Revealed during the recent Wholesome Games Direct livestream, A Walk With Yiayia is a slow-paced "light adventure game/visual novel" in which you'll help your grandmother regain her confidence by taking her on a stroll around the neighborhood after she's had a scary fall.
The game is set in a beautiful, greyscale world filled with exploration opportunities and "microquests." It's designed to be slow paced and relaxing, with no stress or fail states: It's all about making a connection and discovering the importance of sharing experiences.
Developer Trent Garlipp said he was inspired to make the game after his grandfather died and his grandmother moved into his parents' house. Some time later, she had a bad fall, and had to be hospitalized and go through rehab before she could return home.
"She was absolutely demoralized," Garlipp explained. "So over time my family would all try to do things to inspire her and get her more comfortable and confident again. It's the kind of story I hadn't seen often told in media and it was an interesting experience that I wanted to say something about."
Garlipp hopes that A Walk With Yiayia will encourage players to think about "tough topics" including the state of senior care in the US and the isolation and challenges that can arise from old age and disability. He acknowledged that it's a "complicated situation" that people are sometimes inclined to avoid talking about because it's a difficult and even upsetting topic, but hopes that challenging subjects like this can be made more accessible through videogames.
"Many other countries have cultures where adult children would never even consider sending their disabled old parents to a senior living facility, but the US' extreme focus on individualism often leaves most of these older people in the dust," he said. "Studies about happiness levels in even the best senior homes show that seniors almost always feel better when living with family instead. But the latter is a lot of extra stress and work on the part of the family member who ends up taking care of them."
"I think bringing stories like these to an interactive medium like videogames can really make you consider the tough choices family members in these situations have to face, the patience they need to show, and the sense of reward that pushing through those hardships can bring."
He also believes that games like A Walk With Yiayia can have an appeal that goes beyond traditional audiences, to reach people who don't consider themselves gamers.
"I think we can slowly bridge that gap by making more approachable experiences that are self-contained and don't rely on previous game knowledge to play," he continued. "Obviously I don't think you can convert all movie-watchers or book-readers to game-players but I think it's worth trying to reel in more of them and sometimes pull away from the heuristics game designers use all the time without considering rethinking their approach."
The "thoughtful, bite-sized adventure" A Walk With Yiayia doesn't have a release date yet, but is available for wishlisting on Steam.