This is brilliant.
Courtesy of NYT:
Sea of Solitude, which Electronic Arts will publish this year, is among a growing number of video games that are tackling mental health issues.
Last year, a game called Celeste explored depression and anxiety through a protagonist who had to avoid physical and emotional obstacles. In 2017’s fantasy action-adventure video game Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, a young Celtic warrior deals with psychosis.
Other games in recent years, including Night in the Woods and Pry, have delved into self-identity, anger issues and post-traumatic stress disorder. All followed the 2013 interactive fiction game Depression Quest, which asked players to step into the shoes of a character living with depression.
These games are a far cry from the industry’s better-known storylines of battlefield heroics or the zombie apocalypse. But as a cultural conversation around mental health grows louder, makers of content are responding. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five American adults lives with a mental illness.
“Mental health is becoming a more central narrative in our culture, with greater efforts to normalize mental health challenges,” said Eve Crevoshay, executive director of Take This, a nonprofit that educates video game developers on best practices around portraying mental health. “With that trend comes response from creative industries, including games.” (Take This was founded in 2013 after the suicide of a video game journalist prompted a debate about the issue.)
I am one of those who has long argued for the therapeutic effects of video games on children and teens with mental health issues and developmental delays.
Video games are an opportunity for a young person who may find the real world constantly disappointing or overwhelming, to enter into a world where their achievements are constantly rewarded and the goals are easy to understand,
I have seen children with the attention span of a gnat on crack spend hours trying to beat a level in a video game.
Just the other day a worked with a young man whose entire day was made awesome in his eyes because he had discovered a new character in Pokemon Go.
This is a kid who struggled with depression and has a hard time showing his emotions, who suddenly was laughing out loud and talking to anybody who would listen about his discovery.
I literally had almost no idea what he was talking about, but I certainly understood the smile on his face.
So yes, video games could be the very therapeutic tool we need to reach young people who are not served well by medications and who resent grownups constantly asking them how they are feeling.