How Video Games Explore Mental Illness

Games are a great escape, but they can also dig into complicated subject matter like mental illness and explore it in sensitive and effective ways.

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35 thoughts on “How Video Games Explore Mental Illness”

  1. I had an idea for a game about someone like me who suffers from OCD, Depression, Anxiety, and Psychosis. It wouldn't be an action game but more like a psychological thriller or maybe a Psychological Survival Game. You would have to maintain Hunger, Hydration, Tiredness, Stress, and Motivation. Stress is added by almost everything, from leaving the house to talking to people to cleaning, and also Motivation is removed by much of this. Stress can be recovered via Sleeping, Eating Specific Foods the character likes, drinking things the character likes, and through some social interactions that produce Catharsis. Motivation can be regained by sleep and successful social interactions that do not produce Catharsis. Cigarettes, Alcohol, and other Drugs can be used to maintain lowered stress but in the long term provide debuffs and recurring sources of stress.

    I dont know what the point of the game would be other than making a player feel every bit of stress that I experience every day… Letting players know that hey there are humans who just genuinely cant… Honestly I would almost prefer an open world type thing where you can get a job and get money and stuff, but with minimal actual plot and story.

  2. My favorite game is Alice: Madness Returns. But I have seen powerful games like; The Beginners Guide, The Static Speaks My Name, Fran Bow, Neverending Nightmares, That Dragon Cancer, Anxiety Attacks, One Chance, Presentable Liberty. I watch those types of games because I find them fascinating! Yes they have the creepy and gore that I love but it's the journey you take. What that person went through, how their mind works, what their body goes through, I find fascinating! What makes a person do what they do? That's why I love reading about serial killers. I'm fascinated with how their mind works.

  3. Thank you for making this. I'm currently writing an essay on how social media (YouTube) and video games can either lead to increased and/or decreased social equality. Specifically, how Let's Players and video games tackling mental health may create platforms for more personalized stories, which in turn lead to more openness on "taboo" issues. This video helped me out a lot!

    It's really encouraging to see games that handle mental illness in a mature and thoughtful way. Today we see so many ways in which mental illness is demonized (like how killers in movies, tv, and games often are depicted as "schizophrenic maniacs"). I think many indie developers have brilliant ideas that sadly don't get as much exposure and popularity as they should; however, many Let's Players who explore different kinds of games help broaden the scope of their viewers. The first example I can think of is Jacksepticeye playing "Presentable Liberty". A very simple game with a very powerful story, that is given even more depth and impact by him relating to the content and reaching out to the audience. While I don't struggle with a specific problem myself, it makes me so happy to see people opening up in the comment section, encouraging people to talk about their problems and consoling each other 🙂

    Sorry for the long post, it's just something that has interested me for a while, that I'm glad to see is given more and more attention these days. Games really have the ability to reach out to so many people!

  4. It´s good to se gamespot broadening the way they cover videogames, as a relative new medium, videogames have the potencial to convey a lot of themes in different ways… and as always … Jess <3

  5. I never knew these games existed, thank you for this video. it's hard to convey what depression is like to live with this and gives me hope that people can at least develope some sympathy people who are afflicted with various illnesses. thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  6. Great content from GameSpot. It's thanks to diversified  content like this that I've been following you guys since 2012.

    Keep up the great work folks, specially you guys from Australia. Your team seems to be the smallest in the site but the content you guys have been making lately, such as the news, is top notch!

  7. Refreshing to see content like this on a video games related channel.

    For myself, I'm curious of what the game Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is gonna be like.
    The devs have mentioned their sincere interest in depicting the protagonists' dissociative identity disorder in a "realistic" manner.

  8. Great video Jess. I'm sure everyone has suffered or knows someone who has suffered from mental illness at some point in their life. The more we talk about it the better! People shouldn't be afraid to ask for help. Thank you and keep up the great work. We love your down to earth attitude and positivity! ☺️

  9. Alice: Madness Returns is, to me, a harrowing dissection of repressed memories, paranoid delusions and society's continuing failure to protect the young. I've played that one multiple times just to explore those themes.

  10. I live with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder, and I'm glad to see mental illness be handled in a mature way. It's often a punchline or displayed comical, but it's just not. Sure, some symptoms are less severe than others, but when it makes you feel like continuing to live and fight isn't worth it, it's something that needs to be taken very seriously. I really appreciate this video. Thank you!

  11. I just wanted to say that I wasn't subscribed to you guys previously, but after getting a little tired of IGN's news/content style, I looked for a new outlet, and I have been pleasantly surprised with you guys. Keep it up!

  12. This was a really good insight on a different way of understanding what people with mental health go through. Having gone through some mental health issues myself I am glad that there are outlets like these to help sufferers and people around them to understand better. This was really good and I hope to see more interesting and thought provoking content in the future 🙂

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