How Gaming Can Be Used for Good in Mental Health – MHT


Changing the narrative: how gaming can be used for good in mental health

For many years, since their rise to popularity in the late 90s, video games and gaming has been synonymous with negative associations: addiction, aggression, bad sleep patterns etc. But what if we’re missing a trick? What if video games could be used for good? Ultimately, could they help people experiencing psychological distress?

Representation

In 2017, a video game called ‘Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice’ was released onto PC and Playstation 4. The game was a particularly pivotal moment in the development of video games as a vital medium of art, and as a beacon of representation. The game also lead to it’s developers believing video games could go beyond an entertainment experience, they could be utilised as a therapeutic experience.

The game developers of ‘Hellblade’, Ninja Theory, made the bold choice of creating a main character, that the player manoeuvres through the world as, who has psychosis.

Upon deciding to make Senua’s (the main character) mental health a focus in the game and a part of its mechanics, Ninja theory consulted with leading neuroscientists, organizations such as Wellcome Trust – who actually put them in touch with people who live with psychosis – and experts on voice hearing to create an experience for the player that was as close to how auditory hallucinations are experienced in real life.


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