MuniReality’s Ambitious Plan to Become a Mental Health Game Platform

Michelle Chen was no stranger to depression when she decided to make a game about it, but she wanted to tell more stories than her own. She reached out to other to gather their perspectives, and in doing so, found hope.

Reading other people’s stories made me realize that I’m not alone. Also knowing that other people have gone through the same thing and have beaten it, gave me hope that I can too.

Working on the game and writing development blog posts, allowed me to be honest and be vulnerable, to show a side of me that I’ve never been able to before. It gave me the medium to finally open up the conversation about mental health with my friends and the people around me.

It took me more or less 4 months and I made a game, which I called “Depression Simulator”. It is a point-and-click game that simulates the everyday life of someone living with depression, where even the most mundane and menial tasks become a challenge.

And then I graduated with Distinction from my Masters degree.

But I didn’t want to stop there.

Chen’s next step is MuniReality, a platform where people living with mental health issues can share their own stories with a supportive community. She and her team at dibdib studios plan to then transform those stories into video games, games built with input from the people who inspired them and that community of fellow sufferers. In dibdib studios’ vision, this will be a fully collaborative effort, with community members contributing characters, music, background sounds, voice acting, art and more.

The goal is to create games that not only make people feel heard, but also share the experience of a whole spectrum of mental health issues with players who may not be familiar with those issues.

Dibdib studios is currently crowdsourcing funds to bring MuniReality to life. It’s an ambitious project. If it succeeds, the team aims to make monthly games that are released to the public on a pay-what-you-want model, with any revenue shared among contributors. That way, they explain, they can help fight stigma by giving more people free access to learn about mental illness. They also hope that this will give people the chance to share their own stories, feel connected to a community of others who are going through similar experiences, and maybe even find the resources to seek treatment.

If you’re interested in MuniReality, you can head to its crowdfunding page to learn more. You can also read more of Michelle Chen’s story at Gamasutra.

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