We Are Chicago is a first person narrative-driven adventure game that strives to portray the harsh realities of growing up on the south side of Chicago.
You are thrown into the life of Aaron in the week leading up to his high school graduation when your best friend Robert suddenly stops showing up to school.
As your world is unraveling around you, it's becoming increasingly difficult to protect your family and loved ones among all the turmoil facing your neighborhood.
You will need to uncover what's going on, who Aaron's real friends are, and who they can trust while relying on the community around them to help. You'll explore Aaron's life and relationships to find out the truth and uncover what really matters.
We Are Chicago is an experiment in how to portray documentary experiences in video games and an effort to increase nuanced representations of people of color in games. We are also pioneering a new way of supporting non-profit organizations through games by providing information about their efforts through environmental storytelling in ways that are consistent with and do not detract from the main narrative.
We crafted a compelling narrative experience by working with a writer and artists from the neighborhoods we are depicting in the game and by conducting interviews to understand the first hand experiences of people living on Chicago’s south and west side. Through iterations with our writer, we have been able to make the situations accessible to everyone regardless of where they live, while holding true to the original experiences.
A crucial goal of the game is to increase empathy towards people living on the south and west side of Chicago and that motivated our design decisions throughout development. In the game, the player maintains an uninterrupted first person view for the entire experience. We did this to encourage the player to see the narrative experience as a complete life story and not vignettes that were chosen to match a message.
By presenting the player with choices about how to respond to the situations presented in the game, we not only provide a space for them to make choices, but we show the choices that people actually living in these situations may be considering. We are also able to show that people respond in different ways which leads to not only increased empathy, but to thinking about the characters and the real people they are based on as nuanced and complex individuals instead of racial stereotypes or as a monolithic whole that always behaves the same way.
Michael Block - Programmer
Cynthia Miller - Designer
Yuri Alexander - Character Modeler
Jon Andersen - Audio Engineer
Ben Crossbones - Audio Engineer
Lucas E. Baker - Character Rigger
Ian Beckman - Character Animator
Erin Fell - Character Animator
Michael Charles Tisdale - Environment Artist
Nick Bouldin - Environment Artist
Justin Mohlman - Environment Artist
Steven Creaney - Musician
Dagger Bros. - UI Design
Tony D. Thornton - Writer
Greg Beckman - Motion Capture
Dana Trebella - PR