November 30, 2020

Webster student creates board game to highlight the realities of abuse

Junior Ashleigh Schrum has created a board game called “Those Beasts Out There” to highlight the different types of abuse individuals face. 

“Those Beasts Out There” highlights the different types of abuse in a strategic game of escape. Ashleigh Schrum, a junior at Webster University, created the board game to raise awareness of sexual abuse, emotional abuse and physical abuse. It takes place in a troubled youth boot camp industry, where one of five characters must escape first.

Players must keep their mental health, measured by a scale, high enough to escape. They also have to decide whether to play passively or rebelliously. Playing passively offers less risks and rewards, while playing rebelliously carries more risks and more rewards.

Each character—Soren, Stormy, Bear, Autumn and Rose—has a card detailing their backstory. Soren struggled with anxiety and depression. Stormy, stressed by her sick brother, started taking drugs. Bear hurt his school performance by hanging out with the wrong crowd. Autumn’s parents could not accept her sexuality. The last character, Rose, skipped school too much.

Before Schrum made the game, she read articles about abuse between staff members and teenagers in troubled youth boot camp industries. The articles also mentioned abuse between teenagers themselves. She felt like she was the only one learning anything and talking about it.

“I wanted to spread awareness of it to other people,” Schrum said.

She first started to make the game in a traditional game design class. Her professor and her classmates helped. Schrum’s professor taught her about board game design, while her classmates tested the game and offered feedback.

Schrum said she did most of the work herself since then. She left the game’s art in the hands of a Tumblr artist she found online.

While creating the game, Schrum struggled with design. She had to consider the layout of the board as well as the design of the cards. She mentioned having to type out cards and then remake them, since not all would turn out the same.

Schrum said feedback could challenge her as well. Despite the thoughts, opinions and advice from others, she had to make the final decision.

It still excited Schrum to see her creation become something physical others could interact with and enjoy. Schrum said she enjoyed playing board games as well. She often visited Pieces: a board game bar and restaurant.

“I would be really excited if I saw my game on the shelf with other games in a place like that,” Schrum said.

 

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