In the real world, we go about our lives as adults — siblings or parents, maybe, and whatever roles we fulfill at our jobs — and then we play games, controlling even more personas. We take them on adventures as we sit alone in our rooms, unwinding from a long day of work.
Most of the time, we make these escapes and assume characters with much more fascinating lives than our own. That’s why developer Ali Sakhapour is making an iOS and Android game called Wake the Dreamer where the miniature people we move about are as flawed or emotionally understimulated as we are — at least when they're awake. When they're asleep, everything changes.
“I was sitting in class, I went to Art Center College of Design, and was kind of looking back on my life,” Sakhapour told GameZone. “It was toward the end of my schooling there, and I was pretty nervous and worried about the possibility of not finding a job after I graduate.
“So I began wondering what it would be like to show some of the fears that students and young adults are facing nowadays. That's why I decided that at the beginning of the game, players' characters would be unhappy with the way their life is going. No job, no girlfriend, and a crappy apartment, with everyone they know telling them that their dreams are just dreams. In a way, I want people to feel empowered by this game, that they can go out and live their lives the way that they envisioned.”
Sakhapour said Wake the Dreamer is different from other mobile games because it’s “about people, for people.” Players deal with real-world issues and difficult choices. The game runs in real time, like a Tamagotchi sim, so players can carry out the daily lives alongside their characters. Players can put them to sleep at night or allow them to nap during the day.
“And instead of the character representing the player, in this game, the character is a two-dimensional being that exists within a world inside of the players’ phones,” he said. “This allows players to be on the outside looking in as the character goes about his life, trying to make a living while exploring the darkest — and sometimes hilarious — depths of a person’s mind.”
In dreams, these characters might travel through outer space or other fantastical realms. Sakhapour mentioned a forest with huts where people dwell, or wastelands home to ancient ruins. They're all freely explorable. Players can customize their characters' armor, weapons, and appearance as they see fit.
But during the waking hours, players will send them to work, help them find an apartment, or set them up for romance. “We really want to try to leave it as open as we possibly can for the players to discover what's going on with their character in these two worlds,” said Sakhapour.
Wake the Dreamer will come to Kickstarter in the next month or so. It may just be the break from reality that you and your second life need.