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Michelle Chen’s Mental Jam is a collection of video games co-created with young people about their lived experiences of depression and anxiety.
Video games offer interactive and immersive experiences that can inspire players to gain knowledge of the lived perspectives of others. Produced by the artist in collaboration with people with lived experience of depression and anxiety, this project shares their stories and invites us to explore the ways that games can express these experiences.
The game collection includes ’Counter Attack Therapy’, which sees a humanoid cat named Alex who is struggling with depression, ’Amour de Soi’ in which an anxious girl learns to love herself following a break-up, ‘Anyo’, in which users face their own monsters and bring colour back to your world and lastly, ‘Sink/Swim’, which portrays depression through metaphor.
Image: Mental Jam, Michelle Chen. Courtesy of the artist and RMIT First Site Gallery.
Michelle Chen is a game developer with more than 10 years experience in programming, design and production. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Design, developing video games about mental health at RMIT University. She was also named one of GameIndustry.biz 100 Future Talent, who have presented her works at industry and academic conferences such as Games for Change Asia Pacific, Freeplay Independent Games Festival, Games Connect Asia Pacific and ArtsIT EAI Conference.
Mental Jam is a PhD research project, conducted at RMIT University which is interested in understanding people’s experiences of depression and anxiety. We develop video games about the lived experiences of depression and anxiety as a form of knowledge translation to promote empathy and mental health awareness in the community. People with lived experience of mental illness have used different artistic mediums to portray their stories as a form of self-expression and to raise community awareness. Video games offer interactive and immersive experiences that can inspire players to gain knowledge of the lived perspectives of others. The research project provides a venue for young people with lived experience of depression and anxiety to share their stories, learn new game development skills and work together to develop video games through game jam workshops.
Before clicking the link to access the games, please think carefully about whether the time is right for you to engage with these games. The games include accounts of depression and anxiety. If for any reason you aren’t in the right frame of mind to play these, you may decide not to play. If anything in this content distresses you, please contact the following support lines.
Mental Health Services and Helplines (Australia)
Lifeline – 13 11 14
Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636
Suicideline – 1300 651 251
Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety Helpline – 1300 269 438 or 03) 9886 9377
Kids Helpline (5 to 25-year-olds) – 1800 551 800