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Yelling From The Sideline

Hi folks! I’m MDV and I work for Somnova Studios as a medical consultant.

‘A what? Goddamn, those missing screws fags will really take anyone into their project!’

That’s probably how /vg/ would respond, but I’ve figured they might not be the only ones who’ve heard about Somnova’s medical consultants and wonder what they actually do. In this blog post I’ll try to explain to you exactly what we do and why I think we’re essential for this project to succeed.

If you’ve been following Missing Stars, you know we’re writing a visual novel set in a school for students with mental disorders. If we want to tell our story in any way that makes sense, we need the input of people who have experience with and knowledge about people with mental issues. The medical consultants of Somnova Studios are those people. To make sure everything on the subject of how exactly certain disabilities work and how exactly they are treated, we have M22 on our team, a practicing psychiatrist. I’m not a professional like him though. I’m not actually a medic; my ‘expertise’ derives from practical experience only. I have spent six years in a school like the one we’re writing about as a dev team. I know how those places work and how their students interact, which means I can help the writers to tell a story that displays the setting in an accurate way.

Do realize though that accurate does not mean respectful, politically correct or even tasteful. I’m not here to make Missing Stars into the autism rights movement's wet dream. I’m here to make sure the story represents schools for mentally ill students like they really are. This means I’ll have to break some people’s sugary expectations. The most important ones are the following two:

- Mentally ill people are fine and normal people like everyone else
- In a special school, all the students will be mentally ill, so they’ll respect each other’s differences and be understanding towards each other

The latter couldn’t be further from the truth actually. Just try to imagine what happens if you put a hyperactive kid in the same room as an autist that goes mad if he gets too many impulses, of course that’s not going to end well! It’s also a good thing to realize that the students aren’t open about their reason for being in a special school at all. They’re usually ashamed of it and lie about it whenever asked. Many students have a ‘I’m not as sick in the head as they are’ mentality and will go far to keep that illusion alive. There’s a reason why we didn’t name any disabilities in the character previews. This insecurity won’t only mean that students will lie about their own disabilities, but also that they will mock and bully others to feel better about themselves. In the six years I’ve spent in a special school, I’ve heard things that make the autism-bashing on 4chan seem nice. Schools for mentally ill students aren’t paradises of tolerance, acceptance and understanding. Quite the opposite really!

About the former I think that if people will respond to MS saying things like ‘my negative stereotypes about mentally ill people are gone! They’re just normal people like everyone else. The differences are just small and superficial’ it means the project and especially my part in it will be a failure. MS is not about normal people that happen to be blind. It’s about people that have serious mental issues that make it impossible for them to ever act and live like normal people. The issues we’re dealing with are simply not superficial; they are serious and we take them very seriously as devs.

Now how do I make sure the writers get it right? In a way, I’m like a football coach. Football coaches aren’t as good as their players at football usually and have no place on the field. All they do is yell at the players from the sideline and tell them what they’re doing wrong, and the players accept it because of his perceived authority. I am not a good at writing dramatic prose, that’s why I’m not a writer, still I get to criticize the writers as much as I want because that’s what I’m here for. I’m on the team to emphasize the writers’ inaccuracies until they just won’t be there anymore. The writers accept it, because as a medical consultant, I’m supposed to know what I’m talking about. That’s why one dev consistently calls me coach.

In a way, my role as a medical consultant is destructive rather than creative. Writers create, they use their creativity and skill to write a piece they believe to be good, then they deliver it to to me and I say something like this:

‘This part doesn’t make sense….cut it!....What is this even supposed to mean?... I’ve told you before, it doesn’t work that way!.... I’m going to have to ring the bullshit bell for this…They’re not normal people and St. Dymphna’s is not a normal high school, please rewrite this.’
And then the scene is rewritten into something more accurate that has a chance of being in the final product. So far, it has been going pretty well and I have to say things like that less and less.

I hope that clears up what the medical consultants are on the team for. Thanks for reading! If anyone has questions, feel free to ask on the forum.