Ninja Theory has given itself a major challenge in the development of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice: they’ve created a protagonist who is dealing with psychosis. That’s a hard subject to tackle with accuracy, and more so if you want to stay clear of harmful stereotypes. Ninja Theory has been documenting their efforts in a series of development diaries, the latest of which covers their handling of Senua’s auditory hallucinations.
“It points to something important that I think games can offer, which is to let you live in the skin of someone else, someone who perceives the world very differently from most of us and understand what they’re going through in a way that no amount of reading about the subject can do.”
The team is working with Charles Fernyhough, professor of psychology at Durham University and author of The Voices Within: The History and Science of How We Talk to Ourselves. They’ve sought his help and the help of several people with first-hand knowledge of voice hearing in making Senua’s experience real to life. The dev diary also explores the technology Ninja Theory is using to emulate the experience of voice hearers — the video includes binaural audio of emulated hallucinations, so listen with headphones (or don’t if you think you might find that disturbing).