the first part of a 6-month-long project
This game is the first in what will be a series created throughout the duration of a two-quarter-long project that I am working on through the UC Davis Design Department. The following is the text from my introductory blog post/devlog, which you can view here.
Mental Illness Through Interactive Digital Media
My experience with mental illness has largely been one of isolation and misunderstanding by friends and strangers alike – an experience that is, unfortunately, very common. I have learned firsthand how powerful it is to feel understood and seen in a culture that so frequently fails to understand or accurately represent mental illness. According to NAMI, mental illness affects 43.8 million – or 1 in 5 – American adults in a given year (i). NAMI also reports that, despite the availability of effective treatment, there are often delays of up to several decades between the onset of the symptoms of mental illness and the beginning of treatment (i). In its “StigmaFree” campaign, the organization discusses how stigma and societal misunderstanding harm populations experiencing mental illness by causing discrimination, and by creating a cultural environment in which individuals cannot speak about their experiences, and are frequently prevented from seeking medical help (ii). I hope to explore, through this project, how interactive digital media (games, animations, etc.) might help to foster an environment that encourages the open discussion of mental illness, free of judgement and negative social repercussions.
I will attempt to answer three questions:
- Can interactive media (video games, for example) convey a subset of the experience of mental illness?
- Can an experiential game of this sort help others with mental illnesses feel seen, affect the way they understand their own experiences, or aid in the creation of a supportive community or environment?
- Could the act of making deeply personal media of this sort and sharing it publicly serve as a kind of therapy, akin to music therapy?
I will address the questions above by creating a new interactive digital media piece approximately every two weeks that explores some experience or feeling associated with mental illness. Some pieces may take more time, some may take less. These pieces will call on my own experiences and feelings, and will therefore be personal in nature, but I believe work of this kind may be capable of communicating something to any number of people. Each piece will be accompanied by 1-2 development logs or process book entries detailing both technical elements of the production, and emotional thought behind the choices made in the process. Both the media pieces and the development log entries will be posted publicly online, with the hopes of allowing for communication between viewers/players, as well as for the potential creation of a kind of positive, understanding, and empathetic community.
- “Mental Health By The Numbers.” NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers.
- “StigmaFree Me.” NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Get- Involved/Take-the-stigmafree-Pledge/StigmaFree-Me.
Get In My Friend Carrie's Car
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