The blinds are drawn. A tiny sliver of light manages to brighten up the room, casting a jagged shadow against the wall that trickles down the length of your bed. A brightly colored poster and several polaroids decorate the walls. A casual guitar riff plays softly in the background, accompanied by the sound of the outside world—traffic and pedestrians. This is the beginning of Hikikimori Simulator (alternatively named Solitude), a “five minute experience” by Alexandre Ignatov. “Hikikimori” is a Japanese term that refers to (usually male) reclusive adults/adolescents who pull away from social interactions. You play as a man who has withdrawn from society.
The environment to explore is limited but there are objects to be picked up, things to be examined, and pieces to be put together that create a larger narrative. Solitude says so much through exploration and observation. For example, there are a lot of light sources in the room you are confined to—string lights frame the space above your bed, with a table lamp nearby a ceiling light cast over it all. You can go around flipping switches to help brighten up the room, which gives the illusion of happiness. However, going through your things gives off an entirely different feeling.
A small plant sits on the windowsill, the only other sign of life in the space. Several books adorn the shelf above your desk, along with dirty dishes and leftover food that hasn’t been touched. Emails on your laptop reveal a date gone sour and hurtful words taking jabs at your hermit status. Diary entries go through your inner monologue, which echoes the thoughts of a lonely introvert. Without spoiling what happens after you decide to leave your room, Solitude succeeds in capturing the anxiety and the self deprecation that comes from isolation.
Play Solitude for yourself here.