Issue 3.8: Of Sound Game and Mind
An Analysis of Depictions of Mental Illness in Video Games
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Game & Word Volume 3, Issue 8: Sunday, Jul. 3, 2022
Publisher: Jay Rooney
Author, Graphics, Research: Jay Rooney
Logo: Jarnest Media
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Table of Contents
Summary & Housekeeping
Feature: “Of Sound Game and Mind” (~34-minute read)
Food for Talk: Discussion Prompts
Game & Word-of-Mouth
Today, we’ll examine a few of the better portrayals of mental illness in video games.
Guess what? I’m learning how to make video games! If you’d like to sign up to be a playtester, let me know. Our first one’s a steampunk tavern simulator!
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🚨🚨🚨 SPOILER ALERT 🚨🚨🚨
This article contains MAJOR spoilers for Psychonauts, Psychonauts 2, Night in the Woods, and Hellblade: Senna’s Sacrifice. You've been warned!
⚠️⚠️⚠️ MEGA CONTENT WARNING ⚠️⚠️⚠️
This article contains in-depth discussions of mental illness, and everything that comes with it. This includes, but is not limited to: anxiety, depression, disassociation, bipolar disorder, paranoid personality disorder, alcoholism, PTSD, psychosis, schizophrenia, trauma, self-harm, and suicide. If any of these topics distress you, please proceed with caution. Even if not, this article can get very intense. There will be no specially marked sections, as this entire issue is centered around the subject.
If you’re going through a tough time, you are not alone. Feel free to click out of this article. Take care of yourself, first and foremost.
If you feel you are in danger of self-harm or suicide, please call 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) [US] or +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 [UK].
Feature: Of Sound Game and Mind
"You can't help but have empathy once you're inside someone else's mind, seeing the world through their eyes and seeing what they're struggling with." ~Tim Schafer; Creator, Psychonauts, on thoughtfully depicting mental illness in games
Welcome back to the waking world! That was quite a journey, wasn’t it?
Oh, and if you’re just joining us, then:
b) You can catch up on our voyage to the center of the human mind, starting here:
So, now that we’ve had a minute to decompress and process everything we’ve seen, heard, and experienced, let’s proceed. I wanted to give everyone a breather, because we’re going to get into a pretty heavy topic today: mental illness.
The whole debate on mind-body duality is way too philosophical, and thus beyond our this piece’s scope. Not to mention it’s so intractable we could spend years on it. But as modern neuroscience has shown, the brain and mind are linked. When something happens to the brain, the mind is affected.
As such, it follows that if the body—specifically, the brain—can get sick, so can the mind.