Though I enjoy playing adventure games of all types, I’m usually one to shy away from sensitive subjects. Despite this, when I saw A Song for Viggo run on Kickstarter I just had to back it. The subject matter didn’t really appeal to me, but the art style did. Over the past two years, I’ve gotten to know more about developer Simon Karlsson. I recently reached out to him to get his side of the story on a controversy from two years ago as well as the current state of development.
In A Song for Viggo, you play as a man that accidentally runs over his son. The majority of the game has him dealing with this tragedy and the aftereffects of the event. According to Simon, the game is about “grieving, suffering from depression and marital issues”. These are certainly sensitive issues, and Simon had found himself in the center of a controversy surrounding it.
Back during the funding campaign, Simon had reached out to people on “safe-place forum” regarding A Song for Viggo. This backfired tremendously. A lot of people lashed out at him, understandably angry that an outsider would invade their space with a video game. Simon had hoped that the game would help people cope with their own grief and depression. While that did happen, too many others thought that he was exploiting their problems.
Simon has since reached out to those affected by the events, apologizing for his actions. “I guess people have gotten over it,” he said. “I really hope so. If not, I’m still really sorry.” I’ll admit that I almost lost a good friend because of this controversy regarding the safe space forum, but in the end we made up. I sincerely hope that this was the case with Simon and those he angered.
Thankfully, animosity towards A Song for Viggo has lessened over time. “We still get supportive messages from individuals who’re going through grief, sorrow and depression, and they’re telling us that the project, just the development of it, helps them manage. It’s warms our heart.” This sounds like a complete turnaround from when the project was still trying to get money.
On a more positive note, development of A Song for Viggo continues apace. There is no end currently in sight, but the game is being worked on as evidenced by the semi-regular updates. The game has also increased dramatically in scope, each “act” going from about 15 minutes to nearly an hour long. That means the length has practically quadrupled in the past two years.
Simon still needs to deal with things like bugs, testing, and other aspects of the development process. When asked about the current state of development, Simon said “some times we think that ‘okay we’re about halfway done’, but then, when developing a game, the last 20% is as big as the beginning 80%”. He doesn’t want to release A Song for Viggo until it’s ready, saying, “The most important thing is that it’s good and according to our visions when it comes out.”
“If you want to experience the project, have patience with us. We are working hard. Also, we think that everyone should talk about sorrow and mental disorders. If everyone talked about it more, it wouldnt be so taboo. So please, do talk more, it helps.” – Simon Karlsson