SECOND PUBERTY #3: An Introvert goes to a Party

I’ve now completed the third SECOND PUBERTY game, which I have named “An Introvert goes to a Party”. Once again, you can play it if you’re a Patreon supporter, or watch a 20-second preview for free:

Another bit of good news: SECOND PUBERTY is now being funded in part by the Pixelles Creator Fund! Exciting!

So… parties, remember those? The bigger and louder and more crowded they are, the more I hate them, and the more I complain about how much I hate them. Even when they’re not so big and not so crowded, they still take a lot out of me. So, you’d think that in These Unprecedented Times™ where big crowded parties can no longer happen, I’d be relieved, or at least indifferent. And for a while, I was, don’t get me wrong. But then I started to miss them.

The thing is, I actually like people, even though it’s often hard to be around them for prolonged periods of time. Many people who call themselves introverts seem to be content with not really having a lot of friends, but I love having a broad social circle full of interesting people I have good conversations with on occasion but don’t necessarily feel the need to actively keep up with on a regular basis. And pre-pandemic, I would do most of my in-person socializing at regularly-held events (whether weekly, monthly, or annually) centred around a particular shared interest or activity, and then collapse at home afterwards and become a hermit for however long it took me to have energy again. This has been one of the hardest things for me to lose as many public health guidelines have instructed us to keep our social contacts confined to those with whom we share a household. At this point in time, my household consists of just myself and my cat, as that’s all I can realistically handle on a day-to-day basis.

In retrospect, I have always had to balance my fascination with other people against my particular combination of sensory sensitivities and general social cluelessness that has since been confirmed to qualify me for an autism diagnosis. I was very young when I first started to notice that most other kids found me weird and annoying, so I learned instead how to be quiet and unobtrusive. Eventually, keeping a low enough profile allowed me access into social spaces where I could act as an invisible “fly on the wall” of sorts: I would spend a lot of time observing and trying to make sense of the chaotic and overwhelming noise of other people socializing, in an attempt to understand how to do it myself, all the while fighting off a gradually increasing awful feeling of sensory overload that I could eventually learn to tolerate for longer periods of time but never completely eradicate. Eventually, I would get better at having actual conversations in such circumstances, but never with the same amount of ease as someone more neurotypical.

“An Introvert goes to a Party” is a game about how it often feels for me to enter an unfamiliar place full of unfamiliar people. There are no real goals or objectives so much as a space you get thrown in, packed with characters who all look like the same 6 archetypes and sound like they’re just saying the word “watermelon” over and over. You can try to make sense of their conversations, you can wander off to the bathroom for some peace and quiet, or you can leave without saying goodbye… or even hello, for that matter. Just like in real life, I hate it but I also love it, and I hope you all feel similarly.