Recently we had an opportunity to speak with Kevyn Eva Norton, the Player Research at Digging Deep about Shadow’s Edge
Please share with us the backstory of what motivated you to create this app.
Chronic and serious illness is on the rise and more teenagers are dealing with serious health situations. While treatment options for physical conditions are advancing rapidly, there are many times when the teens are left alone to deal with the emotional aspects of their illness. It is not easy for teens to talk about the dark and scary side of illness, many don’t have the words to express themselves, or even know how to start. What’s missing is a simple tool that guides young patients through their emotional journey. The project’s founder Sheri Sobrato Brisson has been committed to supporting the emotional needs of children with health challenges and their families for over 25 years. She is a long-term brain cancer survivor and co-author of Digging Deep: A Journal for Young People Facing Health Challenges (Offner, Brisson: Resonance House, 2014). Sheri holds a Master’s in Counseling and Health Psychology.
What features do you hope to roll out to your app in the future?
We are currently working on additional rewards for writing, art prompts and photo hunts in the game. This update will be released end September 2018. We are also looking for funding for an AR extension (imagine Geocaching + Shadow’s Edge in a hospital setting to get teens connected with each other and out of their hospital rooms) and a VR extension (imagine a VR viewer to allow your friends and family to enter the world you create with your words and art in Shadow’s Edge).
What has been the most rewarding aspect of the creation of this app?
Definitely working with teens who are dealing with or have dealt with serious illness. We engaged with 200 teens from the vision and throughout the development of the game. We collected and ran design ideas by them, asked them to express their preferences around decisions for the backstory and the visuals of the game, and had them playtest to ensure the usability and enjoyment of the game.
What is the coolest or most innovative feature of your app?
The journaling prompts that are based on real-life situations when facing a serious illness. Also the levels of the game and the visual identity of these that reflect different stages of going through a serious illness. There are wisdom pigeons you can discover and that provide the player insight into psychological mechanisms and creativity that are useful to know about.
What surprised you most in your journey to create this app?
The creativity and wisdom of the teens and their willingness to support the project, share their stories and put in time – not just as something cool to do but as a means to support others who are going through similar things as themselves. Then also the empathy of our development team in the Netherlands and how they turned that into creative output.
Which other mobile apps or technology have inspired you?
Life is strange, Ori and the Blind Forest
Do you have any recommendations or advice for others wanting to create a mobile app?
Involve your players from the start of the creation and continuously test with them. Always keep the “why” you are creating the game in focus and take your design decisions based on that. Asking the right questions with the writing prompts was our key focus, as well as making the task of going into difficult emotions easier by creating a cool, beautiful and hopeful game.
How did you decide which platforms to release your app on and do you plan on releasing your app to other platforms?
We went for a mobile game since teens spend a lot of time on their mobile phones. We just went to the two most widely available mobile platforms. We are currently not planning to release on PC or consoles.
How is your app different than the rest of the market? Which unique need does it fill?
We envision a world where every young person has real-time access to the tools they need to build emotional resilience and embrace their realities when they dare to dig deep. Our vision is to provide these tools for free to teens all over the world and on their medium of choice – the mobile phone. While there are journaling apps on the market, only Shadow’s Edge addresses the specific need of teens facing a serious illness. So – with the help of teens – we wanted to create a beautiful and captivating mobile game to support them.