World Mental Health Day is a day that we take stock of our minds and the various issues that plague them. For gamers as a community, the term ‘mental health’ is a double-edged sword that has become increasingly potent since WHO’s classification of gaming addiction as a mental disorder in 2017.
While the world grapples with the nitty-gritties of the disease, centres for digital detox and gaming de-addiction have begun to crop up around the world.
At the same time, new research has begun to indicate how the same “addicting qualities” that games possess can be used to develop newer interventions with regards to mental health issues. As cutting-edge medical research begins to look at the potential of gamification in treatment regimens, this week we look at the potential of video games as narrative platforms to discuss issues of mental health.
Three games that are centred around such issues:
Sea of Solitude (Xbox, PS4 & PC)
The first of these games come from Electronic Arts and was launched in July this year. With a unique premise, Sea of Solitude is the journey of a young woman who must come to terms with how the various issues in her life have transformed her into a metaphorical monster.
Dealing with issues like her parents’ quarrels, her brother being bullied and emotional isolation, the game offers a unique journey to face issues head on and come to terms with the consequences of the incidents in one’s life.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (PS4 & PC)
One of the best games of 2017, it is a journey of a woman who wishes to save the soul of her dead lover. The game perfectly blends episodes of psychosis with schizophrenia as you see Senua deal with the horrors of her past to achieve her goal.
A game that focuses on conveying the challenges of overcoming mental issues, the developers manage to successfully portray Senua’s incredible physical and mental strength.
Night in the woods (PS4, PC, Xbox, Android & iOS)
A game that follows the journey of a girl who drops out of college and returns to her home town, this is a journey of self-exploration. About a protagonist who must come to terms with a severe depersonalisation disorder that causes her to disassociate with people closes to her. A game with a fast mystery-led narrative, this is a unique experience that blends the mental challenges with the suspense exceptionally.
While the debates on gaming causing mental health issues are likely to continue, it is important to acknowledge that games as immersive and engaging platforms can help people experience issues that are otherwise invisible. Maybe, games could be the windows into the mind.