Halloween is around the corner, and a new video game coming out in the next few weeks takes players on a journey through a haunted house.
“Good Bones” is created by Jes Negrón, a Wallingford woman who aims to do more than entertain. The game also reckons with a serious problem: domestic violence.
“I think it’s important for more stories like this to be told, so that more people can be reached and realize that they do deserve better,” Negrón, Retcon Games founder, said.
A dilapidated house and a supernatural twist set the scene for the “Good Bones.”
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“It's about a woman whose wife dies, and she moves her daughter away to kind of run from her grief,” Negrón said. “She ends up in this sort of spooky house where there's kind of a mystery unfolding. She has to work together with her daughter to figure out the mystery of a ghost who is haunting the house.”
The puzzle game embraces Negrón’s Puerto Rican heritage. All of the characters are Latina, and Negrón contracted Latino artists for the visuals and the music.
“There are a lot of little details in the art,” she said. “It has a very hip-hop, lo-fi sound, but with a mix of a lot of Latin beats. So you've got some bossa nova, some salsa, some merengue in there.”
Negrón, who was born in Connecticut after her parents moved to the United States from Puerto Rico, celebrates her culture. However she said the game also addresses issues she has too often seen penetrating family life: machismo and domestic violence.
“I think it's just something that isn't talked about enough in the Latino community,” Negrón said.
In coding the game and writing thousands of lines of dialogue, Negrón wants her storyline to bring those problems out of the darkness.
“A lot of Latinx communities and people, they see these things, if they don't experience them themselves, and it's all very hush-hush,” Negrón said. “I think a lot of people relate to that, all communities are very hush-hush about domestic violence. I feel like it does need to be talked about more.”
Negrón said “Good Bones” will be released next month on the gaming platform Steam. It’s on about 4,000 wish lists, and Negrón hopes her work brings awareness to a younger generation.
“I think anytime someone interacts with a story, they take something away from it,” she said.
It is a story about new beginnings, for the characters and for Negrón, too, who founded her own company Retcon Games in 2021.
It comes after she left her job at Riot Games, filing a class action lawsuit along with other women for unequal pay and sexual harassment. The company has agreed to pay $100 million to settle the lawsuit.
Now branching out on her own, Negrón said Retcon aims to embrace inclusion, and uplift the voices of marginalized communities.
“My goal is really to allow people to press that rewind button and re-record, you know, tell their stories the way they were meant to be told,” she said.
Through storytelling, she is pushing to provoke social change.
“If they really connect to something, and they realize, 'you know what, I share some of these experiences,' it can open up a whole new world that they didn't even consider before, and really get them to consider, 'I deserve better,'” Negrón said.
“Good Bones” will be on sale on Steam for $14.99 when it is released.