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Packing

Pack your bags and leave. A short game about the exodus of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Role:

Sole Developer

Made for:

Ludum Dare 54: Limited Space

Play here:

In September 2023 (it's always September), Azerbaijan launched yet another full scale military offensive against the indigenous Armenians of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabach). This came at the end of a 10-month blockade where the people of Artsakh were deprived of food, medicine, electricity and fuel.


Starved and destroyed, the Armenians were forced to surrender and the budding democratic state of Artsakh dissolved.


The blockade was finally lifted and movement allowed (under Az military supervision and control) between Artsakh and neighbouring Armenia. However the options for Artsakh's 100,000+ population had been made clear from recent events: stay and risk torture, mutilation, state-sanctioned murder, or abandon everything and flee.


They fled. All 100,000 of them.


This mass exodus was presented by the Az government as a voluntary relocation, akin to an entire population deciding one day to leave on an indefinite vacation.


Other voices, particularly those reporting for Western media outlets, couldn't fathom why so many people would abandon their family homes, their possessions and professions, even the graves of countless generations, and leave it all behind, just as many still cannot fathom what might cause, might force, countless refugees to flee their homes in search of safer land.


This lack of understanding coupled with the misrepresentational propaganda spewing from the victors led me to create a game that would put players in that unimaginable situation and present them with the only options available to them.


Gameplay

You play as an older woman tasked with packing her home into a single bag while bombs falls around her. Navigate the multiple rooms, take what you can or need or want to and leave before the bombs reach you.


Design Decisions

  • It's a simple game with few 'gamey' mechanics to make sure the emotional experience is front and centre.

  • Player movement is slow: many individuals who find themselves in these situations are elderly civilians with limited mobility, unable to move with the urgency the situation might demand. The difficulty lay in balancing player frustration in the slowness of the character with provoking feelings of stress, urgency, and powerlessness.

  • Much of the game was built from real world references to ground the game experience in reality.

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