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Heartstring - Eryn Preece (18), Burgess Hill

You are a hat. Go and find your place in the world.

‘Heartstring’ follows the story of a near literal sentient hat- who comes to be known as ‘Ticker’- whose life is spiralled into a sudden existence, upon a suitcase falling open and becoming abandoned by its owner outside of an airport. Determined to discover who they truly are, Ticker goes on a mission to discover where they belong, in the form of the owner of the suitcase- with the help of a young woman living beneath the effects of a spell that has reduced her to an outline of herself- named Ouli. Together, the pair will connect- and come to realise what belonging really means to them, in a journey through a mystical new world… with a touch of magic, of course. 

Through a character, emotion and narrative based, ‘Platformer’ RPG spanning across six defined levels (each devoted to a different season: beginning with winter, and ending one year later as the season draws around once more)- Ticker must wrangle with a growing unknown of magical power threatens to place the world around them at risk…and sense of longing to belong from within their heart that is always changing volume. 

My target audience would mainly be anyone aged twelve and up- as whilst the construction of the narrative is free of any violence or potentially fearful imagery, it does focus on a range of serious topics through the experiences of characters within (such as mental health.) Mental health in particular serves as a core focus of the game- through both the uncovered experiences of NPC’s, and the experiences of the deuteragonists of ‘Heartstring’- in central character Ouli eventually coming to open up about her struggles with anxiety and depression (these initially conveyed metaphorically through Ouli’s appearance as an ‘outline’ of herself: reflecting the feelings she is struggling with on the inside.) The messaging surrounding mental health focuses on Ouli’s eventual realisation that she is no less of herself for struggling; that she is enough and always has been- as a way of affirming with an audience the fact that they are always valuable and deserving of care, no matter what happens.