Welcome, new friends and old, to our roundup of some of the best writing and most interesting stories about mental health in the industry this week. We have a look at loss and Edith Finch, an in-depth breakdown of plans for a new Australian serious games initiative, another legislator taking on the loot box controversy, and more.
What Remains of Edith Finch and losing someone you love
“One of the stranger parts of this job is the need to deal with major life events while also being really stressed out about video games. Sometimes that’s a relief. Instead of dwelling on the memory of your grandmother’s voice, for example, you could feel irrationally, unfathomably angry that you haven’t had time to play Prey. You can take all that regret, sadness and anger and just channel it into video games. I had a long list of games to get through before December ended. I started What Remains of Edith Finch.”
At Polygon, Simone de Rochefort takes a touching look at a personal loss through the lens of a game about grief, loss, and our families’ stories.
How Shooty Skies dev Mighty Games aims to do serious games right
“The area of “serious games” or “games for change” is still a pretty new concept, certainly in Australia. We have lots of promising examples that show it can work, but you’re right, basic game mechanics don’t always achieve long term outcomes. This is why we’re aiming for long term habitual belief and value change through self determination theory. We are working with an amazing behavioral psychologist advising in this area.”
Serious games are sometimes created with good intentions but little backing from scientific research. Writing for Gamasutra, Katherine Cross talks to one studio that’s trying to do better.
Washington state senator introduces bill to determine whether loot boxes are gambling
“The bill highlights three major concerns: firstly whether games and apps containing loot box mechanics are considered gambling under Washington law; secondly whether these mechanics belong in games and apps; thirdly whether minors should have such ready access to games and apps that do feature loot boxes; and finally the ‘lack of disclosure and transparency with respect to the odds of receiving each type of virtual item.'”
GamesIndustry.biz examines new legislation that’s looking for answers about loot boxes and addiction.
This War of Mine – a game about the traumas of war
“Mental health themes run throughout this game, as you would expect from a game about war trauma. Loss is certainly a feature, as are constant threat and fear. The game is clearly trying to give the player the experience of living in an extreme environment where bad things can happen on a daily basis and where you have very little control over your life. A lot seems down to luck and the game is often deeply unfair and mean. Some characters show incredible levels of resilience whereas others don’t.”
Gaming the Mind always offers a fascinating mental health perspective on games, and this recent article on This War of Mine is no exception. It highlights the ways the game is impressively accurate in its simulation of trauma, and the ways it could do better.
How video games demonize fat people
“When I encounter the fat body in a video game, the disappointment that follows is so hot and pure that there is, as a matter of self-care, an urgent need to remove myself from the moment and get on a plane. I refuse to accept that in the world of prestige video games — AAA in industry speak — a body like mine and those of the people I love and admire, can only exist in one of two ways: a cheap laugh or a site of disgust, usually both.”
The Outline shares this powerful reminder of the ways so many video games fail people in their audience by representing them in thoughtless, harmful ways. Don’t miss it.
And with that, we’re off. We’ll return Monday with more great stories. While we’re offline, why not check out Sunday’s stream from Geeks4Good, who are currently raising funds for Take This?
Until next week, take care of yourselves — and each other.