Fractured Minds – Teen Creator Brings Her Anxiety to Life
The intersection of video games and mental health is not a new topic for us here at Pop Culture Uncovered. We’ve spoken about and written about games that focus on this topic.
That’s why I want to bring attention to an indie immersive art game called Fractured Minds.
Although a short game, it’s been making big waves since it was released across multiple platforms this past week. Fractured Minds provides a beautiful experience focusing on anxiety (and mental health) designed by someone who actually lives with anxiety.
The player must find the exit to a few different rooms, sometimes requiring a puzzle but more often merely exploring and following prompts. More importantly, the level not only mirrors anxiety through its art, but the levels react to your in-game behaviors – resulting in an even more immersive experience.
An unseen voice remarks how stupid you are as you try to find the right key. Another area simulates agoraphobia as you navigate a public street.
Rooms may vary from comforting to outright horrific, but they all inspire doubt as you try to escape. Although incredibly short, the experience can either be jarring or eerily familiar.
Fractured Minds was created by Emily Mitchell, a teenager who has suffered from anxiety for years. Finding some comfort in gaming and programming, her sister suggested she enter into the BAFTA Young Game Designer’s competition.
Focusing on her experiences and mental health, Ms. Mitchell spent nine months designing the game. To her surprise, she won the competition and was approached by Wired Productions.
That encounter was how Fractured Minds became the launch title for Safe in Our World; a mental health charity that focuses on video games. The organization hopes to foster well-being and support in players and developers, as well as to see how the gaming industry can help change people’s lives.
As someone diagnosed with anxiety, this game resonated with me immediately. I went in knowing that some of the rooms might provoke an anxiety response, but it was worth every moment.
Games like Fractured Minds are valuable at providing perspective for those who’ve never experienced mental illness. They also offer a sense of being seen, as well as community, by those of us who do suffer.
I want to thank Ms. Mitchell, Wired Productions, and Safe in Our World, for promoting video games like this, as well as working toward representation and exploration of mental health disorders.
Fractured Minds is currently available on all platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Switch. Although very short, it’s worth the download at a mere $1.99, if only to show support for a brilliant designer and bring attention to a relevant charity.
I give Fractured Minds a nerve-wracking 5 keys out of 5.
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