On Writing: Mental Illness in Video Games | a video essay

It’s only because of independent support through patreon that I can take the time to research, consult on, and write videos like this. Sponosrs just aren’t appropriate. So if you’re feeling kind, please do support me at (+Discord community access!)

Reach out for help. Your pain matters and you are not a burden, okay? It will help – RESOURCES
The Samaritans – 08457 90 90 90 or www.samaratins.org
Campaign Against Miserable Living (for men) 0800 58 58 58 or www.thecalmzone.net
Youthline – 0800 376 633 or text to 234 (New Zealand helpline) or youthline.co.nz
Crisis Text Line – text HOME to 741741 in the United States
Crisis Service Canada – txt at 45645 (Canadian helpline) or call 1833 456 4566
Lifeline Australia – call 13 11 14
The Trevor Project – call 1-866-488-7386 or text START to 678678
The South African Depression And Anxiety Group 011 234 4837
South African Schizophrenia & Bipolar Disorders Alliance 011 326 0661.
French La Conception Hospital – (+33) 491 380 000
Norwegian Ungdomstelefonen (+47) 400 00 777.
Finland: (09) 615 516 Suomen Mielenterveys
A list of mental health helpines by country:

Made in special consultation with


“Prey (2017) saved my life” by u/_morganology via Reddit
“Commitment to Meaning: A Reframing of Agency in Games” by Karen Tannenbaum & Joshua Tannebaum, Simon Fraser University (2010)
“The Potential of Serious Games as Mental Health Treatment” by Sheena M Miller, Portland State University (2015)
“Measuring actual learning versus feeling of learning in response to being actively engaged in the classroom” by Louis Deslauriers, Logan S. McCarty, Kelly Miller, Kristina Callaghan, and Greg Kestin, National Academy of Sciences
“Video games can develop graduate skills in higher education students: A randomised trial” by Matthew Barr, University of Glasgow (2016)
Scholten, H., Malmberg, M., Lobel, A., Engels, R. C. M. E., & Granic, I. (2016). A Randomized Controlled Trial to Test the Effectiveness of an Immersive 3D Video Game for Anxiety Prevention among Adolescents. PLOS ONE, 11(1), e0147763.
Cole, H., & Griffiths, M. D. (2007). Social Interactions in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Gamers. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10(4), 575-583.
The Relationship Between Video Game Play and the Acquired Capability for Suicide: An Examination of Differences by Category of Video Game and Gender” by Sean M. Mitchell, Danielle R. Jahn, Evan T. Guidry, and Kelly C. Cukrowicz, Cyberpsychology, Behaviour, and Social Networking Journal (2015)
“Relationship between Locus of Control and Suicide Attitude among Adolescents Commit Suicide Attempt” by Mona Hassan Abdel Aal , Sahar Mahmoud, & Hoda Saied, Ain Shams University (2018)
“Predictors of Health Locus of Control in Older Adults” byJacobs-Lawson, J.M., Waddell, E.L. & Webb, A.K., Curr Psychol 30 (2011):
“Video games are tackling mental health with mixed results” by Aaron Souppouris, Endgadget (2015)
“Mental illness and violence”, Harvard Medical School
“Inside the Fight Against Online Child Sex Abuse” by VICE News (2020)
“Can we Make Talking as Much Fun as Shooting? | Game Maker’s Toolkit” by Mark Brown (2019)
Dunlap, K. N. (2018). Representation of mental illness in video games. Proceedings of the 2018 Connected Learning Summit, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (pp. 77-86). Pittsburgh, PA: ETC Press.
“Gaming With Stigma: Analysis of Messages About Mental Illnesses in Video Games” by John Torous & Max Birk, JMIR Mental Health (2019)
“Trans and gender diverse young people’s attitudes towards game-based digital mental health interventions: A qualitative investigation” by Penelope Strauss, Helen Morgan, Dani Wright Toussaint, Ashleigh Lin, Sam Winter, & Yale Perry, Internet Interventions (2018)

Additional sources (

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Music by Epidemic Sound:

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  • This is where your story begins.

    It really is only because of independent support that I am able to take the time to research, consult on, and write videos on sensitive topics like this. >>> https://www.patreon.com/hellofutureme <<< My first video on mental health was demonetised, so we'll see where this one ends up. If you feel this kind of content is worth supporting, please do so at 👏🏻❤️👏🏻❤️👏🏻❤️ Otherwise, sharing it with someone you feel it may help would be amazing. Stay safe in these trying times, and maybe play some of the games mentioned here! Thank you all.


    Hello Future Me July 2, 2020 5:06 pm Reply
  • I loved watching this video just had to stop after 10 minutes. Sorry! But I love it and I thank you for making strong videos like these.

    raydogz101 July 2, 2020 5:06 pm Reply
  • can i just say I appreciate all the content you make about mental health and psychology in media. I made a comic book that is a suicide prevention superhero and I put alot of time not only with understanding my emotions but how mental health and suicide are to be persuaded in media for success.

    cory sigle-oliver July 2, 2020 5:06 pm Reply
  • I quite think this is one of the most important video you’ve made or will make. Thanks for it. Romanticizing mental illness is done in media and in real life, because of media and because of real life – they influence each other.

    I think that as creators, we should do our research well and be very careful of how we frame things. I think the underlying message should be of hope. Even if a main character declines or dies. And especially if someone in real life you know is declining or faces suicidal tendencies. Without hope, there is no future, no healing, for them or for others.

    If you who are reason this, if you are this person, please, please reach out. There are so many more accessible resources today available to you now to help you get a fighting chance at life and manage it day by day. And you may very well grow strong enough for someone else to reach out to later.

    TIFFANY PERSAUD July 2, 2020 5:06 pm Reply
  • Thank you for yet another excellent video on the topic!

    nox fox July 2, 2020 5:06 pm Reply
  • Some of the words at the end of Hellblade I carry with me almost every day. That the beauty in life is always there, just waiting, and it won't go away, no matter how hard it may be to see it.

    Pedro Scoponi July 2, 2020 5:06 pm Reply
  • I'm surprised he hadn't brought up The Cat Lady. It gets a little hard to play but it has a fascinating approach to suicidal mentality. It starts with the character actually taking her life

    someone awesome July 2, 2020 5:06 pm Reply
  • i think a game that perfectly balances mechanics and mental health help is dark souls
    the mechanics we all know about them, a harsh and extremly hard game

    but the story and lore sends a mesagge to people who are struggling with mental health issues
    first of all the obvious, in a world where its prime was loong ago, the age of fire and man is dead, you as the chosen undead can claw trough the very botom of that world, to eventually fight the lord of fire, gwyn and relink the first flame to rekindle the age of man
    you… an undead in a prison with nothing, is able to figth against the whole world against you, to relink the flame and become a god
    the game trhows everything at you to stop you, a fuck ton of monster and bosses, traps in the map, npc's stabbing your back…
    but you dont stop, the game cant stop you, you keep coming back over and over again until you win
    you kill monsters, demons and gods who are doing everything to stop your proggres. even killing an old friend consumed by the abbys, or a kind onion kigth who went hollow looking for adventures
    it empowers you to know that you can beat the gods and beat a world who tried everything to opress you

    and the other part..the hollows…
    if an undead loses the will and reasons to live, it becomes hollow
    another zombie with no mind and will of its own, a shell of what is used to be
    and almost every npc in the game says something to you.. "an remember, dont you dare go hollow my friend "
    the game is always talking to you, the player, to never give up, keep coming back to a challenge over and over again, until you beat it
    the game tells you, the player, to dont go hollow, never lose the will to live and the reason to keep trying

    so the mesagges are:
    nothing can truly stop you, you can acomplish everything even with the shitties odds againts you.

    and the most important one.. dont you dare go hollow
    ( sorry for any broken english )

    yaco princi July 2, 2020 5:06 pm Reply
  • I suffer from pretty severe social anxiety and stress induced depression (basically, if I get stressed enough, depression kicks in and makes me unable to make decisions or concentrate at all). I've used video games to focus the adrenaline spikes on tangible things for years. One game that has helped me the most is Grinding Gear Games' Path of Exile, because it's based on short instances with a clear ending. I get the 3-8 minute adrenaline spike, I deal with the threat, and then I'm done. I can move on. Everything about my character is in my hands, from skills to gear to upgrade path.
    GRIS is an extremely beautiful take on depression. It shows the player a very tangible view of what it can feel like to suffer from depression and the hopeful message that "one foot in front of the other" can actually make things better, even if it takes time. There's no push to "just smile" or "just cheer up" (or other such phrases that just do not help. At all.). All it says is "one more step forward. You can do it".

    Johey Jonsson July 2, 2020 5:06 pm Reply
  • Beautiful idea brother! Glad you shared it

    Yash Vakilna July 2, 2020 5:06 pm Reply
  • Late to the vid here, but about WoW, yep, I agree. I've been playing for 10 years, and while I keep playing for the story, I've had friendships come and go there that have helped me handle interacting with people and even getting a job out here in the real world.
    I really appreciate you covering these hard topics. I've had my own fights with mental health, but I'm doing my best to help guide a friend through theirs, and these have helped me feel like I'm not alone.
    Thanks man, and also to the patrons.

    Jakkal Jakobie July 2, 2020 5:06 pm Reply
  • You did not mention Columbine, a disaster (some say) was brought about by depression and video games. This is our complaint this is just a curiosity. Why?

    BURKE SULLIVAN July 2, 2020 5:06 pm Reply
  • I met you yesterday and you've made me cry twice. I don't cry. Good job.

    I'm drum July 2, 2020 5:06 pm Reply
  • Im struggling
    Im really struggling really

    Plz make character philosophy it just makes my sad days and horrible depression and everything else slightly easier i love it
    Today I discovered i have cognitive dissonance and im really really upset but im coping

    Matthew Snowdon July 2, 2020 5:06 pm Reply
  • Check out Nevermind. It's a game that explores the trauma or memories of characters that either can't find closure or refuse to accept the truth of their experiences.

    Donovan Glass July 2, 2020 5:06 pm Reply
  • What Remains of Edith Finch is actually portraying the experiences of maladaptive daydreaming. In this respect, it actually nails it when it comes to realism.

    Leetle Seester July 2, 2020 5:06 pm Reply
  • Okay, but does anybody knows about The Cat Lady game?

    Mar Hirsch July 2, 2020 5:06 pm Reply
  • I recommend checking out CheckPoint's series on Mental Health in video games too. Covers a bunch of the titles mentioned here and I believe they consulted on the Edith Finch scene mentioned too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1rcBjZfPcE&list=PLWIMOoB5eA6Tz4tsvwCMORPs5xfdAzOEg&index=15

    Kitty Cat July 2, 2020 5:06 pm Reply
  • Thank you

    TheCardboardStarship July 2, 2020 5:06 pm Reply
  • Your way of explaining is great and you used real sources to produce a well balanced account of an under researched topic. It's not easy to communicate such topics well, but you've done such a good job. I want to get better at this too.

    the false dwagon July 2, 2020 5:06 pm Reply
  • Tim, have you watched the movie The Silent Voice? You definitely should. Bring all the tissues.

    chavamara July 2, 2020 5:06 pm Reply
  • Journey was a phenomenal game, and I played it before I knew that I struggled with depression (because all my life I inadvertently suppressed it through playing games and exercising) and I remember at the end when you are flying up the mountain, I cried for some reason (it did have beautiful music). It was my own emotions crying out that they need this triumph – this force to push me up the mountain because secretly, I'm not strong enough to push myself to do what needs to be done. Fast forward a few years, I had relationships fall apart right in front of me (my girlfriend broke up with me, started to become scared of me for reasons I never did as it was it turns out was just rumors spread about myself, and my best friend then scarred me deeply and to this day it hasn't fully healed). I thought of Journey shortly after and that I was going through my own "valley" and needed that push to get me up that mountain, except everyone left me and I had no one left. So, I got the courage to shut out all of those people (the ones I loved and trusted) out of my life and killed that part of me. It was hard, even considering suicide at one point, but I kept pushing one day at a time. I got into a new group of friends and it took me a full year to finally have that push to get me up that mountain (I actually got a knack for hiking now) and while I occasionally look back, I am changed now and do not want to go back and it is all thanks to Journey.

    Dankest Memicus July 2, 2020 5:06 pm Reply
  • Who am I? Who are Yu…? Wait, that's me! Where am I… it's dark, but there's light. And another! Space… so cold and anxious yet out there is enough warmth for us all

    Mr. Obunga July 2, 2020 5:06 pm Reply

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