Her Story is a crime fiction game for PC, Mac and iOS that takes place entirely on the desktop of a 90s era police computer. Players search through a database of interview room video footage to piece together the story of a woman questioned seven times by the police.
Sam Barlow set up as an independent micro-studio of one after over a decade as Lead Designer and Game Director on boxed console games -- most notably on Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Her Story is his first independent project, developed during the course of a year in Portsmouth, UK.
Barlow met Her Story's star Viva Seifert when he cast her as a lead in a big budget action adventure several years ago. Barlow wrote and developed the story with Viva in mind and so was over the moon and relieved when she agreed to join the project.
Her Story was first conceived from a passion for crime fiction, particularly the intense formal setting of the interview room, the â€œgladiatorial arena of the detective storyâ€. The concept solidified as a reaction to the prevalence of police interview footage in the media and the way in which Youtube culture has opened up this very intimate setting to public scrutiny (giving the gladiators their bloodthirsty audience.)
So whereas the initial concept took the detective's P.O.V. (i.e. a game about proving guilt), as I researched the interview process and built up the story and game structure, my empathy flipped across the table -- the game became about the woman telling her own story. The restrictions placed on the setup (we only hear the woman's answers; we search for clips using the woman's own words) became a way of giving the suspect's voice back to her. The game removes the presence of the detective and gives players no means to comment or condemn -- their job is to listen, explore and understand.
The use of real video footage, the necessity of inferring context and of listening carefully to the words spoken mean this is a rare videogame where subtext matters -- and where listening and empathy become key skills.
IndieCade Festival 2015 - Grand Jury Award