Game Development As A Form Of Therapy

I spent this weekend at the Indie Games Collective conference in London which was a fantastic two-day event jam-packed with talks about all things to do with gaming, which tools to use, how to effectively talk to the press, marketing, kinaethestics, using the body in game design (my favourite!). Basically anything to do with game development, there was a talk about it.

One talk really stuck with me more than the others. Louise James talked about how just about all of her game development work came from Twitter and she did a really good job of driving the point of how to use Twitter effectively. Now, as some of you may already know, I’ve not got the best track record for using Twitter effectively. More often than I should, I end up spouting rants about things that really shouldn’t be on there. I usually come to my senses fairly quickly and delete said tweets. However, by then it’s too late and any potential damage is already done.

This is where I had the (hopefully) great idea of using game development as a form of therapy. I’ve never been one who can talk frankly about various personal issues and so I end up bottling everything until one thing just sends me over the edge. And that’s when the aforementioned far-too-personal tweets end up happening. It’s not healthy for me, or for other people involved. And it’s sure as hell not fair on my followers. And it probably shows me in a bad light in a professional way as well.

Saturday morning, I got to the conference slightly early and begun writing notes and planning out a small game, probably to be made in Twine. Slightly fictional, but mostly autobiographical, but even just the simple act of thinking about various events in my life and applying a logical manner to them helped. And that was just with five minutes of ‘work’. The idea here is to project all of these experiences and emotions onto a fictional character and work through how they would react and cope using my own life experiences.

I hope this will become a viable form of ongoing therapy. That’s the best case scenario. The worst scenario, I end up with another game under my belt. And even though I’ve only been conducting this ‘experiment’ for a day, I encourage anyone and everyone to try this out. But please, if you are suffering at all, talk to someone. Whether that be friends, family, or a medical professional. You are not alone. This too shall pass.


2 thoughts on “Game Development As A Form Of Therapy

  1. Good idea. I started writing a few things in Twine myself as a kind of self-exploration of my past and seeking to understand and come to terms with it more. The first one is here: which I made for Ludum Dare. You’re on the right track I reckon, and I fully agree with you with the whole therapy idea. In fact, I feel this is what games need.

    I was at the IGC thing on Friday (couldn’t do Saturday), and yeah it was great. Have you heard of Game Camp? It’s awesome, and tickets have just been released.

    Anyway, be encouraged.

  2. Great work, I’ve ended up using my final project at university to explore how game worlds can offer us the opportunity to re-experience elements of our past; inspired by Gone Home, I have re-created my childhood kitchen in Unity. I agree, just thinking about old memories painful or happy in a logical methodical way can be really helpful. Please keep us updated with your progress! 🙂

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