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Innovative And Immersive Storytelling With Pixelberry's Choices

Choices is a Pixelberry app that produces interactive visual stories: users play as the main character to make choices that will affect the outcome of the story. This is a fantastic use of technology, employing a new means of engaging audiences, particularly the younger audience this is aimed at. Pixelberry has masterfully blended gaming’s interactive mechanics with entertaining and commercially appealing storytelling.

I came across the Choices app a few years ago: the first story I played was their The Crown and The Flame fantasy series. This was an incredibly enjoyable way to experience many of the genre’s tropes in a new medium. Since then, I have played many of their different series and I have appreciated the progressive storylines explored in each of their books. There is always a choice of both a male or female romantic partner; furthermore, you can choose to entirely ignore the romantic elements of a story and simply enjoy your journey. The game mechanics for all of the stories include being able to choose from a range of skin colours, hair types and other physical attributes. The Freshman series does much to tackle issues surrounding bullying, harassment and sexuality. Lovehacks gives you the option to play as a polyamorous character, whilst in Home for the Holidays your character is an adopted child. Such representation is vitally important, and these stories are a fantastic means of teaching players about these topics in a positive and entertaining manner.

Whilst I firmly believe that the Choices team have done a fantastic job in creating a range of engaging and educational stories, there are elements which could be improved: namely, the presentation of fashion and body. One of the best aspects of playing through a Choices story is the level of escapism it provides. However, the limited wardrobe functionality does hinder this somewhat. Almost all of the outfits are paid-for extras, and many storylines can only be unlocked by acquiring specific outfits. This makes some experiences exclusive to those able to afford this perk and removes the possibility of true escapism for those struggling financially in reality. Additionally, it prevents these players from exploring their identity in a new way. I would have liked Choices to place more emphasis on the positive and liberating aspects of fashion. This app is the perfect platform to provide the player with a safe space in which to experiment and explore different looks, encouraging creativity and self-expression; something which cannot be fully realised as long as this remains a paid-for feature.

Equally, the body types depicted in Choices are rather troubling. Every character you encounter has flawless skin, stereotypically aesthetic features and very skinny bodies. I find it a shame that there is almost no variety presented. Moreover, female characters’ legs and arms are drawn worryingly thin. Whilst I am aware that this is a body type some girls have, my concern lies in the fact that Choices presents this body type as the norm; this can have a hugely negative impact on a young person’s self-perception.

Despite these factors, I firmly believe that Choices is a great app. On the whole, Choices provides engaging gameplay with progressive storylines that educate their young players and provide them with a form of escape and expression. Pixelberry has certainly achieved its mission statement to “entertain and educate players via games”. With new stories constantly being added to the app there is a series for everyone, no matter their preferred genre.

You can download Choices from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

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