This game was created as a reflection of my own viewpoints on balance with video games and other important aspects of life.IRL is a 2D top down perspective game where players control a person living in their apartment.

Scope: 2 Areas of play
Team Size: Sole creator
Development Time: 3 weeks
Engine Used: Game Maker


development process: the personalization of this game

The message I want to pass on is that proper balance is the key to enjoying both a proactive lifestyle and the positive emotions from gaming. IRL is a 2D top down perspective game where players control a person living in their apartment. Accompanying the player character in the apartment is a dog, which needs to eat to survive. When the game starts the GUI displays a timer, the dog’s happiness, and how much money the player currently has. The player can interact with the following elements in the apartment: the computer, the work bench, the dog bowl and the ball. Interacting with the computer will take the player to a virtual game world where the player can slay enemies and gain points. The work bench generates money for the player to spend on both the virtual game and on the dog. Interacting with the dog bowl will feed the dog and fill up the dog’s happiness meter.

The goal of the game is to get as many points as possible. The only way to get points is in the virtual world. However, everything runs on a timer and money is required to feed the dog and play the mini-game. If the player neglects to take care of the dog, then it will run away and if the player keeps the dog around the score at the end of the game is tripled.

The crucial components of the game are the money and time variables. Similar to reality, money is a variable that is necessary for daily life. Money is displayed continuously throughout both the virtual game world and the real world. While the player is playing the virtual game, money is steadily decreasing by increments of one. This is built to reference the monthly fee that is tied behind online games, but it shows that gaming itself is an activity that cost money. The player must also spend money to feed the dog. Once the player runs out of money, they must work at their work station to generate more money. This mechanic is the most tedious part of the game, where players steadily press the interaction button quickly to gain money. This tasks takes time to accomplish, but it delivers precious revenue to generate points and take care of the dog.

I wanted to illustrate that sometimes work can detract from other tasks that people generally would like to do instead. To increase pressure, the game is running on a timer. Therefore, the player needs to come to an understanding of how these elements work and their importance of balancing time and actions.


So far the general feedback from the game has been positive. It only takes roughly 1 minute for players to understand the concept behind balancing their actions and money. Which is good in terms of understanding, but also bad because the game currently only runs for roughly 3 minutes. Moving forward I believe the time should potentially be extended to 5-6 minutes so that players don’t spend 1/3 of their time learning the game mechanics. Very little players actually let the dog run away. I was assuming the aesthetic of a happy little dog would be hard to neglect, and it worked out very well. This was very positive for me, because the intended message was focused on proactively balancing time and responsibilities rather than ignoring mundane tasks.