Today sees the launch of Fractured Minds. It’s a special title, for more than the usual reasons of enticing cinematics or a sexy soundtrack.
Winner of the BAFTA Young Game Designers Award, the game was created by Emily Mitchell when she was 17 years old, with the hope of aiding understanding of mental illness. The player gets to embark on a journey through the human psyche and experience six atmospheric and thought-provoking chapters. Each symbolises a different aspect or challenge associated with mental health issues, from isolation to anxiety, with everyday situations being distorted beyond recognition.
We’ll be supporting this Wired Productions release through our etailer network. 80% of proceeds from the game will go towards initiatives for Emily and the mental health charity, Safe In Our World. And it’s a cause that we’re particularly psyched about.
Mental health awareness is an important part of the Genba culture. That’s why we partnered with Safe In Our World, whose mission is “to create and foster worldwide mental health awareness within the video game industry and beyond” and to “make it a natural topic of discussion.”
And we want this to be an important part of other studio cultures too.
A year ago, our CEO and ex-health tech MD, Matt Murphy, posted an appeal on LinkedIn for people to join him in exploring how the health and games industries could come together to work for good. The post got an incredible response. It was clear that many people from both sectors were itching to get involved in some form of transformative, cross-industry collaboration.
Out of that, Matt has linked up with Leo Zullo and Neil Broadhead from Wired Productions (now one of our publisher partners) who were already in the midst of building a charity that would increase mental health support and awareness in the games industry. It was the perfect opportunity to channel this desire to see games and health collide positively.
Last month, Safe In Our World finally launched and we’re so glad we get to play a part in it.
Our involvement with the charity inspires us to support our own team in a more ‘holistic’ way. But we’re also educating ourselves on how certain games can be incredibly transformative for mental health sufferers.
Ninja Theory recently launched ‘The Insight Project’ – combining tech, game design and clinical neuroscience with the aim of treating mental suffering and encouraging mental wellbeing. Then there’s Celeste, from Matt Makes Games. The game follows the journey of a young woman, Madeline, as she attempts to climb the intimidating Celeste Mountain. It soon becomes apparent that the mountain is a metaphor for Madeline’s internal mental health struggles. The speech captions at points of this pixel platformer are no doubt achingly familiar to many – “I can’t breathe” accompanies her anguished face, struggling with the weight of a panic attack as she tackles the mountain.
It’s games like Celeste and Fractured Minds – whose creators have experienced mental health struggles first-hand – that shine a light on the raw reality of it. As Emily said of FM, “I realise the game is provocative and at times uncomfortable”, but “confronting mental illness is extremely challenging and uncomfortable.”
These games also reach out to those in despair, desperately yearning to experience something relatable. Something to remind them it’s OK not to be OK all the time. And if a game can be so effective in helping someone finally feel more connected and less alone, then that can only be a very good thing.
Fractured Minds launches today (14th November) at 10am GMT on Xbox, PS4, Switch and PC.
You can find out more about Safe In Our World here.