Currently, there are 6.7 million Canadians living with mental illness — this translates to 1 in 5 Canadians that will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime. There are an increasing number of initiatives and campaigns centered around raising awareness and a bigger strive to create the network for people struggling with mental illness. The game industry has not touched upon creating something for this group and our team is here to bring a new game to the industry.
How might we raise awareness and foster a care network for people struggling with mental illnesses and induce positivity to their life and motivate peers to support one another?
This project was created for Game Dev in a Day, a 2 day game hackathon hosted by the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus. The challenge presented was “Build a game for mental health, well being, or fitness and livability in the city of Stratford.” My team and I learned how to build a game using Unity from scratch within the 2 days, and our vision to create a cooperative community where players learn how to support one another in order to foster a healthy society together placed us second in the competition.
Our team decided to create a cooperative community where players learn how to support one another in order to foster a healthy society together. Only by working, understanding together will encourage communities to be more supportive of people with mental illness, and for those who are struggling to understand that there are people around who support them.
— Ideation for Gaming
Our team had many ideas and mechanics for the game so we listed them out and then we eliminated it based on a reasoning and voting system.
— User Group / Target Audience
Our goal is to teach high school and university students how to be more supportive of people struggling with mental illness. Teenagers in these categories are more likely to have a deeper exposure to gaming.
From our ideation phase, we refined the selection and used it as the framework for our game.
The user must collect a certain amount of power-ups, represented by icons of healthy decisions and encouraging messages, and avoid collecting power-downs, represented by icons of unhealthy choices and harmful sayings. The goal is for the user and six of their friends to gain a full health bar together. The game challenges the player to move at a rate that allows their friends to follow them and not get too far ahead. This represents how people need to slow down and support their friends and loved ones rather than leaving them to deal with their issues alone.
— Game Flow
Below is the game flow crafted to be simple, informative, and intuitive for the user’s game play.
DESIGN + DEVELOPMENT
— Style Guide, Interactions, Gameplay Rules
I created the game play, rules, and interactions for the project. I worked closely with the developer of the game to ensure the gameplay is smooth and interactions are clearly understood by the user.
— User Testing
After the first prototype launch, we completed four user tests to improve our product.