As a departure from our usual format of reviewing games, I’d like to introduce you to a new charity, the first project released as part of the awareness program, and another game which I feel also touches upon subjects which need to be heard, despite having come out a few years ago. Almost one in four people develop some form of mental illness over the course of their life, an illness which manifests as a number of issues ranging from anxiety to depression – invisible symptoms which affect the day-to-day life of millions of people.
Every year on the 10th October, Mental Health Awareness Day is presented as a time when people reinforce the support and guidance which is out there to help people of all ages who are struggling with anything and need a little help in their life. Those affected, myself included, know that although the symptoms don’t only last for this single day (even though we would love it if they did), the extra coverage and exposure to educate and inform those who aren’t aware is a step in the right direction.
If you, or someone you know, is suffering at any time of the year, don’t hesitate in reaching out to someone you know, trained professionals, or even strangers online who are prepared to listen. Just remember, you’re not in this alone and shouldn’t have to suffer in silence although it is okay to not be okay all of the time.
Safe In Our World
As stated above, Mental Health Awareness day is October 10th each year, it’s a day in which various charities and people push awareness and information out with more intensity in order to educate people. Safe In Our World is a newly founded charity which is focusing on raising awareness among gamers and creators through that which we love the most, video games. Over half the population either play or watch others play video games, so delivering informative stories, simulating what people go through, and basically making people aware through the medium, is an initiative which will hopefully serve to inform many more people over the years.
It was founded by industry veterans in the world of gaming from key members of both the PR company Little Big PR and Wired Productions, a developer and publisher who has always been one step ahead in aiming to educate and inform us all of this terrible condition. They’re aiming to not only create more awareness of mental health but they want to remove the stigma surrounding the condition so that those who need support don’t feel afraid to ask for help. The full charter can be read in its entirety here: https://safeinourworld.org/the-mission/
I myself suffer from depression and anxiety, something I’ve kept to myself for a number of years. I’ve always felt like I have nobody to talk to or rely on, locking myself away as I play games which take me out of my reality for a brief moment of becoming someone different, someone better. As such, the following games I’m about to talk about both emotionally clicked with me, making me realise that I’m not alone and there are others out there the same as me and, more importantly, people out there to help and support everyone. Sure, people advocate about the issues and help available all the time, but seeing it play out via the medium I’ve become accustomed to hiding myself within has opened my eyes to things I don’t pick up on in other forms of awareness campaigns.
What I’m trying to say is, I believe this initiative is a great idea and us here at GamePitt.co.uk are fully supportive of everything they are setting out to achieve.
If you want to find out more about Safe In Our World, please go and:
Check out their website: https://safeinourworld.org/
and follow them on:
The first game released within the Safe In Our World Initiative is the brilliant Fractured Minds, a 2017 BAFTA Young Games Designers award-winning experience from Emily Mitchell, 17. The game was developed by the young developer as a representation of the various obstacles people encounter throughout their life due to anxiety and other mental health issues. Comprised of six chapters, this short experience will allow people to explore a thought-provoking set of situations which highlights various emotions such as depression, emptiness, anxiety and paranoia.
Whereas the game itself, if taken at face value, is clearly that of a first-time teenage developer, the emotions, thoughts and symbolism within the game clearly show that a lot of heart and creativity went into the creation. It delivers a personal experience which allows those lucky enough to not suffer from mental health issues to see things from another perspective. As I said initially, I can’t really do a standard ‘review’ on the game as I feel it’s more of an experience than something I can put a score on, an experience which will evoke different emotions and feelings with each and every person who plays it.
So, I’ll leave you with a simple statement instead; I personally encourage everyone to pick up this game either on your platform of choice, gift it to friends and family on Steam, or simply do what my friend Ade did and pick it up on multiple platforms, even though he doesn’t own them all. Why? Priced at only $1.99/£1.79, the 80% revenue received is evenly split between both Emily and the Safe In Our World charity, positively encouraging and supporting the young developer on her journey and also helping out those in need.
Here’s a quote from Emily Mitchell (@emilymgames) which further helps explain the premise behind the title:
“Fractured Minds is an immersive puzzle game that uncovers the daily struggles of people living with anxiety and mental health issues. It is designed to give the player a genuine insight into the experiences of those quietly living with mental illness – the feelings of isolation, of being trapped, of everyday situations being distorted beyond recognition.
My own anxiety has been very debilitating and I wanted to create a game that shares my experiences and provokes real discussion about this topic that is often misunderstood and rarely spoken about. It recently won the Young Game Designers BAFTA award (15 – 18 category) and now I’d love for you to play.
I realise the game is provocative and at times uncomfortable – but I felt that it was so important to be honest and true-to-life – confronting mental illness is extremely challenging and uncomfortable.
Thank you to everyone who has supported Fractured Minds. Your energy has helped to elevate support and awareness for mental health.”
— Emily Mitchell
The Town of Light
I originally played The Town of Light upon release back in 2017 but I’ve recently replayed it via PS Now on my PlayStation 4. After playing through Fractured Minds, I was feeling emotional so I thought I’d revisit this amazing narrative adventure so that I could include it within this article – it covers a lot of subjects and emotions which Safe In Our World is aiming to educate and inform us of. Also, The Town of Light is another title published by Wired Productions, showing that the subject matter is clearly something close to their hearts as this was three years before the charity was officially created.
If you’ve not played it, The Town of Light is a first-person narrative adventure in which you play through the eyes of Renée, a long-term sufferer of various mental health issues. You’ve returned to the place you spent the majority of your childhood, a (now abandoned) psychiatric asylum, as you rebuild facts and recall memories which you’ve previously blocked out due to the nature of the ‘experiences’. Back in the ’40s, when you were a young 16-year-old girl locked within these horrific walls, you ceased to exist in society, being treated as if you were nothing by those supposedly hired to protect and help you.
Recalling your feelings for a single person and a doll named Charlotte, you must explore the run-down building as you search for clues as to what became of those you loved and uncover the disgusting and horrific ways people were treated. However, don’t think of this as a ‘horror’ game, even though certain scenes and images would make you think it is, this is a deep and emotional narrative adventure in which the only ‘horror’ aspects lie within the truths you uncover.
The Town of Light is based on real events and procedures which occurred within this unholy place. At the time, some of the doctors and nurses will have thought they were doing the right thing and that the way they treated the patients was for their own good, but looking back on their actions in 2019, you can clearly tell they were simply uninformed and ignorant people. Although Renée and the named people within the game are fictional, the building itself and the events depicted within are all based upon real places and documentation which was heavily researched by the developers, LKA.
The asylum is a recreation of the Volterra Psychiatric Asylum which is located in Tuscany, Italy. The small collection of buildings once housed over 6,000 mental health patients, most of which were never seen again after they were admitted for their ‘treatments’. Thankfully, the asylum was shut down in 1978 due to the practices taking place there – this also sparked the movement to close all asylums scattered around Italy and give back the patients their civil rights as newly discovered, and more humane, treatments were provided elsewhere.
It really is a fascinating experience, roaming the halls of this disturbing place via the brilliant recreation the team have created. This, combined with the historically accurate retelling of past events and diary notes, helps create a truly memorable experience which sets out to inform as well as educate you on the state of mental health back before people took the condition seriously. If you wish to hear more about the game, in particular about Renée herself, there’s a prequel to the game which is presented as four diary excerpts which can be listened to here: https://soundcloud.com/wiredp/renees-story-episode-1
The game is out now on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, each as a standard or special edition release, with the special edition containing a ‘making of’ DVD and a brilliant 100-page art book (I was lucky enough to win a signed one a few years back). Also, if you’re playing it on PC and you own a VR headset, you can fully immerse yourself and enter the atmospheric story in Virtual Reality – an aspect I wish was available via PSVR as well. Although officially supporting TakeThis.org (another mental wellness education charity), I feel their goals are very similar to that of Safe In Our World.
I don’t have a list of games and upcoming projects from the incentive or what the near future lies in store, but I have just seen that the incredible AVICII: Invector is getting a re-release via Wired Productions on the 10th December. Originally released on the PS4 almost exactly two years ago, the game was recently delisted following the untimely death of AVICII (Tim Bergling) due to suicide brought about by mental health issues last year. Together with Hello There Games, Wired Productions are relaunching the game onto not only the PlayStation 4 but also the Xbox One and Steam, with a Switch version following in 2020.
The game itself is a solo and multiplayer mesmerising experience in which you traverse through neon-coloured worlds along to 25 hit anthems from the legendary artist. 25% of all proceeds (no matter where you buy the game) will go to the Tim Bergling Foundation (http://timberglingfoundation.org/), an advocate for the recognition of suicide as a global health emergency which promotes removing the stigma attached to the discussion of mental health issues.
If you are one of the few who suffer, you’re not alone and you don’t have to go through this on your own. As I mentioned above, there are numerous charities which you can reach out to for help and support, Safe in Our World, Take This and the Tim Bergling Foundation are all out there trying to spread awareness of the condition and educate people on helping those in need. Us here at GamePitt are always open to talk to anyone if you feel down or distressed as we know how hard things can get, especially when you feel there’s nobody out there who will listen to you.
On a side note, we were contacted earlier this year from a lady named Lisa Williams. She’s put together a list of mental health, suicide, and depression hotlines in almost every country around the world. If you are in need of talking to someone who is always there to listen and offer support, I strongly urge you to check out the comprehensive list here: https://happyhappyvegan.com/suicide-hotlines-list/
Fractured Minds and Safe in Our World:
The Town of Light: