Heidi Erwin
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Everything in the Garden
A Backyard World About Love, Mistakes, & Grandparents
WHEN:  Spring 2019
WHAT:  Unity, Blender, Design

This little 3D world holds a small story about my grandparents: moments of hurt sit beside acts of compassion.
Made for Digital Worlding: Terraforming Fact, Future, Fiction and Fabulation.
Rabbit Scene


My grandpa thinks the Chinese zodiac is really cute (I think to the many times he cut out the animals from free calendars from Chinese grocery stores and hung them up around the house). It is for this reason that he is represented as a monkey, and I am represented as a rabbit.

My grandma was born in the Year of the Rat, and she always had a bit too much pride to celebrate that fact, so I've chosen to render her as a human. However, I have not tried to capture her actual likeness... hair dyed jet black each time white roots grew visible in the slightest, rotating formal purple vests reminiscent of her past as a principal, a scrunched smile that looked at you the same way when you were five years old and ran into her arms after school to show her the token you got for walking a mile and when you were seventeen and went straight to your room after school, shutting the door behind you, dead-faced, in silence... these are not things that a semester-long project can even begin to attempt.

"Everything in the Garden" refers to the idiom, "everything in the garden is rosy," typically used negatively to suggest that things are not as perfect as they seem...

Sitting With Grandma Screenshot
Sitting With Grandpa Screenshot


The theme of this world is “conditional love.”

I’m interested in exploring an inherent defensiveness we have about our family members, especially those who have passed. We often paint relatives as perfect after their death, but no human is perfect, and death doesn’t change that.

But flaws don’t make people less valuable, and I’d like my world to celebrate my grandparents, in the space in between their flaws and their strengths.

I love both of my grandparents, but it isn’t all-consuming and “unconditional,” as the wisdom goes. There are aspects of them that have hurt me, as well as aspects of them that have shaped me into a more compassionate person.

For me, it is all worth mentioning.

Chair Screenshot
Fountain Screenshot


This is the first original 3D experience I've built, and it proved especially challenging as a solo project.

In part to help combat this, I created a narrative prototype in 2D using Bitsy. While the world has evolved quite a bit since this experiment, I think it provides a good two-minute introduction to this world. You can play the prototype here.

Bitsy Screenshot
Bitsy Screenshot
Bitsy Screenshot
Bitsy Screenshot


(you were cuter when you were younger)

Photo of Grandparents and Myself at Graduation in 2017

Thank you both for the garden, a place I've found myself lost, stuck, searching, and loved.

Monkey in Crayon
Grandma in Crayon