I guess this could go under Art Therapy, even though there’s no creation required on the part of the player. It’s a different kind of experience…
I’ve been thinking about how to handle my eventual Masters program. My plan is to get my LPC and work with fellow survivors of traumatic illness (stroke, heart attack, DVT/PE, cancer) but sometimes I think I’d like to do something with game design.
There are quite a few games out there that explore mood disorders. The two that stick with me the most:
The Cat Lady–pretty straightforward, dealing with the effects of severe depression. It’s about a woman who lives alone after a great personal loss and her fight for survival. The art style is a bit unusual, but I think that supports the idea that the game is being filtered through the view of someone who is in a great deal of emotional pain. Nothing is beautiful when you’re in the throes of it, even the most colorful memories in the game are just a bit…off. The music can be unsettling, as if heard through the same filter.
The Path–a dark version of Little Red Riding Hood. They call it “a game of growing up” since it’s centered on a family of sisters, each of whom represents a different life experience, but I found it highly therapeutic after the death of my father and my own near-death. Artistically the game has a very Burtonesque style, with dynamic music and constantly shifting map design. The Path represents a life half-lived, a life of doing what’s expected. Stay on the path and you get to Grandmother’s house, but you haven’t learned a thing. You have to go into the dark, dark Forest, and who knows what you’ll find there…
If anyone decides to seek them out, I will warn you straightaway that they are VERY dark, possibly triggering. Tread with caution if you’re in a fragile headspace.
So I’m pondering the idea of creating a game for a thesis. I don’t know if I’d want it to be as dark as those two, but I do feel like I could make an interesting statement about the emotional aftermath of traumatic illness. Thoughts and input welcome!