Hey Blerdy Tribe!! It’s Monday once again and I want to kick off the week with some melanin friendly games! If this is your first time here at Blerdy Otome, welcome!
Every Monday I spotlight video games that focus on stories surrounding more diverse casts of characters—for folks like me looking for a bit more representation in their games. Video games are for everyone, so shouldn’t their stories and characters be just as diverse as the people that play them? So I created this series to celebrate games that strive to tell much more diverse stories centering on Black and Brown individuals. But, I welcome all diversity and the series has expanded to include games featuring LGBTQIA rep and characters from other underrepresented groups.
So, if you’re interested in seeing previous melanin friendly games posts, click HERE. This week, I’m spotlighting the emotional visual novel, The Space in Between, from Sondering Studios.
The Space in Between is an emotional dating sim about Asian-American identity, mental health, and family. It is a coming-of-age visual novel that tells the story of June, an outgoing college student wrestling with her complicated relationship with her immigrant mother, and her boyfriend Miles, who is healing after a period of severe mental illness. As for what makes our game special, we merge representation with authentic storytelling. Our game is a vignette into modern relationships, a story that will leave you calling your close ones to tell them you love them.
Miles: Do you know any constellations?
June: No, I don’t.
Miles: I always thought they were boring, so I made up my own.
-The Space in Between | Game Synopsis
As a Black American, the Asian-American experience is not something I have first hand knowledge of—I’ve seen it depicted in media sure, but that only gets you so far. But, what makes The Space in Between such an authentic experience is the fact that it’s characters and the stories explored in the game where born out of the experiences of its lead writer. I have said this before, and it’s worth repeating—I am a strong proponent of creators of color telling their own stories, because there are just some things that can only truly be told by someone who has experienced them first hand…a nuance that is born out of one’s identity that isn’t easily replicated by someone removed from that identity. And that is what made this game for me, because you get the sense that the characters and the story itself comes from a very real place.
The Space in Between is an emotional story that explores Asian American identity and mental health through the eyes of two characters: June and Miles. June is a spunky Chinese-American college student trying to make sense of her complicated relationship with her immigrant mother, and Miles is a quiet artist who is recovering after a harsh past with mental illness. Their story unfolds through a series of disconnected vignettes, each of which gives players an intimate look at their lives, their relationship, and their outlook on the future. Set against the backdrop of a scenic stargazing trip, most of the gameplay consists of connecting stars in the night sky to create their own unique constellations. In turn the constellations you create trigger a specific memory/story that relates directly to either June or Miles. And it is through these stories that we truly get to know the main characters. You do make choices throughout the game that help guide the story, but their aren’t any inherently “right” or “wrong” options, rather your decisions color the tone of the conversations between June and Miles.
This game does not hold back it’s punches; the casual tone of the conversations between June and Miles masks an emotional depth that may hit a bit too close to home for some players. I was particularly impressed with the way the writers captured how isolating depression can be, with Miles detailing how disconnected he felt from friends and family. While June’s dialogue focuses on the emotional side of growing up in an Asian household, from her tumultuous relationship with her mother to how her Asian identity was perceived by her American peers. The story can get pretty heavy at times, but I like that the writers include more positive stories and experiences, especially when they revolve around June and Miles’s relationship. There was an especially cute story where Miles reminisces about the sunrise they shared together during their second date. Each story hits you right in the feels and some will even cause you to think back on similar moments from your own life.
The Space in Between uses more of a stream of consciousness narrative style that gives players more control over how their playthrough unfolds, but regardless of how you choose to enjoy the story, you’re sure to have a one of a kind experience. With it’s soft music, emotional storytelling, and gorgeous art; The Space in Between is a must play experience.
Thank you for reading and supporting Blerdy Otome! Have you played The Space in Between? Share your thoughts! Got a Melanin Friendly Game you think I should spotlight? Send it to me!
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