Video games have a unique ability to convey the experience of being human.
Autism, and the set of experiences that come with being on the spectrum, is largely underrepresented in the game industry today. Many people are raised playing these video games, but few such games have characters or stories that speak to the challenges, strengths, and experiences that they face day to day.
At Social Cipher, we’re driven to respond to this absence; to give kids a way to feel seen, for their experiences to be heard, and, ultimately, to feel confident in their own stories.
As a young girl with autism living in the far reaches of space, adventure is inevitable when Ava must leave the safety of her home planet in search of her missing brother. On her journey, she becomes unlikely allies with Redbraid, a pirate captain attempting to make amends with her scattered crew.
In this 2D platformer, Ava uses her pirate grappling hook to swing past obstacles, discover worlds of treasure, and uncover a growing threat against the pirates of the universe.
Join Ava as she builds relationships with a rich crew of colorful pirates struggling to get along in RPG-style dialogue segments. These segments give the player the ability to shape Ava’s conversations as she works to empathize and communicate with a range of unique characters—a weary cook that relies heavily on sarcasm, for example, or the ship botanist who just can’t stop talking about plants.
By placing dynamic gameplay and narrative at the forefront, our goal is that a wide audience is able to engage with our game. With a Celeste-like assist mode, we aim to make the game accessible to players who may be newer to gaming, while more experienced platformers can choose to enjoy challenging gameplay. Our game also incorporates dyslexic-friendly fonts and is playable using a keyboard and mouse, or controller.
Inspirations for our game include titles such as Hollow Knight and Celeste, which engage players with their tight controls and thoughtful level design. We’ve also taken inspiration from narrative-heavy games such as Mass Effect, which allow players to build meaningful relationships with the characters they encounter by allowing for different dialogue choices.
With an emphasis on dynamic platforming and meaningful narrative, our game shows the journey of a girl discovering her own strengths, weaknesses, and confidence in herself.
Help us tell Ava's story.
Ava is brought to you by Social Cipher, a social enterprise led by a team of gamers and neuroscience geeks. Motivated by personal experience, we believe in neurodiverse inclusion through representation and empowerment. Vanessa, our pirate captain and CEO, was diagnosed with Asperger’s at age fourteen, and she and her mother worked for years, using music, movies, and games, to create her own understanding of social skills. Rallying around her story, the rest of our crew includes artists, developers, sound designers, and neuroscience researchers.
Our game is anchored by interviews, user testing, and scientific research. We work closely with the autism community, including parents, kids, therapists, and educators. We also conspire with awesome mentors, including a product executive for Rock Band and Dance Central, a narrative designer at Riot Games, and award-winning social entrepreneurs and business executives.
For those of you who want to show your support and stay up to date on all things Social Cipher. You’ll get access to our email newsletter as well as Kickstarter-exclusive updates!
Simple and straightforward, you get one digital copy of the game, Ava.
Receive a smashing digital soundtrack composed by our sound designer, Sound Civet, as well as a mini-podcast that gives you a behind-the-scenes look into the game’s audio development process. Also includes the game, your name in the credits, and Kickstarter-exclusive access to prototypes released during development.
Get our dazzling digital artbook that includes concept art, game assets, wallpapers, and coloring pages. Our Lead Artist, Lucy, details the artistic process from concept sketches to polished game assets. Then, bring our galactic art to life with hi-res wallpapers and printable coloring pages. Also includes the game, your name in the credits, and Kickstarter-exclusive access to prototypes released during development.
You want ALL the digital treasures! Get the soundtrack (including mini-podcasts about our sound design process) AND artbook (including an insider look into concept sketches, game art, wallpapers, and coloring pages). Also includes the game, your name in the credits, and Kickstarter-exclusive access to prototypes released during development.
Get involved in development by testing experimental builds of the game and joining our exclusive development Discord channel. You’ll be able to discuss and test with other Ava community members and give feedback directly to the devs to help us make the best possible game. You’ll also get special recognition in the credits for helping us build (and break) the game, in addition to all previous rewards. This exclusive reward is limited to 50 backers and is NOT included in any other reward tiers!
Want to see what you would look like if you joined Ava’s crew? Receive a personalized, digital, color drawing of your likeness (or your child’s or friend’s) done by Lucy, our Lead Artist. Also includes all previous rewards (except the Developer Package): the game, soundtrack, artbook, your name in the credits, and Kickstarter-exclusive access to prototypes released during development. Limited to 10 backers!
You and a friend (and parent/guardian if desired) get to spend a day with the Social Cipher team in the Los Angeles area! You’ll get a behind-the-scenes look into how we work… and how we have fun—we’ll take you to an arcade, laser tag, or similar activity of your choice. Also includes 2x all previous rewards (except the Developer Package): custom art, the game, soundtrack, artbook, your name in the credits, and Kickstarter-exclusive access to prototypes released during development. Does not include travel or accommodations.
The final boss of our Kickstarter reward tiers—bring Social Cipher to your school or organization! We'll run a game testing workshop for kids and young adults, and our co-founders can speak to grown-up audiences about topics like neurodiversity, social entrepreneurship, being a woman with autism, or making a game for impact. We’ve done workshops and speaking engagements with the likes of TEDxCrenshaw, Portland Indie Gamers, Pacific Science Center, Social Grace LLC, American Corner/EducationUSA, and more. Your organization's name and logo will also be highlighted as a sponsor in the credits. Includes 25x previous rewards (except the Developer Package and custom art): the game, soundtrack, artbook, and Kickstarter-exclusive access to prototypes released during development.
Use of Funds
We need your help to finish developing the game! Pledging to our Kickstarter allows us to work on the game full-time, hire an animator to bring the rest of characters and worlds to life, and continue testing and interviewing with members of the autism community. ~85% of the funds raised from this Kickstarter will go directly towards development, with the remaining ~10% covering Kickstarter fees and ~5% for marketing and rewards fulfillment.
Risks and challenges
Developing a video game is always ambitious, requiring a longer development timeline and higher financial investment than many other Kickstarter products. Our commitment to social impact only adds complexity, but it also strengthens our motivation, and we believe we’re the right crew backed by the right support network to make this vision a reality.
We’re committed to delivering a quality product within our specified timeline. While game development is always an unwieldy beast and delays are possible, we plan to be as transparent as possible with our development process, releasing experimental builds and prototypes of the game to our backers every few months to increase accountability.
Reaching our fundraising goals through this Kickstarter campaign is a big deal to us, and not just because it’s “all or nothing.” A successful Kickstarter does more than fund us in the immediate future—it also shows the traction that investors want to see so that they can help us stick around and keep making games for years to come.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)