More And More Video Games Are Now Tackling Mental Health Issues

Could interactive media help some people recover more quickly?

From Sea of Solitude to Night in the Woods, a whole new genre of video games is emerging that address mental health, depression and anxiety.

In a recent New York Times article, readers are given a preview of Sea of Solitude, which follows a young woman navigating a city that's mostly underwater. The game's creator, Cornelia Geppert, told The Times it was modeled after her own emotional state following a 2013 break up. 

"Mental health is becoming a more central narrative in our culture, with greater efforts to normalize mental health challenges," Eve Crevoshay, the executive director of a nonprofit that teaches developers best practices on including mental health issues in video games, told The Times. "With that trend comes response from creative industries, including games." 

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There will certainly be a market for gaming characters who portray mental health. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five adults in the United States living with a mental illness. Games like Night in the Woods portray characters that will certainly strike a chord with thousands of Americans. In it, the main character Mae is a college dropout who comes home only to find that she no longer fits in with old friends and family. And Night in the Woods and Sea of Solitude are far from alone. 

As noted in a roundup by The Gamer about video games tackling the tough subject, in the game Gris, a young girl navigates the five stages of grief while trying to find her voice. In the game Celeste, a young girl is trying to climb a mountain to find the right path of her life. She suffers from anxiety. In The Last Of Us, the main character loses his daughter in an apocalyptic event before going on a journey to overcome his grief. In the game Limbo, the main character is traveling through a black and white world with no voice, completely alone and amongst violence. As The Gamer put it, Limbo is "grief and depression given form."

Because video games are much more interactive than movies or television, some experts have said the new theme of games could help people "bounce back" quicker than traditional forms of entertainment, according to The Times

Cover image via Electronic Arts.

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