Kids will play through scenarios that teach lessons about topics like bullying.
“If you can manage your emotions effectively, you can function and deal with a bully more effectively,” Hawkins said “If you are a bully, you are coming from your own wounds. The hope is a bully can examine their own feelings and emotions and become more aware.”
Players will also encounter scenarios where a dog character has to babysit some cats. It’s similar to a classic lesson (known as Stanford’s Zimbardo Prison Test) where some students are prisoners, and some are prison guards. The interaction that happens between them teaches kids something about empathy. If you are mean to the captives, you might find later on that they capture you. How they treat you depends on how you treated them.
The game also introduces Vim characters, which have a kind of spiritual energy. The Vim are in danger, and you have to find a way to protect them. You can’t catch them and own them. But you can befriend them, and they will use their energy on your behalf. If you are nice enough, a Vim will become your constant sidekick. You need to master how to communicate with Vim, and you can train your character to work with one, like a Pokemon trainer.
Once you’ve done some training, you can go off and do missions with your Vim. You make progress if you do things like help a mother get reunited with her baby.
During the game, one character tells you that feelings are like layers, and that if sort through them, you can understand how you feel. That’s another classic SEL lesson. If your character starts feeling a lot of conflict, it will float in the air, in an analogy of how conflict can escalate. You can do things like breathing deep to bring your character back down.
IF … takes place in a town that mixes elements of Pokémon, Animal Crossing, and the Jimmy Stewart film, It’s a Wonderful Life. You’ll have to do things like clean up litter and build a recycling center. Your character is in charge of repairing the town. Hawkins says the game will have a strong story.
“The story is a key element here,” Hawkins said. ” People remember info better if they learned it from a story. Stories have drama and characters. That’s the power of myths, legends, and fairy tales.”