Ever asked yourself what you would do if you became homeless?
The economic situation in the UK in 2019 is bleak for most. According to figures from the Department for Work and Pensions for 2017-2018, the number of pensioners and children living in ‘absolute poverty’ in the UK increased again. The number of children living in absolute poverty in the UK hit 3.7 million after increases of 200,000 in just one year.
If things are getting that bad for the weakest in society, the ones we are supposed to be protecting, what does that mean for everyone else? Statistics published by the government in 2018 revealed that an rough sleeper numbers were rising at roughly 15% per year. As of 2017, rough sleeper numbers had risen 169% since 2010. 169%!
All this means that the ‘average’ person’s chances of having the misfortune of finding themselves homeless is rising all the time, especially since the number of workers entering poverty is rising higher than employment.
When the three man development team of ‘Delve Interactive’ released their debut title ‘Poncho’ in 2015 the game flopped. Things quickly spiralled for studio co-founder Danny Hayes. He lost his home, sank into thousands of pounds of debt and suffered a series of mental breakdowns. “I was close to homelessness and it was only when I was in that situation that I understood how easy it is to slip into homelessness because it was only friends and family rallying around me that prevented that from happening.”
This experience, however, spawned an idea for a thought provoking new project. The Delve team had to go back to day jobs and work on their new game in their spare time to reduce their exposure to the financial risks of making your own game.
‘CHANGE: A Homeless Survival Experience’ has now been released to Steam. It’s a gloomy, moody, 2D pixel art world in which you play out a homeless sim with rogue like elements. The player is dumped onto the street with no home, no job and no prospects and asked the question ‘what do you do now?’ To play this homeless simulator, you must manage your character’s happiness, hygiene and hunger levels whilst trying to squeeze resources from the unforgiving streets with the aim of renting a flat and getting a job. You can even apply to sell copies of a homeless newspaper called ‘The Daily Issue’ to try and get by.
“I have always been interested in making games with a political or social focus… I also want to treat homelessness with respect because some times when a game tries to tackle a serious subject they can come across as comedic… we wanted to explore the isolation that comes from being in that situation.”
“We’ve done a ton of research into living on the streets. Everything in the game is reflection of that, we don’t pull any punches with the seriousness and the emotional aspects of homelessness and we don’t use any stereotypes of the matter. But at the same time this is a game that will leave it’s mark on players who delve into it and they will find it to be a gem that they will remember. It’s all about allowing players to answer the question: “If you became homeless… what would you do?”.”
You can grab ‘CHANGE: A Homeless Survival Experience’ right now on Steam Early Access. It only costs £7.19 and 20% of Delve Interactive’s profits from the game are being donated to charities focussed on homelessness.