“The Space in Between” by Sondering Studios (Emily Pitcher, Elizabeth Han, Julia Lee, Wei, Alan Guan, Richard Cheng, Hayden Nuyens & Ray Hsiao).
“[This game is] an emotional dating [simulation] about Asian-American identity, mental health, and stargazing. […] Set on a scenic stargazing trip, create your stories among the stars as you hear powerful narratives from the hidden ways Asian parents say “I love you” to the social isolation of depression.”
“The Space in Between” is an interactive novel where every now and then you get to intervene in the events of a quite wonderful date. June and her boyfriend Miles have gone out of town to look at the stars together under the night sky. Shortly after the two have made themselves comfortable on the grassy ground, Miles tells how he used to make up his own constellations as a child. That evening, the couple will repeat that, sharing their own backstories with each other, whenever they fit the aforementioned constellation.
What unites both of them is that they feel perceived as outsiders in society. As an Asian-American, June often felt as a young girl that her predominantly white environment never quite saw her as one of their own. For example, she tells Miles about snide remarks she made about the lunch she brought to school, as well as failed attempts to make each other up at a sleepover party. Such incidents, which are often dismissed by whites as trivialities, were a constant companion for June in her youth and thus also determined her self-image. During the conversation, it becomes clear that there were times when she struggled with her own cultural identity because of such events.
At the same time, June also recounts some fascinating idiosyncrasies of her growing up: the specific questions asked by family about love life and future plans, the extent to which a plate of fresh apple pieces equates to a gentle goodnight kiss from parents, and the role stolen fruit plays in their communities. These things, however, are not ones that only their parents do – they are said to be a general part of Asian-American culture in varying degrees.
Miles’ own insecurities and difficulties with life also become clear. He has taken a semester off from his studies because of his depression, but the actual pain has been plaguing him for some time. Even though his mental health is slowly showing improvements, he often still thinks about the bad times and the consequences. For example, he is plagued by the thought that he simply broke off contact with his friends back then because he could no longer cope with the overall situation. He would like to restore contact, but he is not quite sure how. The stigma of mental illness does not let him go either.
With its two main characters, “The Space in Between” tells the love story of two young people whose outstanding emotional openness gives their partner a window into the most fragile parts of their personalities. They show each other their weak points and in which areas they feel vulnerable, simply because they trust and love each other in such a pure way. What’s left in the end is a smile and the impression that the world would be an even better place with more people like June and Miles. [PLAY]