Today is World Mental Health Day, so it's a particularly appropriate time for the inaugural edition of The International Games Summit on Mental Health Awareness (TIGS for short). The two-day event kicked off yesterday with a series of panels, including one moderated by Scott C. Jones.
Mental health in games is a focus for Jones, whose podcast, Heavily Pixelated, tells people's stories of how games helped them through difficult times in their lives. Jones' podcast and TIGS itself are fairly recent efforts, and they reflect a burgeoning understanding of the importance of mental health, both in this industry and society at large.
Three of the four panelists were developers whose own projects prominently feature mental health concerns. 2Dogs CEO and creative director Ken Hall is working on Destiny's Sword, a strategy-combat MMO where players manage the human consequences of their troops' combat experiences including addiction, depression, and PTSD. Kristopher Poulin-Thibault recently released Looking Back, a JRPG about the personal struggles he experienced in pursuit of his doctoral thesis. Embreate's Scott Nihil this week launched Wittle, a project that took comedians' personal stories of depression and adapted them into web-based games. Finally, Dr. Kelli Dunlap of TIGS partner and mental health non-profit Take This offered her own expertise.