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Posted by SpaceInsomniac (3649 posts) 11 months, 25 days ago

Poll: Are you ever offended by depictions of mental health issues in games? (205 votes)

Quite often 5%
Very rarely, but sometimes 11%
I can only think of one or two examples 14%
No, I've never been offended by depictions of mental health issues in a game 70%

http://www.joystiq.com/2013/09/01/asylum-jam-aims-to-instill-horror-without-mental-health-stereoty

Asylum Jam, a 48-hour game jam scheduled for October 11, will focus on developing horrifying experiences without contributing to the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Participants are to avoid the implementation of asylums, psych wards, medical professionals and insane patients in their submissions.

Concerning the jam's importance, its site references the World Health Organization's report that one in four people worldwide "will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives." The involved press release states that Asylum Jam is intended to show "that you can still create a great horror experience without using inaccurate stereotypes."

Are there really people who play a game or watch a movie about some deranged ax murderer who has escaped from a mental institution, and then they suddenly think that their obsessive compulsive neighbor is going to kill them?

I think just about everyone realizes that the vast majority of people with mental health issues are not usually violent. When I think about examples of things that might be actual causes of the stigma that surrounds mental health issues, movies or video games in the horror genre isn't anywhere near my thoughts.

I guess some might disagree, but I'll be interested to see the results of this poll.

#51 Edited by TwoLines (2795 posts) -

Who. Cares. People are freaking offended by everything nowadays. Jeez.

#52 Posted by ToTheNines (710 posts) -

No, I choose not to be offended by much really. But then again, I have no personal experience with mental health issues. Other than mild depression I guess.

#53 Edited by fisk0 (4028 posts) -

I don't think I've played any game making any attempt to depict mental health issues beyond really vague "these people are insane" stuff. I guess something must've been made that spreads the false idea of what schizophrenia is, as that's probably the most common thing that is specifically named in movies and such (while I'm sure there exist games that do it, none come to mind).

#54 Posted by RonGalaxy (3100 posts) -

I guess people are allowed to be offended by anything. Doesn't make it matter any more or less, unless they do something about it (besides complain)

#55 Posted by Flacracker (1654 posts) -
#56 Edited by LackingSaint (1786 posts) -

Most books, movies and songs also don't coherently portray mental illness as a real issue. As it turns out, you need a talented writer with a proper understanding of a topic to be able to tell a proper story about it.

#57 Edited by HerbieBug (4212 posts) -

Nope.

#58 Posted by KentonClay (246 posts) -

The only thing I'm offended by are myopic nerds who are too socially crippled to understand why people might take issue with the way that something is typically portrayed in media. (Unless it's a thing DIRECTLY relates to them, of course; like the mainstream media negatively stereotyping people who play video games)

#59 Edited by ll_Exile_ll (1582 posts) -

Just because 99.9% of people suffering from mental health issues are non violent doesn't meant the .1% doesn't exist. It's not like games and movies are inventing the notion that some mentally ill people do some disturbing things, and I don't think any of the games or movies that feature mentally ill antagonists are saying that every person suffering from a mental illness is a killer.

#60 Edited by medacris (648 posts) -

Yes. The following has started to get on my nerves (less so in video games and more so in real life, though):

  • Calling any mental illness "schizophrenia" even when it's completely unrelated.
  • Calling someone mentally ill who actually has a really bad hair-trigger temper/possibly a good reason to be pissed off.
  • When someone is upset and someone else makes a joke like "Oh, are you going to slit your wrists?" or "If you're depressed, we shouldn't piss you off, or you'll become a serial killer."
  • "Everything you say is invalid because you took anti-depressants in the past."

Weirdly enough, the best depiction of mental illness that I've ever seen in video games, let alone fiction period, is Psychonauts.

#61 Posted by audioBusting (1503 posts) -

It's not too bad in video games. There are many video games that depict them in enlightening ways. Psychonauts, Silent Hill, Persona, Depression Quest, etc. I feel like there are more movies and TV shows that depict them terribly.

#62 Posted by KrypticKiller (190 posts) -

"Living where there's free speech means sometimes you get offended" - Wes Mendell.

#63 Posted by DJJoeJoe (1323 posts) -

I can't remember a moment in a game I played where there were ANY mental health issues at all. Like proper ones, one could argue thugs in batman are mentally ill or whatever, but as far as proper focus on a character that HAS a mental illness other than 'you this dude is crazy'... nope, don't think I've played a game like that... and I kinda play all the video games :)

So call me when video games actually tackle an issue, and then I'll have an opinion on it.

#64 Posted by I_Stay_Puft (3196 posts) -

Probably the reason I've never been offended is because its so outlandish in video games most of the times its like a caricature similar to something you might see in a looney tunes cartoon.

#65 Edited by benspyda (2033 posts) -

I can't help but think getting offended is just a waste of energy. Just like getting into arguments on forums ;)

#66 Posted by YOU_DIED (702 posts) -

No, because it's a video game. I expect people to be able to tell the difference between fiction and reality.

#67 Edited by Lively (298 posts) -

@djjoejoe said:

I can't remember a moment in a game I played where there were ANY mental health issues at all. Like proper ones, one could argue thugs in batman are mentally ill or whatever, but as far as proper focus on a character that HAS a mental illness other than 'you this dude is crazy'... nope, don't think I've played a game like that... and I kinda play all the video games :)

So call me when video games actually tackle an issue, and then I'll have an opinion on it.

Ditto, I can't really think of games I've played where mental health is seriously brought up at all. Sure, you have your mopey emo depressed reluctant heroes, and you have your Two-Face wanna-be schizophrenics, but all of the above are so silly and comic book like that they really don't bear being taken seriously.

Now if you want to go into the realm of movies, I think you might look at low-brow Adam Sandler type movies for examples where developmentally disabled people are played for laughs, and most of the time that shit isn't even funny, because laughing at the powerless usually doesn't constitute effective humor. On the flip side, you have movies like "Radio" or "I Am Sam" which end up being saccharine Oscar-bait that kind of feels exploitative.

I'm drawing a blank right now on movies that strike a good balance of empathy and realism when it comes to mental illness, but I'm sure there are some out there. Maybe "Rain Man" and "Of Mice and Men"? (Also are we making a distinction between mental health and being developmentally disabled?).

As far as games go, it's pretty uncharted territory.

#69 Posted by geirr (2524 posts) -

I don't think videogames or any kind of media can offend me, so no.

#70 Posted by Ravenlight (8040 posts) -

I don't think I've ever really been offended by anything in a video game. Except Homefront, fuck Homefront.

Personally, I'm not offended, I just think it's bad writing.

Pretty much the only time in life I have been "offended" by it is in that Batman movie featuring Two Face and The Riddler. both of them were supposed to be "crazy", which was this awful cartoon characture of what that means. It was awful...

I literally just finished rewatching The Dark Knight. Neither of them are intended to be portrayed as "crazy." The Joker is a manic sociopath and Two Face is a man who is faced with extreme mental trauma and pushed over the edge. Say what you will about the writing or cinematography, but I found portrayals of both characters and their respective psychoses top-notch.

#71 Edited by HerbieBug (4212 posts) -

@medacris said:

Weirdly enough, the best depiction of mental illness that I've ever seen in video games, let alone fiction period, is Psychonauts.

Yes, I remember thinking Psychonauts hit pretty close to home for me in a couple areas I was not expecting. I do believe the writers on that game had personal experience to draw upon. There is an honesty there that I appreciated.

#72 Posted by BeachThunder (11828 posts) -

@medacris said:

Weirdly enough, the best depiction of mental illness that I've ever seen in video games, let alone fiction period, is Psychonauts.

Yes, I remember thinking Psychonauts hit pretty close to home for me in a couple areas I was not expecting. I do believe the writers on that game had personal experience to draw upon. There is an honesty there that I appreciated.

I played Psychonauts a fair while ago, I'm interested to hear how it handled mental illness. I remember the concept of emotional baggage, but that's all I can really think of at the moment.

#73 Posted by jewunit (1056 posts) -

I think games portray mental illness as poorly as most Hollywood films. Any mental health issue in media is generally overemphasized for the sake of drama or a particular narrative. Little or no attempt is made to portray mental illness as it occurs in society. That being said, games like Depression Quest can give you some appreciation of what living with mental illness is like. It is hard to bring a nuanced portrayal of mental illness into a video game. However, as game developers get better at telling stories within the medium, they will be able to offer more informed perspectives on mental illness.

#74 Posted by jewunit (1056 posts) -

I think games portray mental illness as poorly as most Hollywood films. Any mental health issue in media is generally overemphasized for the sake of drama or a particular narrative. Little or no attempt is made to portray mental illness as it occurs in society. That being said, games like Depression Quest can give you some appreciation of what living with mental illness is like. It is hard to bring a nuanced portrayal of mental illness into a video game. However, as game developers get better at telling stories within the medium, they will be able to offer more informed perspectives on mental illness.

#75 Posted by CornBREDX (5096 posts) -

No. I have been offended by it in movies and TV shows though. Games don't really tackle it that often other than amnesia (unless you count being a psychopath- spoilers: i dont.)

#76 Posted by SpaceInsomniac (3649 posts) -

I don't think I've ever really been offended by anything in a video game. Except Homefront, fuck Homefront.

@jazgalaxy said:

Personally, I'm not offended, I just think it's bad writing.

Pretty much the only time in life I have been "offended" by it is in that Batman movie featuring Two Face and The Riddler. both of them were supposed to be "crazy", which was this awful cartoon characture of what that means. It was awful...

I literally just finished rewatching The Dark Knight. Neither of them are intended to be portrayed as "crazy." The Joker is a manic sociopath and Two Face is a man who is faced with extreme mental trauma and pushed over the edge. Say what you will about the writing or cinematography, but I found portrayals of both characters and their respective psychoses top-notch.

You're talking about two different movies. This is the movie that jazgalaxy was talking about:

@lively said:

@djjoejoe said:

I can't remember a moment in a game I played where there were ANY mental health issues at all. Like proper ones, one could argue thugs in batman are mentally ill or whatever, but as far as proper focus on a character that HAS a mental illness other than 'you this dude is crazy'... nope, don't think I've played a game like that... and I kinda play all the video games :)

So call me when video games actually tackle an issue, and then I'll have an opinion on it.

Ditto, I can't really think of games I've played where mental health is seriously brought up at all. Sure, you have your mopey emo depressed reluctant heroes, and you have your Two-Face wanna-be schizophrenics, but all of the above are so silly and comic book like that they really don't bear being taken seriously.

Now if you want to go into the realm of movies, I think you might look at low-brow Adam Sandler type movies for examples where developmentally disabled people are played for laughs, and most of the time that shit isn't even funny, because laughing at the powerless usually doesn't constitute effective humor. On the flip side, you have movies like "Radio" or "I Am Sam" which end up being saccharine Oscar-bait that kind of feels exploitative.

I'm drawing a blank right now on movies that strike a good balance of empathy and realism when it comes to mental illness, but I'm sure there are some out there. Maybe "Rain Man" and "Of Mice and Men"? (Also are we making a distinction between mental health and being developmentally disabled?).

As far as games go, it's pretty uncharted territory.

I actually just watched Rain Man for the first time in over a decade last week, and I'll agree that it seemed to fairly accurately represent someone with mental health issues. It was a good movie without being artificially saccharine, too.

#77 Posted by EpicSteve (6479 posts) -

To be fair, it's safe to assume an axe murderer would have a long list of mental health issues.

#78 Posted by believer258 (11785 posts) -

I don't think I've ever really been offended by anything in a video game. Except Homefront, fuck Homefront.

@jazgalaxy said:

Personally, I'm not offended, I just think it's bad writing.

Pretty much the only time in life I have been "offended" by it is in that Batman movie featuring Two Face and The Riddler. both of them were supposed to be "crazy", which was this awful cartoon characture of what that means. It was awful...

I literally just finished rewatching The Dark Knight. Neither of them are intended to be portrayed as "crazy." The Joker is a manic sociopath and Two Face is a man who is faced with extreme mental trauma and pushed over the edge. Say what you will about the writing or cinematography, but I found portrayals of both characters and their respective psychoses top-notch.

The Riddler isn't in The Dark Knight.

On topic, the answer is "no". I don't have a mental health issue, though, and I've never been close to anybody that does, so I'm not really super-sensitive to the issue.