Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice’s August 8th release date approaches, so we’ll soon know how well Ninja Theory achieves its goal of respectfully and accurately portraying psychosis in its titular character. In the meantime, we have this fantastic interview from Official PlayStation Magazine (shared by GamesRadar+).
While we’ve seen a few interviews with the game’s developers, OPM spoke with Paul Fletcher, psychiatrist and professor of Health Neuroscience at University of Cambridge. Fletcher has been consulting on the project, helping to ensure the portrayal is accurate.
He reflects on the experience of working with game developers, and Ninja Theory in particular. He also explains how Hellblade could be helpful in teaching its audience about hallucinations, not exactly as an empathy game, but as a visceral, immersive example of a very specific experience.
What even the healthiest people do is miss out a lot of stuff that’s actually there, they warp things to fit with their expectations, they build a world that fits their expectations, and in that sense I think we’re closer to hallucinations than we think. Much of what’s going on around you, that you feel you’re perceiving clearly, is actually your brain filling in the gaps.
OPM: What moments in the game do you think represent these ideas well?
PF: Well I haven’t seen the whole game, but from what I’ve seen time and again I’ve thought, for example, the binaural voices as representations of auditory hallucinations, that I think is stunning because it brings things just right to the fore. You can see the reaction among students when you play that, they’re suddenly engaged with the idea of what hallucinations are, they’re not just verbally describing what somebody heard. Something like that I think is amazing. On top of that there are all sorts of concepts, quite complex concepts that we use in our neuroscience experiments about how the brain picks up patterns and how different manipulations can mislead it. To see that represented in a game in a number of ways is really exciting.
Head on over to GamesRadar+ to read the full, fascinating interview, or pick up the July 2017 issue of Official PlayStation Magazine.