Studio engages with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Wellbeing Hub for “truthful representation” of psychosis in game

Staff from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust’s Wellbeing Hub have shared how they collaborated with game makers for the development of a video game following a character experiencing psychosis, in order to achieve “truthful representation” of the condition.

The game, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, follows the titular character and “offers players a glimpse into the lived experience of those with psychosis”. In order to achieve this, the development team of studio Ninja Theory undertook research and collaboration with CPFT’s Wellbeing Hub, engaging with people with personal experiences of the condition.

Emma Taylor, recovery lead at the Wellbeing Hub, commented that whilst experiences of psychosis can be discussed, being able to experience the condition through a virtual character “can be a real way to open that conversation and begin to understand where that person’s coming from.”

Peer support worker Eddy Maile added that the game gives players an opportunity to see the motivations of a character experiencing psychosis and as such better understand the reasons why they might act in a certain way. He added that another “valuable” aspect of representing psychosis in this way is that that people can often feel forgotten or left out, whereas the game places Senua as the main character and hero.

Eddy said that he can vouch for Senua’s experiences as “looking, sounding and feeling authentic. The game takes me to those places; the experiences I have had in a way that’s very real. I think that’s a success.”

Dom Matthews, studio head at Ninja Theory, stated: “It has struck me just how profoundly impactful our collaboration has been. Through our collaboration, not only was the game critically well received, but it’s been held up as somewhat of a triumph in a representation of lived experience.”

Emma shared hopes that the game ultimately has “a huge amount of value” in opening conversations and de-mystifying the condition.

In other news around digital and psychosis, we recently shared early guidance assessment from NICE on three technologies designed to manage symptoms of psychosis and prevent relapse in adults and young people.

Earier in the year, we also highlighted a positive Early Value Assessment for VR tech to support psychosis patients.