Author Topic: As someone with Asperger's... (spoilers, obviously)  (Read 10105 times)

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cookiemobsta

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As someone with Asperger's... (spoilers, obviously)
« on: September 07, 2012, 11:25:43 PM »
This game made me cry so much.

River is a sympathetic, beautiful and realistic portrayal of someone with Asperger's. She wasn't defined by her condition, but her condition was a big part of her story, just like it is a part of mine.

And as someone with Asperger's, seeing a life and love story of someone with Asperger's played out in pixel form was so incredible. I'm so grateful for this game.

When (hopefully not if) I next date, I'm going to ask her to play this game. It's such a gift to be able to say "Play this---then come back and you'll understand me better."

I also have to say that during the conversation in the bookstore (when Johnny's friend's wife talks about being an actress all the time) I started sobbing hard. I've learned a ton about social skills (even wrote a website--www.Improveyoursocialskills.com) but it's still not totally natural for me.

I feel like the wizard of Oz--pulling levers and turning nobs to make social magic happen, but at the end of the day I'm still a guy behind the curtain. And spending so much time pulling levers and making magic means it's really easy to lose touch with that man behind the curtain, and it can be really hard for other people to really get to know him.

Anyway. I don't know why I'm rambling on a forum about my feelings. Just the emotional aftereffect of the game, I guess. But I wanted to say thank you to the designers of this game, and thanks to all of you that played it and understand folks with Asperger's a bit better now :)


Merlandese

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Re: As someone with Asperger's... (spoilers, obviously)
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2012, 11:29:12 PM »
Thank you very much for sharing. We really appreciate hearing these personal comments.

I think Isabella's scene where she described her need to hide was particularly touching as well. Even though she doesn't have much exposure in Johnny's memories, I really felt that she was a complex, important person.

Hope you stick around and enjoy our nonsensical banter from time to time. :)

Tumbles

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Re: As someone with Asperger's... (spoilers, obviously)
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2012, 12:07:31 AM »
I feel like the wizard of Oz--pulling levers and turning nobs to make social magic happen, but at the end of the day I'm still a guy behind the curtain. And spending so much time pulling levers and making magic means it's really easy to lose touch with that man behind the curtain, and it can be really hard for other people to really get to know him.

Wow, well said. :vikonsmile:

While I don't have the condition, I certainly can empathise. Thanks for sharing! We definitely don't mind emotional ramblings here. :)

Spoiler: show


                                         

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Ruben

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Re: As someone with Asperger's... (spoilers, obviously)
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2012, 05:47:16 AM »
Hey Dan, thanks fpr sharing this story! I checked out your website – looks pretty good (and the design looks pretty professional). Glad you thought River was displayed in a realistic way – it is hard to judge this from an outsider perspective for me, but I thought so, too.

Anyway, I hope the game will help you in one way or another, that would be great. Oh, and you can stay here as long as you want and post whenever you want wherever you want. :)

Wyndfal

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Re: As someone with Asperger's... (spoilers, obviously)
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2012, 12:48:59 PM »
Hey now! Such emotional remarks are more constructive than you think. Thanks for sharing them with us  :)

Just Lance

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Re: As someone with Asperger's... (spoilers, obviously)
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2012, 04:32:27 PM »
With this kind of feedback I can finally lay those tiny... Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey... stuff that bothered me. Thanks a lot for sharing of you insight. Hope you hang around. ^^
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cookiemobsta

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Re: As someone with Asperger's... (spoilers, obviously)
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2012, 02:52:16 PM »
Thanks guys! I really appreciate all of the support and encouragement :) I think one of the cool things about this game is how (although it affects people differently), it affects all of us. So by sharing our stories of how the game affected us, we get to see a different side of the game. I've already started a few of my friends playing it--I will be excited to hear their thoughts on it when they finish (and maybe they will come join the forum too!)

Just Lance

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Re: As someone with Asperger's... (spoilers, obviously)
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2012, 03:03:58 PM »
^The more the merrier. ^^
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Raxus

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Re: As someone with Asperger's... (spoilers, obviously)
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2012, 12:19:25 AM »
Very beautiful. :) I'm really glad that Reives was true to the portrayal of River's condition. enough that it had a deeper meaning to those who have it. <3

Fran

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Re: As someone with Asperger's... (spoilers, obviously)
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2012, 12:35:19 AM »
This reminds me of a huge tumblr post I made a few days ago. I have PDDNOS, so just another form of autism. Like you said, this game was so personal to me and hit me so hard. Below is the post I made.

To The Moon
So…I finished To The Moon today…FEELINGS.

SO. MANY.FEELINGS.

I never cried so much before because of a video game. It’s just that beautiful.

River. Oh dear god, River. Just thinking of her makes me want to cry. She is me and I am her. It hurts so much. Being diagnosed with autism at a late age myself, I know her pain. For the longest time I was just the weird, intelligent  aloof girl. Not even my parents knew quite what to do with me. I spent my childhood learning. I read dictionaries and medical journals for fun. I studied languages and had more fun having philosophical discussions with adults then playing with other children. All my life I was ‘different’.

The discussion with John and Isabelle hit me so hard. I started sobbing when I read it.

Isabelle: Just because we have the same syndrome John, doesn’t mean we have the same head.

John: But you must be able to help somehow. Everything was okay at first, but now she is even more aloof than before. Even when we are in the same room she never really…there. It’s starting to take a toll on me. I don’t know how to take it anymore.

Isabelle: Well, I can’t speak for her, but many of us do long for connections. Though…being able to articulate it is a different story. Just because she struggles to express it, doesn’t mean she doesn’t feel anything. She is there, right? Sometimes you just to have faith that she cares.

John: That is pretty hard to do day in and day out.

Isabelle: I know.

Nicolas: Wait, how do you seem so normal Issy? I mean, don’t you have the same condition?

Isabelle: For one, I was diagnosed when I was still young.  With effort, it is possible to aquire a guise of social norms systematically. But you know what? I both envy and pity River. Me..? I’m an actress because I’ve been doing it all my life. Not only onstage, but offstage…and at practically every moment. I’ve gotten good at it because acting is the only option I have. It is the only way for me to be ‘normal’. But River…she never did that. She remained an outcast and refused to learn how to step against it. I don’t know if it was by choice or limit, whether by bravery or cowardice  There are days where I just can’t stand faking it anymore. And then I realise that it’s to late. The Isabelle that people know of is all an act and the real me as long become a stranger. I think in the end…I just envy her.

[Dialogue taken from To The Moon]

This brings up so many points I have been feeling all my life. One. I’ve been scared of getting married because I know I’m different. I know I have horrible communication skills and that is a basis for good marriage. I’m horrible with kids and and I shut down easily. I’m so scared that I will wear my husband out. That he won’t have any idea what to do with me and want to leave. That he would think I don’t love him simply because I don’t show affection like others do or because I’m not as emotionally in-tuned with everyone else. I’m so scared that he would start to think of me as rude, uninterested and unemotional  It’s not that…it’s just…I don’t know how to communicate my feelings and wants. I don’t what what the proper thing to say is at any emotional breakdown. There are many times I state things as simple facts without realising their emotional implications. I just feel like I would be so inadequate as a wife and mother. I just know I would do something wrong and nobody would know how to deal with me. I would be so lost and frustrated…it scares me.

Secondly, like River I was diagnosed at a older age. However, like Issy, I am an actress. My parents didn’t know of autism and therefore all my ‘quirks’ were simply that. I was constantly told to “be still” and “talk normally”. “Use your words” was something I heard multipul times a day. Slowly I learned how to act socially aceptable. However, by doing so, I began loosing part of myself. I could no longer communicate by stimming. I would hesitate in speech in order to speak properly and with language of any other person my age. I never could quite fit in, but I did better than others. However, it has done nothing but hurt me. Now when I tell people that I am autistic they say that I’m “too high functioning”. That I “dont act autistic enough” and “I speak well so I shouldn’t have any problems.” Right…what about learning to bullshit your way through conversations? Is it that hard to believe that someone has learned to nod their head at the right times and inside have no idea what is going on? So many times I have no idea how I should react to something. I guess and hope for the best. So many times I get scared because I don’t know if someone is using sarcasm or joking with me. I freeze and hope that it would all blow over. I may laugh, but inside I’m shaking because I have no idea what just happened.

“And?” “What else?” These are the questions River constantly asks John while making origami rabbits. Why? to jog his memory of a past event that he has forgotten. I’ve played this game too many times to count. Straight up conversation is just to difficult  It’s so much easier to give clues and hope they figure it out. If not, you get more and more desperate for them to find the answer. It’s so sad to see that River died without being able to revive John’s memories. I just hope…nothing like that would ever happen to me.

Wow, I’m so sorry for the long rant. This has just been circling around my head ever since I found out River had autism. It just reminded me of myself so well. It’s because of this that To the Moon has such a special place in my heart. Everyone should play this game. It is so beautiful, sad, and heartwarming. At the same time, it has some great humour that can break the serious mood. Check it out, I swear you won’t regret it.

Sanicgottafeelfast

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Re: As someone with Asperger's... (spoilers, obviously)
« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2012, 12:04:53 PM »
That was beautiful fran it's heartwarming to see so many people have high regard for this game among the gaming and autistic community. Kan certainly created a game that appeals to many as well as a minority who suffer from autism and for that I guess were all very thankful.
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Justice

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Re: As someone with Asperger's... (spoilers, obviously)
« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2012, 03:08:41 PM »
I agree I thought that the game was very well done.  I also have Aspergers, although I'm on the milder end of the spectrum, and thought that it's representation within the game was by and large pretty accurate.  You can tell that Kan did his research, I wouldn't be surprised if he had some personal experience with it as well.  Plus, I was able to relate that much more with the game and the characters in it.  There were even a few scenes with River where I thought "Hey!  I've done that before..." lol.

And like the above poster mentioned, that dialog with Isabella I felt was extremely accurate to how many people with Aspergers feel, almost to the letter!   

One thing that this game made me realize as well is just how little emotional content is present in the gaming industry.  You seldom ever really feel a connection with any of the characters, you just kind of run around blowing things up or trying to make the #1 score lol.  I think that this game really shows that games can be just as powerful a medium for storytelling as film or books, if done in the proper fashion.

Weltall Zero

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Re: As someone with Asperger's... (spoilers, obviously)
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2012, 11:18:22 AM »
Thanks a lot for all of you, for contributing such interesting and unique points of view on the game. You might think of them as rants, but believe me, for me (and many more, I'm guessing) these impressions mean a very valuable chance to see the game from the eyes of someone who is even closer to River's heart than us.

I personally don't have Aspergers, but I absolutely loved River. In an odd sense of projection, I couldn't avoid feeling like John; it was her uniqueness, her innocence, her blunt directness and sincerity, her unwavering resolution that made her so special, and yet one can't avoid feeling guilty admiring or loving a character, in part, for something that it's not only not a choice for people having it, but in fact they'd much rather not have. It's not, of course, the only reason (or even probably the main reason) that makes her as interesting as a character, but it's a part of it.

The Wikipedia page originally stated that River started behaving obsessively due to her being unable to cope with this confession from John, i.e. that he sought her because of her "difference". I believe anyone paying a modicum of attention to the story would realize that she was trying to make him remember their actual first encounter, so I changed that paragraph, but I wonder to what extend a person in her situation would find such a confession heartbreaking or offensive.

cookiemobsta

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Re: As someone with Asperger's... (spoilers, obviously)
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2012, 10:20:06 PM »
I'm blown away to read all of the responses that everyone else has had. I was worried when writing my feelings that it would be too emotional or rambly, but I think the fact is that To The Moon inspired some very real emotions in me, and it inspired very real emotions in a lot of other people too. So it's been really cool to hear all of your stories :)

A few specific responses I wanted to make:

Weltall, I don't think there is anything wrong for admiring the parts of River that came from her Asperger's. I think it's important to realize that Asperger's is not something that is good or bad -- it's something that simply IS. It's a part of what makes someone unique, just like someone's smile or laugh or love of Italian food. And I think that celebrating and cherishing ALL of who people are -- including the parts of us that come from Asperger's or other conditions -- is a very positive thing. So I'm glad that you like River :)

Justice, I agree that this game had an incredible emotional connection. I have the To The Moon soundtrack on my iPod, and there are times when I'll be playing it and get emotional, just remembering. It's powerful stuff.

Fran: First, thank you so much for typing up the discussion between Isabelle and John. That exchange made me CRY SO MUCH because it hit the nail on the HEAD for me. I've gone the route of Isabelle--learning how to play the social game. But that makes it hard to be vulnerable and awkward, and let people near the real me. So thank you for taking the time to type it up - having the transcript is a gift to me :)

I also wanted to let you know that although it's totally natural to be afraid of marriage, I want to encourage you not to be afraid :) The right guy for you will love you for ALL that you are -- Asperger's awkwardness included. Good communication in a marriage is essential, but good communication is something that you and your spouse will work out together. If you love each other, you will figure out a system of communication that works for both of you. So don't be afraid. There are challenges to an Asperger's marriage, but the right guy will be so excited to be with you that the challenges will seem like a small thing.

twistingaether

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Re: As someone with Asperger's... (spoilers, obviously)
« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2019, 11:15:47 PM »
This post is quite old but I just wanted to express I have had a similar experience with To The Moon.  I have ASD (mild) and there were so many parts of the character of River that resonated with me and it came across as a very realistic and compassionate portrayal of a person with ASD.

Thank you very much to those who contributed to this discussion several years ago, and to Freebird for making this game.  I plan to replay it soon :)