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Posted by SpaceInsomniac (5953 posts) 3 years, 6 months 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.

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#1 Posted by falserelic (5770 posts) -

For me doesn't bother me. Though I'm sure other people would have an issue with it, besides I've met quite alot of people that was real fucked up in the head in my life.

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#2 Edited by Gamer_152 (14480 posts) -

Offence and stigma are two very different things, the poll here conflates them. The article isn't talking about offence at any point, it's talking about the stigma surrounding a lot of mental health, and creating games dealing with mental health that are more human and true to life. No, people don't think people with OCD are going to murder them, but that's an extreme example. Mental health issues are a hugely affecting thing in society, but negative ideas and misinformation still plague the public perception of them in a very deep way. We know that media has a great influence on what people think overall, and in this case specifically a lot of peoples' primary point of reference for mental health has been what they've seen in movies, films, books, etc. I think it's very important that people go out of their way to make people empathise with those who are suffering and are often given the short end of the stick in media.

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#3 Posted by SpaceInsomniac (5953 posts) -

Offence and stigma are two very different things, the poll here conflates them. The article isn't talking about offence at any point, it's talking about the stigma surrounding a lot of mental health, and creating games dealing with mental health that are more human and true to life.

It's actually talking about creating a horror game that doesn't seem to even touch the subject of mental health, not creating games that deal with mental health in an accurate way, which could be far more interesting, but likely wouldn't be in the horror genre that this game jam is centered around.

And while I agree that offence and stigma are different things, what I was going for in the poll was the thought that if something egregiously contributed to a stigma / stereotype, that would naturally cause some people to be offended.

But I'm open to suggestions. What rewording of the poll would you suggest?

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#4 Posted by TobbRobb (6087 posts) -

But mental health is such an easy excuse. And the illusion of "this could be real" is just about the only thing that actually brings fear out of people anymore. Damn you, don't take away my cheap horror!

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#5 Edited by TruthTellah (9809 posts) -

I'm occasionally bothered by how some games(and media in general) contribute to the stigma surrounding mental illness, but I'm not sure I'd say I'm ever truly offended at a particularly egregious example. It's more like I'll look at a larger trend and bemoan that there couldn't have been a better way to achieve a similar effect. We still have very serious issues with people understanding and not simply fearing or feeling shame about mental illness, and while I'm not sure how much games are contributing to that stigma, many games do seem to reinforce some misconceptions that could contribute to the issue overall.

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#6 Posted by Brodehouse (10827 posts) -

I prefer using the mentally disturbed as my dangerous oppressor entity rather than ghosts or evil spirits or demons. One is at very least real and present. A story where the antagonist is Vince Li chasing you through a field is a little more true-to-life than one where skeleton creatures rise out of the ground and have to be killed with your magic crossbow.

I'm completely fine with using the mentally, or at least socially, disturbed as my horror antagonist. But I would like more non-horror games or stories that depict mental illness as occurring in 'regular' characters, and it's merely a facet of their character rather than the entire reason for that character to exist.

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#7 Posted by Gamer_152 (14480 posts) -

@spaceinsomniac said:

@gamer_152 said:

Offence and stigma are two very different things, the poll here conflates them. The article isn't talking about offence at any point, it's talking about the stigma surrounding a lot of mental health, and creating games dealing with mental health that are more human and true to life.

It's actually talking about creating a horror game that doesn't seem to even touch the subject of mental health, not creating games that deal with mental health in an accurate way, which could be far more interesting, but likely wouldn't be in the horror genre that this game jam is centered around.

And while I agree that offence and stigma are different things, what I was going for in the poll was the thought that if something egregiously contributed to a stigma / stereotype, that would naturally cause some people to be offended.

But I'm open to suggestions. What rewording of the poll would you suggest?

You're right, I misinterpreted the article. I stand by the rest of what I said though. Negative stigmas and stereotypes can of course offend people, but obviously just because one thing can lead to another thing, it doesn't mean we can conflate those two things. Saying a group of people is stigmatised also isn't the same thing as saying people who associate with them are going to have extreme fears about them. There are also many delusions and stigmatisations about people who have mental health issues that don't involve physical violence. Some people think they may be emotionally abusive, not recognise that they're human like everyone else, have delusions about what being mentally ill means, frame them as an other etc.

I don't think the wording of the poll specifically is my issue with this, but it's the combination of the title and the poll with what you've written and linked below. If you want to ask whether people are offended by mental health stereotypes in games, that's fine. If you want to ask whether people think mental health stereotypes in games help stigmatise mental illness, that's fine too. But the way you have titled this and made the poll talking about offence, but then linked off to that article and written a little about fear of the mentally ill and stigmatisation of mental illness is a bit dissonant, and makes it look like the article is talking about something different than it is. Keep in mind I'm saying this half as a mod and half as just a dude.

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#8 Edited by Little_Socrates (5844 posts) -

Games are still always so all-or-nothing that they depict "oh he's depressed" as "his son died when he could have saved him and now he's a serial killer" or "she's so torn apart by her husband cheating that she developed a split personality." Basically, games don't really depict realistic mental health issues. I'm not offended because most video games are laser focused on whatever the absolute craziest and most intense thing is happening in that world at that moment.

That said, games have very touchingly approached more realistic depression and mental fatigue a few times I can recall. Drake's scenes of absolute defeat in Uncharted 3 (especially the one where he lies his head cradled in Elena's lap) are understated. Isaac's resignation at the first credits roll in Dead Space 2 is powerful, even if it's undercut by the game's longstanding depiction of marker-caused schizophrenia as well as the fact that the poetic ending is actually a fake-out.Depression Quest remains one of my game of the year frontrunners for its powerful and truthful replication of depression. So for every The Last of Us, Heavy Rain, and Deadly Premonition, we occasionally get a Persona 4 or The Witcher 2. That's good enough for me.

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#9 Posted by AlexanderSheen (5150 posts) -

Constantly! I can't play a video game without getting offended by something.

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#10 Posted by Firepaw (3053 posts) -

As someone with several mental health issues, I can't say I have been offended by something like that in video games.

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#11 Posted by flasaltine (2385 posts) -

Yes. Especially in Gone Home. They act like homosexuality is NOT because of a mental disease but is completely normal. Can you believe the audacity of the developers? God...

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#12 Edited by jonano (405 posts) -

I'd love to see a Game Jam where you have to make a scary game without using stupid jump scares.

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#13 Posted by jonano (405 posts) -

I'd love to see a Game Jam where you have to make a scary game without using stupid jump scares.

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#14 Posted by Zekhariah (700 posts) -

I don't think mental type issues are unique in terms of being poorly represented in media, although its also not convincing to me that the most pressing part of entertainment media is to accurately inform in this kind of topic.

The more upsetting part, to me, is how poorly the US helps people with serious issues - in my city the people with serious problems pretty much all end up living under a bridge and riled up at a very crazy nearby Church ("the city if full of evil vermin that must be purged...." style place).

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#15 Posted by Darji (5412 posts) -

As someone with several mental health issues, I can't say I have been offended by something like that in video games.

But you nhave no say in this. People who are offended are most of the time not even the people it affects directly but people who thinks that is what the world not needs xD

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#16 Edited by AssInAss (3254 posts) -

No, not yet. Can't think of a really bad example.

Depression Quest was excellent in conveying the subtleties of depression, and there was no sugar coating about the recovery process. It's probably one of the most important games in such a discussion, even though it's just a text adventure game.

Neverending Nightmares will be dealing with OCD and depression, which Polygon did an article about which is worth reading. It also has a free demo out, while the kickstarter is going.

Fran Bow will also be dealing with similar things, also has a free demo worth checking. Their indiegogo campaign just finished successfully.

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#17 Posted by SomeJerk (4077 posts) -

As somebody surprised he was found clinically sane, no.

But outside of games, even in the field of medicine, plenty to be offended about. Maybe it's just the medical language in Sweden but every mental non-normality is called a disorder, if we found and diagnosed ESP it would be a called a disorder.

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#18 Edited by Nekroskop (2831 posts) -

Warriors of Social Justice! Assemble!

Yet another non-issue concerning video games. It's like we're regressing backwards in development. If people want video games to be considered art, they should not concern themselves with being outraged at the message the developer wants to convey.

(Sexism not pictured.)
(Sexism not pictured.)

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#19 Posted by TheManWithNoPlan (7008 posts) -

Yes. Especially in Gone Home. They act like homosexuality is NOT because of a mental disease but is completely normal. Can you believe the audacity of the developers? God...

Just a heads up, sarcasm doesn't come across very well in text, but If you're serious then....

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#20 Edited by JazGalaxy (1638 posts) -

Warriors of Social Justice! Assemble!

Yet another non-issue concerning video games. It's like we're regressing backwards in development. If people want video games to be considered art, they should not concern themselves with being outraged at the message the developer wants to convey.

(Sexism not pictured.)
(Sexism not pictured.)

Videogames regress backwards every 5 years or so, when younger gamers start talking about "games as art" and refuse to acknowledge games that came before they decided to start paying attention.

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#21 Posted by JazGalaxy (1638 posts) -

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...

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#22 Posted by Jimbo (10472 posts) -

ENCHANTMENT!

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#23 Posted by Nekroskop (2831 posts) -
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#24 Posted by JouselDelka (979 posts) -

I'm offended by people who get offended by everything. It offends me that we belong to the same species.

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#25 Posted by TheManWithNoPlan (7008 posts) -

I'm offended by people who get offended by everything. It offends me that we belong to the same species.

No Caption Provided

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#26 Posted by Brodehouse (10827 posts) -

@jimbo said:

ENCHANTMENT!

Arguably the most offensive part of Sandal's treatment is the scenes where he appears in a room having killed a ton of darkspawn. Until then, it's a relatively realistic character, he's simple and his guardian takes care of him. And it's actually occasionally touching.

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#27 Posted by VierasTalo (1339 posts) -

I've never been that offended by the way games showcase these things. I'm fine with axe murderers in games being insane. Axe murderers tend to be that. I have bigger issue with the way a lot of comedies nowadays portray mentally ill people as zany and kooky eccentrics rather than, well, people with problems. For example I'm A Cyborg But That's OK or any number of movies with Zach Galifanakakakakas have this issue.

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#28 Posted by Giantstalker (2294 posts) -

Nope

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#29 Posted by Giantstalker (2294 posts) -

Nope

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#30 Posted by BeachThunder (14578 posts) -

Not offended, but sometimes disappointed. Depression Quest is probably the best depiction of mental health in a game thus far.

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#31 Edited by jiggajoe14 (1739 posts) -

I can't think of any examples where I was actually offended or anything that was even remotely offensive in any way. However, I do not think the sole point of this game jam the article mentions is to not offend.

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#32 Edited by Strangestories (341 posts) -

I was offended by Rogue Legacy's oversimplification of mental disorders but depicting them realistically would have made it extremely complicated. Can't win either way.

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#33 Edited by SomeJerk (4077 posts) -

Alternative post:

It's you.

You are the offensive depiction of mental health issues.

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#34 Posted by Clonedzero (4206 posts) -

I'm pretty damn hard to offend. It basically has to be a personal attack with malicious intent behind it to offend me. Otherwise, who cares?

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#35 Posted by subyman (726 posts) -

We have to get over being offended at everything. Everyone's too quick to jump up "against" an issue in the US. Life's nice when you're not constantly offended.

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#36 Edited by weirdo (177 posts) -

I have psychosis and I am not offended by this, why should I? If It does a great job at representing us people with psychosis, good job, more people will understand more.

If they do a crappy job, so what? They just did a crappy job

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#37 Posted by BeachThunder (14578 posts) -

@subyman said:

We have to get over being offended at everything. Everyone's too quick to jump up "against" an issue in the US. Life's nice when you're not constantly offended.

I suppose the word 'offended' has run its course. It seems like, at this point, people invariably complain about the use of the word 'offended' whenever it's used. Let's try this instead: "In terms of video games, mental health is something which could be depicted in better ways. I think that developers, as a whole, should actively strive to portray mental health in a more positive and realistic manner."

There; we've made the point we're trying to make without using the much-maligned word, 'offended'.

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#38 Posted by Milkman (18913 posts) -

Do people on this forum even read these threads or do they just see the word "offended" and rush in to say "NOTHING IS OFFENSIVE STOP BEING OFFENDED *PICTURE OF STEPHEN FRY*"?

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#39 Posted by Oginam (459 posts) -

The only time I get "offended" is when the depiction is factually incorrect. That feeling extents beyond mental illness to any type of disease or condition though. For example, as I am narcoleptic I get really tired of people using that as short hand for "falling asleep a bunch" (kind of the opposite of insomnia). Narcolepsy is much more akin to epilepsy - except the seizures can be very frequent (dozens per day), you become paralyzed (a function of actual sleep) instead of having muscle spasms, and you have extremely vivid nightmares and sleep hallucinations; among other issues, like Cataplexy, which is also no joke and I personally think has been worse to deal with than the narcolepsy in some ways.

I don't really get offended, I just think it's incredibly poor writing/commentary from someone who doesn't know any better.

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#40 Posted by Animasta (14903 posts) -

@milkman said:

Do people on this forum even read these threads or do they just see the word "offended" and rush in to say "NOTHING IS OFFENSIVE STOP BEING OFFENDED *PICTURE OF STEPHEN FRY*"?

this is what I was going to say too; like one person in the thread said they were mildly offended at rogue legacy, that is not everyone, stop saying that as if everyone in the thread was offended you idiots

also I hate that stephen fry image macro with every fiber of my being.

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#41 Edited by Veektarius (6101 posts) -

I'm not offended by the portrayal of mental illness. Mental illness may not lead to homicidal rage in most cases, but it's a good explanation for it when it does occur. The bigger problem is that mental illness is a narrative crutch for a) making an antagonist unredeemably evil and b) foregoing a proper motive for his behavior. I know in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,

I was extremely pissed off when all of the main characters' diligent research into the family dynamics on the island and various political motives turned out to be a waste of time because the real motive was "Oh, that dude was a psychopath."

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#42 Posted by spilledmilkfactory (2067 posts) -

I've often thought about how inaccurate/manufactured a lot of the mental health issues represented in video games are, but never been offended by it. More of a curiosity.

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#43 Edited by awesomeusername (4606 posts) -

Yes. Especially in Gone Home. They act like homosexuality is NOT because of a mental disease but is completely normal. Can you believe the audacity of the developers? God...

Well, thanks for ruining the game for me. I think.

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#44 Posted by Nekroskop (2831 posts) -

@flacracker said:

Yes. Especially in Gone Home. They act like homosexuality is NOT because of a mental disease but is completely normal. Can you believe the audacity of the developers? God...

Well, thanks for ruining the game for me. I think.

You can just download the parody .wad for Doom. It's a much better game and it's free!

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#45 Edited by mlarrabee (3849 posts) -

I haven't played enough games that handled mental health at all, let alone poorly, to ever be offended by its portrayal.

But on the topic of offense, there is nothing wrong with someone saying, "That offends me." That is, if they are only stating their feelings on an issue. Responding with, "Screw off, no-one cares that you're offended," just shows you to be a self-absorbed twit. Dismissing their opinion is a theoretically reasonable option only if they're saying, "That offends me, destroy it immediately."

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#46 Posted by GreggD (4595 posts) -

The only one I can think of was the autistic brother in that Mass Effect 2 DLC, I believe it was called Overlord.

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#47 Posted by flasaltine (2385 posts) -

@nekroskop: Where can I find this parody doom wad?

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#48 Edited by Nekroskop (2831 posts) -

@flacracker said:

@nekroskop: Where can I find this parody doom wad?

Can't really link you since it might be offensive to some people(I've gotten warned for less). Just google 'Gone Home .wad parody'. There's also an LP of it on youtube. Might be easier to do since it's got the same length as Gone Home.

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#49 Posted by flasaltine (2385 posts) -

@nekroskop: I know how to google search and I can't find anything about it even by searching with your terms.

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#50 Posted by Nekroskop (2831 posts) -

@nekroskop: I know how to google search and I can't find anything about it even by searching with your terms.

Can't really help you. The mods are watching this closely.