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?
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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