Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ayity: The Cost of Life








Never have I played a game where I felt so heartbroken and exposed when it was all over.  Ayity (Creole for Haiti) puts you in control of a family of five living in the slums of Haiti.  The game is about work, living, survival, health, and happiness.  You, are in complete control of all of these elements.  As the game begins, you are faced with a decision.  Do you strive to be happy, healthy, educated, or wealthy? I decided to go down the path of happiness.  The landscape is defined by several physical elements:  The family farm, the family living quarters, a hospital and a school.  The scope of the game is 4 years, broken down by seasonal weather in haiti: Hurricane Season, Dry Season, etc...As the season come and go, you witness the implications of your actions. You ultimately get to decide which individual does what.  Do the kids go to school? Do the parents go to work? Does the oldest son work?  Does the entire family work?  Where do they work?  In the family farm? As rum distillers at a factory?  As the season progresses you get to see first hand exactly how much goud is made, how much is lost, who gets sick, who gets happier or depressed. 

I had a goal to achieve.  I wanted this Haitian family to be happy.  What I found was the exact opposite.  Under every circumstance, I found that the family was losing happiness, getting sick from the weather and from work, and ultimately losing money for hospital visits and school tuition.  Every season I tried to make it better, but it only got much worse.  The family was evicted from their living space, the family never made ends meat; in fact they stayed in the negative the entire 4 years, the children died, and the family suffered.  Ayity presents a harsh Haitian reality.  The season are harsh and unforgiving.  Individuals die, suffer, and are inextricably tied to eternal impoverishment.  

Overall, I give my highest ranking to Ayity.  Never have I been so affected by a game before.  


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