Despite its somber title, Everybody’s Sad makes me laugh. It also has something useful to say about life balance and relationships.
It’s a short, free virtual reality game, out now for Vive and Oculus Rift. It’s set in an apartment, where various items, foodstuffs, and furniture express their general malaise with the world. My job is to move around the room, and try to make the talking things feel a bit happier.
An old beer tin begs to be thrown in the trash. A bicep weight wants to work out. A chair really needs to be sat on. A whining vacuum cleaner and toilet plunger are so ridiculous, it’s hard not to be amused. Sometimes, my reward is a nice feeling of having improved their day. The furniture can be pretty grateful, and gratitude is a nice feeling. Other times, these items turn ungrateful, annoying, needy.
It soon becomes clear that my apartment — my life — is becoming one long chore, in which I feel obliged to worry about their feelings, rather than my own.
Everybody’s Sad was created by Puncta, a team of game design, art, and computer science students at the University of California Santa Cruz. The team, which wanted to make a VR game without violence, produced it as a capstone project.
“We wanted our game to comment on the importance of self care, particularly with people-pleasing in mind,” said co-lead designer Aubrey Isaacman. “Many of us know people in our lives who people-please to the point of putting others’ needs before their own. We wanted to create something that could help highlight the importance of finding a balance between taking care of others and taking care of yourself.”