggs or such, it might not even be obvious to players that the game anthology was inspired by KS. However, as stated, you could try to make it clear via Easter eggs (e.g. a doll that looks like Hanako can be found on the player's bedstand in Game #2, Rin's painting can be found on someone's living room wall in Game #4, etc) or via blog announcements.

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Re: Would you play a "mental disability" VN similar to KS?

Post by QbertEnhanced » Sun Jan 15, 2012 3:14 am

I'm still feeling that a full blow psychiatric ward might be a step too far. Yamaku was shown as a place for those who have DIFFICULTIES functioning, IE things like wheelchair friendly classrooms and such. Generally though, for a mental condition to be severe enough to warrant being placed in a full blown mental hospital, it usually means the individual is INCAPABLE of functioning in normal society. During my undergrad I once volunteered in Kingston Psychiatric Hospital (which I believe has recently changed names) and it was really not the kind of place I think you'd want to go forming relationships. The people there are in need of serious help, some are even dangerous, to themselves and others. I think with some creativity a better solution could present itself. In the real world, where are those who can function, but have noticable mental quirks end up? In KS, the main focus of a few of the paths were actually mental issues. I think a fair argument could be made for Rin being autistic, or Hanako suffering from PTSD. So where would people like this logically group up?
I think my earlier suggestion of a school for children with behaviour problems and such could work.
I also think that another possible premise could be a group home, established to take in children whose parents couldn't raise them or passed away. In such a setting you could reasonably expect to find people whose parents could not deal with their issues. This setting could also work for a character suffering from PTSD from some traumatic incident.
In summary, I think the setting should be some sort of institution or home focusing on support, not treatment. A place to catch the little people who've fallen out of society, but are not dangerous to others.

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Re: Would you play a "mental disability" VN similar to KS?

Post by Honeymuffin » Sun Jan 15, 2012 3:17 am

I think that both an episodic approach and the harem approach have their merits and demerits, and in the end I would enjoy writing for either type. The one thing that stands out for me in KS' take on the harem approach, however, is that I formed a sort of emotional bond with the school itself. Between Hisao's lovingly-crafted descriptions of the grounds and the air of acceptance that Yamaku tries to promote for its students, I started to feel strangely... "At home" there if that makes any sense, to the point where I'd even feel a sense of calm when returning to it after leaving for an extended period during a few of the girl's paths.

I dunno man, this game does things to me.

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Re: Would you play a "mental disability" VN similar to KS?

Post by alabaster » Sun Jan 15, 2012 3:52 am

Honeymuffin wrote:I think that both an episodic approach and the harem approach have their merits and demerits, and in the end I would enjoy writing for either type. The one thing that stands out for me in KS' take on the harem approach, however, is that I formed a sort of emotional bond with the school itself. Between Hisao's lovingly-crafted descriptions of the grounds and the air of acceptance that Yamaku tries to promote for its students, I started to feel strangely... "At home" there if that makes any sense, to the point where I'd even feel a sense of calm when returning to it after leaving for an extended period during a few of the girl's paths.

I dunno man, this game does things to me.
This is part of why I've been opposed to the idea of the game taking place in a psychiatric ward. I don't want there to be no connecting location, like in the example someone gave of simply meeting the various girls in different parts of the city that the main character lives in. I would want the story to unfold in some sort of location that feels like home, as you described the school in KS feeling. The ward sounds frightening and alien.. like a place you throw the broken people who will just never be part of society, and I think would turn people off from the game.

I'm warming up to Qbert's suggestion of a group home, though there's still a confining, small feel to a place like that, at least as I picture it. This could augment the sense of it being homey, if done right, or it could turn it claustrophobic.

At this point, I would still vote for a school setting. It's an easier setting for both the writers and the readers to relate to, and also provides that sense of a home for the story to take place in and around. It's got some size to it, though, and gives the story some room to breathe. The biggest issue here is it making sense. Granted, I think even Katawa Shoujo takes a few liberties stuffing all the different disabilities into a single building, but it might be harder to believe in this case. It seems to me that there's a fine balance to hit, giving the characters believable disorders but still making them functional people. They're not the kind of people that need to be locked away. They're just people, like the girls at Yamaku, who need a little extra help along the way.

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Re: Would you play a "mental disability" VN similar to KS?

Post by gekiganwing » Sun Jan 15, 2012 5:03 am

Characters with mental illness and psychological problems can be played for drama. It's possible to include some comedy or romance elements, but I imagine that could be rather difficult.

It's good to consider the setting. Asking "why are these characters in the same place?" is probably a good way to check your plot for flaws, and a useful way to think about the details of the story world. Additionally, you can only have so many games about schools or isolated mansions before the settings become redundant, or become increasingly unrealistic.

And it's useful to consider the type of story. While I admit that I like harem games, I also admit they're a guilty pleasure, and that Sturgeon's Law is definitely applicable. So consider the following:

* A visual novel centered around friendship. Can these people even relate to each other as friends?
* A more general plot. These characters might be troubled, broken people... but they have worries beyond the slice of life genre. They need to fight an enemy, solve a mystery, or something similar.
* Alternate pairings. I'm something of a GxB and a GxG fan. And I know the BxB fans are active and plentiful.

As others have said, don't rush to make a story about people with mental disabilities. Take it one step at a time.

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