Ninja Theory launches project to improve mental wellbeing through game design

“Gaming the mind to master mental health.” 

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a game known for its powerful exploration of mental health – and even post-release, studio Ninja Theory has continued that good work with initiatives such as a mental health tutor scholarship. Yesterday, Ninja Theory unveiled The Insight Project – a research and development project seeking to help alleviate mental suffering through combining technology, game design and clinical neuroscience.

According to a blog post on Xbox Wire, the project emerged from discussions between Ninja Theory co-founder Tameem Antoniades and neuroscience professor Paul Fletcher of the University of Cambridge, who helped advise the team on representing mental health in Senua’s Sacrifice. The idea is to use game technology (such as virtual avatars, natural human interfaces and data analytic tools) to “generate strategies to alleviate mental distress”.

“All of these tools were created to engage a captive mass audience, train them in new skills and promote mastery of games, and this is a process we think can equally be applied to mental wellbeing”, Antoniades explains in the announcement video.

“We kept returning to this profound insight that what Hellblade had achieved was to make the invisible visible”, Fletcher adds. “What if we could go further and give people the ability to see, engage with, and perhaps even overcome their fears and anxieties?”

Intended as an open and transparent exploratory research project, the initiative will take place over the course of several years, with the end goal being to create “a mainstream solution to help treat mental suffering and encourage wellbeing”. For a more in-depth look at the project’s aims, make sure to read the journal entries on the official website.

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