Resilience Showdown, a board game designed and developed by sisters and Luddy Indianapolis Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) master’s students Nithika and Rithika Elugula, speaks directly to issues plaguing today’s youth.
It is well established that stress can have a negative impact on mental health and emotional resilience. That’s especially true for young adults who are experiencing life on their own, possibly for the first time, and facing many challenges. The National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) in 2020 reported among U.S. young adults (18-25), one in three had experienced a mental illness, defined as a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling, behavior or mood, and includes anxiety, depression, PTSD, among others.
Resilience Showdown is a game for four to eight players that focuses on team building and expressing feelings and involves fun activities. It employs card decks with themes like academic, career, and relationship, and there is even a rewards wheel. The game is both cooperative and collaborative, taking players on life’s journey, and helps them find inner zen and practice mindfulness techniques, while encouraging exchange of information.
Nithika said, “The Resilience Showdown game is tailored specifically for university-level students, with the intent of reshaping the landscape of emotional resilience building and stress reduction. In our quest for originality, we ventured on an exploration that led us through numerous prototypes and concepts. Ultimately, we adopted an inventive approach, merging elements of psychology, game design, and emotional well-being.”
Nithika and Rithika enrolled in Media Arts and Science Associate Professor Joe Defazio’s Serious Games and Simulations course over the summer 2023, which is where they were first inspired. Defazio said, “Serious games are interactive digital or analog games designed for purposes beyond entertainment, such as education, training, healthcare, and simulation. Resilience Showdown, developed by Nithika and Rithka Elugula is an excellent design focusing on player psychology (college students). Research in this area explores the cognitive and emotional aspects of board game players. It includes studies on decision-making, risk assessment, cooperation, competition, and the impact of board games on players’ cognitive skills and social interactions.”
The sisters created game assets in Canva and Figma and then found a publisher to make a prototype they could demonstrate. They said it took about a month to conceptualize and then build their game.
Rithika said, “The process of prototyping our game was an immensely enjoyable journey. Crafting various elements, especially the diverse card decks, became a fascinating challenge. Each deck boasts unique scenarios drawn from our real-life experiences, injecting an authentic touch into the gameplay. The scenarios were meticulously designed to spark thought-provoking conversations among players, creating a platform for them to engage and connect on a deeper level. We derived immense satisfaction from infusing the game with references from our own lives, making it not only entertaining but also relatable.”
“Navigating the diverse aspects of the game proved to be a challenging yet rewarding endeavor,” Nithika said.
The sisters also said they won’t automate Resilience Showdown because part of the issue they are solving for is reducing screen time.
Nithika and Rithika demonstrated the game at the LIL-CON convention in New York in November where it was well received. Their plan is to continue developing and then commercializing their creation. Right after they graduate this month.
Defazio believes that looking into the future, the sisters’ game has the potential for revision and enhance for all ages. Rithika said, “We firmly believe that Resilience Showdown has the potential to be a powerful tool for students, offering them a means to relieve stress while fostering a better understanding of each other. The entire creative process was not just rewarding, but undeniably fun, and we are eager to see how this game resonates with players.” Nithika added, “Our vision extended beyond the university environment, as we aimed to create a game that transcends boundaries, offering an engaging platform for everyone. Our aspiration is to witness individuals from various backgrounds come together, sharing laughter, gaining insights, and evolving through the immersive experience of Resilience Showdown.”