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New computer game examines challenges of living with psychosis

A company in Cambridge is developing a computer game based on the experiences of people living with psychosis.

Ninja Theory has spent the last two years speaking to people about their hallucinations so they can translate them to the small screen.

They have developed the game: 'Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice', which is now almost complete.

The protagonist, Senua, is a celtic warrior whose lover was killed in a Viking invasion.

The trauma has led her to develop psychosis - she sees visions and hears voices.

The protagonist Senua she sees visions and hears voices after suffering developing psychosis.

We spoke directly with people who either would describe themselves as having severe mental health issues or are recovering from it.

We spoke to people who hear voices, see visions and they tell us their full experience and we've been doing that throughout the development.

The people we're talking to are very excited that for once other people can see or hear what they're experiencing.

– Tameem Antoniades, Chief Creative Director, Ninja Theory
Ninja Theory's creative director, Tameem Antoniades, sought feedback from those living with psychosis. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The team at Ninja Theory developed the game in line with feedback from those living with psychosis.

Rachel Waddington began seeing visions when she was just seven-years-old.

Now, more than 30 years on, she lives with visions and voices every day.

Rachel Waddington felt it was important to make sure the game was not sensationalist. Credit: ITV News Anglia

It was really important to me that the experiences in the game were not sensationalist, weren't stereotypical. It was great they they actually listened to us.

Whilst you may say the main character has psychosis, actually her voices have a story, it all makes sense given the context of her life.

I hope that some of the young people playing the game will get curious about this thing called voice hearing or psychosis and maybe look it up.

More than that, I hope that if some young people actually do struggle with difficult voices or visions that they know that its' ok to reach out for help and talk to people because they're really not alone.

– Rachel Waddington, Lives with psychosis
It is hoped the game will help to change perceptions of mental illness.

The aim of the game is still enjoyment - but it's hoped will help to change perceptions of metal illness.

Something like a video game offers really unique opportunities to represent these experiences because the player is so immersed in it.

I've had some fairly in-depth conversations with the team about ways in which this sort of technology, whether games or virtual reality, could usefully be applied in my work.

For example, either in medical education or beyond that even in therapeutic approaches to patients with mental illness.

– Professor Paul Fletcher, University of Cambridge

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