Games that can help with your mental health [Part 1]

The continuation of my Apps series, but this time focused more on video games. This will also be an ongoing series as I go down my literature review rabbit hole.

Links to the series:

1. ReachOut Orb

ReachOut Orb is an interactive game for teaching well-being to Year 9 and 10 students. In the game, you enter a world where a negative force known that drained color from the world and you must return color to the world.

I wrote more about it here: Game Review: ReachOut Orb

  • Audience: Young People (Year 9 and 10)
  • Topic: Well-being, Positivity, Resilience


2. Shadow’s Edge

Shadow’s Edge is described as a “game designed and developed for the sole purpose of supporting young patient’s emotional health, connecting players to themselves and their peers in similar situations in a meaningful and fun way”.

I wrote more about it here: Game Review: Shadow’s Edge

  • Audience: Young People
  • Topic: Chronic Illness, Digital Art Therapy, Journaling


3. Champions of the Shengha

Champions of the Shengha is described as a “video game that respond to players’ emotions and reward those who can master them”.

It uses biofeedback technology to control the game (so unfortunately, I wasn’t able to try the game, but they have tested the game with 5 trials in schools including an RCT, and 4 in 5 trial participants were able to use techniques taught by the game to reduce physiological signs of stress).

  • Audience: Young People
  • Topic: Emotional Management Skills


4. Game to tackle anxiety by BfB Labs

The developers behind Champions of the Shengha are currently working on another game that tackles anxiety. Their mission is ” to create a low cost health tech intervention in the form of a digital game for children aged 7-12 years that uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy as a therapeutic basis.”

For the development of their game, they held co-creation workshops with games designers, CBT Practitioners, parents and teachers, which builds from therapeutic framework to creative concepts to game design.

  • Audience: Young People (aged 7 to12)
  • Topic: Anxiety, CBT


5. Life Tree

Life Tree is described as a “single player VR game in which a player controls the growth of a virtual tree by practicing pursed-lip breathing technique”. The game uses a biofeedback technology to detect the player’s breathing.

  • Topic: Breathing Techniques


6. Deep VR

Deep VR is a “meditative VR game controlled by breathing”. The game uses biofeedback technology for anxiety regulation (so, I was not able to try this game either…).

The developer also has a TED talk:

  • Topic: Anxiety, Breathing Techniques


7. SoundSelf

SoundSelf is “an ecstatic meditation experience designed for VR”.

This developer also has a TED talk (he also made a game that uses a sensory deprivation mask called Deep Sea):

The game is still in development.

  • Topic: Meditation


8. Flowy

This is a cute one that teaches a breathing technique for anxiety. Basically you breath to control your boat (this game however doesn’t use biofeedback technology).

It also allows you to keep track of your anxiety by taking an anxiety test.

  • Topic: Anxiety, Breathing Techniques


9. #SelfCare

I first heard about Brie Code’s games at the European Women in Games Conference, and she is inspirational. I learned about tend-and-befriend, where in instead of fight-or-flight, you remain calm but aware. She also encourages other developers to create art that care for each other through #carewave.

Okay, about #selfcare (yes, it comes with a hashtag), is not so much as game, instead it’s a companion app for “relaxation and helps you practice mindfulness”.

It’s beautifully pastel and calming, and I for one loves to stay in bed all day, and some #selfcare.

I particularly love the lotus flower during the breathing techniques part (Brie also incorporated it in her European Women in Games conference presentation), and it even has it’s own separate app, called BreatheLUV.

  • Topic: Mindfulness, Breathing Techniques


10. Uplifted

Uplifted is a physics platform game that addresses issues of poor self-esteem and depression among young people.

Throughout the game, it also asks you questions “designed to get them thinking about what makes them happy”.

  • Audience: Young People
  • Topic: depression, poor self-esteem, happiness, positivity


To be continued…

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