Skin Deep

Student Entrant 2023

University of Southern California
Abby Sherlock


Skin Deep is a 2-D MAC/PC/Browser interactive graphic novel dealing with body image, loss, and cats. In a "slice of life" story the player experiences core memories or vignettes of Kira O'Malley-Park, an adult trying to make sense of her past, relationship with food and childhood. These gameplay moments take the form of interactive metaphors, simple and user-friendly to understand ways of keeping the player engaged with the unfolding narrative. These simple but vital elements represent on the larger scale Kira's own psyche or emotional state. Adjacent to webtoons and visual novels, the game challenges our own preconceived notions of just how digital interactivity has to work to be considered gamelike.

By touching a subject matter (self-esteem and intersectional representations of bodies) Skin Deep encourages new types of characters and themes worthy of exploration in our digital media that have not often been discussed enough in video games. The medium that Skin Deep is in, is a newer genre of a digital comic game. Our challenge in our audience was those who have been always hegemonically privileged in thinness; it can be difficult to empathize with an issue some people believe to be self-inflicted or not of equal importance to other elements of intersectionality.