10 incredible anxiety-inducing games about being vulnerable

First person shooter Call of Duty, den of vice Grand Theft Auto, adventure fantasy Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

These are just a few of the high-octane industry-leading video games making millions today.

But gaming does have to be action-packed or weapon-wielding: they can be intensely emotional intimate experiences — few know this better than game developer and lecturer Robert Yang.

“I want to explore anxiety and leave players unsatisfied or confused,” said Yang when we first interviewed him.

Games that make you uncomfortable

Today Yang’s students are following in his footsteps, and the New York teacher has shared a series of student work developed to “autobiographical” themes.

These cover all sorts of tender subjects; from being sick on public transport, to having a crush, or feeling miserable in your job.

They push the boundaries of what viewers expect of a game and give deeply personal insights into their creators.

They’re emotionally engaging, unusual, and full of intrigue.

All are published on itch.io, so you can give them a go yourself.

We think they’re great.

Check out 10 of our favourites so far…

Pumping in the bathroom

“Pumping In The Bathroom is based off of a common situation I experience as a type 1 diabetic,” explains the student who made it.

“I often must change the infusion (the needle that is always in my body) of my insulin in a public bathroom. A few people always stop and stare at me, probably telling themselves something like ‘obviously it’s not heroin, but I mean, what is it?’”

The Night Shift

“This is a game about working night shift at a gas station and making food for customers,” says explains it’s creator.

“The solitude and fact that it was night shift was important to me so I tried to make that evident in lighting and mood of the game. Customers will enter the store and you need to make them sandwiches while maintaining their satisfaction.”

“If their satisfaction is too low, you will be fired.”

Train Vom

“Three stops away, queasy feeling. Two stops, a bit burns your throat. One, panic. None, vom,” says the game’s creator

“Train Vom is about the embarrassment of vomiting in public. It is a difficult stealth game in which the player avoids the gaze of other passengers when they need to release a good old heap of puke.”

A Game About Injury

“This is a game about my experience being injured as a runner and the sort of cyclical hell that comes out of that,” says the game’s maker.

“The idea behind the mechanic was that the more you run the more your body would fall apart.”

House Sneak

“You are a rebellious child in a house and are looking to sneak out,” says the student behind House Sneak.

“Your motivations are unknown, however, you are certain that getting caught would mean absolute death. You have to walk through the house and avoid all possible enemies.”


“Its supposed to represent my experience socialising in high school,” says the maker of Windows.

“The long lonely walk across these hallways is supposed to represent how awful it feels to be alone; the windows show the people I wanted to interact with, but couldn’t.”

“Falling through the floor shows tries to greatly increase the feeling of loneliness.”


“In Departure you play as a child whose family is moving once again,” says its creator.

“Nearly everything has been packed, you’re just missing a few of your own precious items. Find the Book, Picture, Keyboard, and Baseball and put them into the open box to finish packing.”


“This game is based on a date,” says its maker.

“I wanted to emulate the difficulty of juggling topics in a conversation.”

Dear [Crush]

“You play as a teenage boy who is having a huge crush on the girl next (classroom’s) door, and you plan to confess her feelings through a letter,” says the student behind Dear [Crush].

“However, peer pressure is a fairly real thing, so you don’t want your classmates to find out you’re doing this cheesy thing because that will be embarrassing.”

The Competition

“This is a game about my experience with food-focused Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which I was diagnosed with in seventh grade,” explains the developer behind it.

“I wanted to convey in game form how it felt to feel the need to consume and expel the exact same amount of calories as my twin sister, down to taking steps at the same time, sitting and standing at the same times, and of course eating the same amount of the same things.”

A Walk With Mom

“This is a game … based on my own experiences of calling my mom during my walk home from the subway after my later classes,” says the student behind this game.

“Over the course of the walk from the subway to my dorm, we’d catch up with each other about what we were up to, and I felt like this small ritual would make a good subject for a small, autobiographical game.”


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