Facing the Darkness: Video Games That Tackle Mental Illness

With the World Health Organization (WHO) recently classifying compulsive video game playing as a mental health condition they have dubbed “Gaming Disorder,” video games and their addictive nature continue to be a concern for parents, caretakers, and anyone who has a loved one that loves video gaming. Recent studies have revealed links to video games have to depression and anxiety, which continue to create a certain stigma with this medium that attracts so many young individuals from different walks of life.

Still, as this medium grows and is exposed to newer generations and audiences, some video game developers have decided to tackle the issue of mental health, to help gamers understand them on a deeper level and increase overall awareness. Are there video games that can actually help create higher insight around depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions, rather than simply existing for pure entertainment? There certainly are!

Check out the best video games that help tackle the issue of mental illness.

Depression Quest

With a name like Depression Quest, the game obviously addresses the mental health issue of depression.

Developed by Quinnspiracy Studios, this game centers around a character who deals with depression while going about their day-to-day routine. Players are given different decision trees, where they are offered choices on what to say or how to react within various daily situations.

Depression Quest is free to play, with a model that allows gamers to pay what they want (if they so choose). Proceeds are donated to the U.S.’s National Suicide Prevention Line. Gamers can access Depression Quest on Browser, Windows, OS X, and Linux

Alice: Madness Returns

Developed by Spicy Horse Studios and published by Electronic Arts, Alice: Madness Returns follows the famous Alice we have all grown to know and love from the Alice in Wonderland book series. But with a dark twist as our heroine has just been released from a psychiatric clinic.

Continuing from where the original left off, Alice heads back to Wonderland to find out who was behind her family’s murder; however, Alice does not visit Wonderland at all. In fact, the game centers around the fact that she suffers from hallucinations, and the goal of the game is for the player to decipher what is in Alice’s mind and what is reality.

Alice: Madness Returns is available for game play on PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Xbox One for approximately $19.99.


Pry allows gamers to witness, first-hand, the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experienced by army veterans through an interactive text-based game. Players are presented with a variety of texts and pictures where they must zoom into the text as an effort to open up new information bites. As the game progresses and nears its end, players look at images and videos, as they start to get blocked out of other images and texts; all in an attempt to show the gamer what PTSD really looks like.

Pry can be purchased on the App Store for a mere $2.99.

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