The project, on which the British studio Ninja Theory is working, was called The Insight Project. Within its framework, a team of several developers, including Hellblade game director Tameem Antoniades, will work together with experts in the field of neuroscience and psychiatry.
Their goal is to find application for game design and video game technology to help people with mental disorders.
As an example, the Ninja Theory cited people suffering from persistent anxiety. A professor at Cambridge University, Paul Fletcher, who participated in the work on Hellblade, noted that biometric data like an increased heart rate can be displayed visually – for example, in the form of waves at sea.
You are on a ship and you need to reach it on a certain goal. In this case, you must remain calm and “calm” the sea.
Thus, you begin to control your own psychological state – you learn to restrain the physical manifestations of such emotions.
Cambridge University Professor of Neuroscience
Participants in The Insight Project emphasized that “patients” should enjoy these games — they should not seem like work or special exercises to them. Then the possible benefits will be much greater.
However, researchers and developers emphasize that they are not going to replace games with all other types of therapy. For them, this is primarily an experiment that can lead to new discoveries and more effective types of medical care.
At the moment, Ninja Theory has nothing to show as part of the project. According to Antoniades, it can take years for a studio to achieve something.
We want to prove that we can achieve success by working together with professionals and doing scientifically-supported, open and ethical research.
Maybe this will serve as an example for other people in other scientific fields. There is no one problem that we need to solve. It’s like climate change — it needs to work together at many different levels.
co-founder of Ninja Theory, Hellblade game director
At the same time, the company is supported by both Microsoft and the Wellcome Trust charity medical foundation, which has allocated a research grant.
The developers emphasize that they are not going to quit creating more traditional games – in Ninja Theory they are working on several projects at once. Moreover, working within the framework of The Insight Project can help them with this, Antoniades believes.