Take This, the first mental health nonprofit organization geared toward game developers and the gaming community, is honoring World Mental Health Day (October 10th) by releasing a list of video games that accurately and thoughtfully portray mental health challenges, giving gamers a better understanding of obstacles that others face. To further its efforts to destigmatize mental illness within the game development and player communities, the group is also leading discussions at The International Gaming Summit on Mental Health Illness and Awareness (Oct 9-10, 2019) in Toronto.
Take This is the programming partner for this inaugural intimate and results-focused gathering of people who are addressing mental health across game communities and among the people who make and play games. The two day event features keynote speakers and panels focused on the representation of mental illness in games, mental health in the gaming industry workplace, and mental health in the online gaming community. On the second day, a select group of invited guests will work in groups to identify practical recommendations and plans for research, new approaches, and action items in these three areas.
To recognize World Mental Health Day, Take This is issuing the below list of games that feature well-portrayed mental health themes. Take This hopes that by playing these titles, gamers are able to better recognize and accept mental health challenges of those with which they interact.
Shrinking Pains, Made in 48 hours for the Global Game Jam 2018, Shrinking Pains is a short narrative experience that explores a semi-autobiographical struggle with anorexia. Play as a sufferer of anorexia that needs to navigate life and relationships. The game features a compelling emotional and realistic story that reflects the difficulties of living and dealing with a mental illness like anorexia.
In the Keeper’s Shadow represents childhood trauma through a dense, visually stunning fantasy environment. The game is an intimate hand-painted adventure game where Emi, a young, inquisitive girl journeys to unearth secrets amidst the crumbling, war-torn city she’s called home. Through a mix of point-and-click, direct control, and puzzles, players will help Emi understand and confront an ever encroaching twisted psychological and physical landscape. The game features audio logs, artifacts, atmospheric sound, and complex characters that invite players to connect with echoes of the past and ponder themes of love, despair, compassion, inner strife, and closure.
Sea of Solitude
Sea of Solitude takes players on a personal journey of a young woman’s loneliness. Set sail across a beautiful and evolving world, where nothing is quite what it seems. Meet fantastical creatures and monsters, learn their stories, and solve challenges. Explore a flooded city, either by boat, on foot, or by swimming through the water itself. Dare to look what lies beneath the surface, in a haunting struggle of darkness and light, and discover what it truly means to be human.
Destiny’s Sword is a combat/strategy MMORPG that weaves a rich narrative that guides the player as they control fantastic clashes between human and machine. What really sets Destiny’s Sword apart from other MMOs is that progression is not just about stats, abilities and a bunch of random numbers. It’s also about managing the mental health of your team. With a thorough injury mechanic, characters in Destiny’s Sword can be wounded and even killed, but they can also suffer persistent mental health issues like PTSD, depression, anxiety and addiction. The company’s goal is for players to gain empathy for their characters as they shepherd them through recovery
Gardens of Fog
Despite all the monsters, ghouls, and dragons players often face in Wizard of the Coast’s popular Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), the toughest adversary often come from within players themselves – Anxiety and Depression. D&D players can take on Anxiety and Depression in the “Gardens of Fog” adventure module, giving a compassionate voice to challenges that plague so many. Sales of this module benefit Take This.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Set in the Viking age, a broken Celtic warrior embarks on a haunting vision quest into Viking Hell to fight for the soul of her dead lover. Created in collaboration with neuroscientists and people who experience psychosis, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice will pull players deep into Senua’s mind as the game depicts experiences of psychosis and trauma in a thoughtful, non-stigmatizing, but very adult manner.
Fork Parker’s Crunch Out
Fork Parker’s Crunch Out is a collaboration between Mega Cat Studios, Devolver Digital, and Take This for the label’s first-ever Super Nintendo Entertainment System release, starring the company’s larger than life CFO, Fork Parker. The game aims to raise awareness of the all too real issue of game dev crunch through a playful look at the pressures of game development, exaggerated by the menace that is a game publisher
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.