18 – Mental Health Representation in Games

Nearly a quarter of video games depict characters with psychological disorders or symptoms of a mental illness, but research into these portrayals and their potential impact is practically non-existent. This is simultaneously troubling and an opportunity as video games are the dominant cultural form of the 21st century.  Like traditional forms of expression or storytelling, video games convey the values and beliefs of the people and societies that create them while simultaneously being a catalyst for societal change. By examining how contemporary video games depict mental illness, we develop an understanding of what stigmas and stereotypes persist in the digital space and, more importantly, how to work with clients to manage these depictions. 

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