Eternal Darkness, Psychonauts, and sanity in videogames

Western depictions of mental illness often tend toward the dramatic. Shows like House often showcase rare disorders or extreme versions of a diagnosis when they mention mental illness at all: the schizophrenic woman who sees fire where there isn’t any, a mute patient who is able to speak after one redeeming event, or the man who had bipolar disorder and kept it secret after opting for an experimental surgery—one that ultimately resulted in malaria. In other cases, the idea of insanity is used as, if not a comedic device, a warning; one simply cannot look into the face of an…


A videogame meant to raise awareness of anxiety attacks

Anxiety Attacks doesn’t need to wander far from its inspiration to earn its status as a horror experience; there are no jumpscares or monsters—just the knowledge that you might not be in control of what you see and feel, that something as simple as moving and breathing can become a chore to juggle. It is, in short, a mental breakdown simulator, emulating the experiences of those who suffer from anxiety disorders and anxiety attacks. You start in a bright forest, greeted with flowers and birdsong; the sun is bright, and the world is rich and vivid. You are given only…


Monument Valley studio bring the game’s serenity to a mental health app

Anyone who played Monument Valley remembers the feeling of wellbeing that washed over them as they discovered the solution to each puzzle. It’s that sense that everything had its proper place; that things fit together and work in harmony. The world, when you manage to see it from the right perspective, simply makes sense. It was the serenity that made Monument Valley such an unforgettable and invaluable experience. Ustwo, the design studio behind the M.C. Escher-esque mobile gaming masterpiece, teamed up with psychologists to combine the emotional tranquility of Monument Valley with wellness science to create a powerful digital tool.…


New advances in videogame therapy heal the mind and soothe the soul.

There’s been a proliferation lately of games that address mental illness – particularly anxiety and depression. From the brilliant, difficult Actual Sunlight to today’s release of Depression Quest, the taboo of talking about mental illness in game is starting to peel back. Anecdotally, it also seems more people in the game industry are starting to open up about their own personal brushes with mood disorders. A number of high profile developers and writers– like Russ Pitts and PopCap’s Jeff Green, among many others – have made statements about suffering from similar maladies as of late. Overall, it seems like gaming…