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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.
The collection of video games are available for people to play online on their web browsers on PC/Mac. People can also leave a comment and share what they think of the games.