Posted

How research into psychosis is shaping Hellblade’s dark fantasy world

New video shows how Ninja Theory plans to deal with mental illness

Hello PlayStation fans, Dom Matthews here from Ninja Theory with a new development diary video from the creation of our forthcoming PlayStation 4 title Hellblade.

In our new diary, No.14 in the Hellblade open development series , we discuss how our research into experiences of psychosis is bringing new perspectives to the creative process as we strive to build Senua’s world.

Ninja Theory Chief Creative Ninja, Tameem Antoniades, gives his thoughts below on the power of games to take players into worlds outside of their own:

“It has been said that there is no more powerful medium than film to portray the experiences of another character. Whoever said that doesn’t play games. When playing a good game, the player enters a state of trance, losing all sense of themselves and falling into a world of visuals, sound and story that is unlike any other medium.

“When you reach a state of total immersion, you are in the zone and ordinary day-to-day existence vanishes. It feels like there is a direct link deep into our mind and it is here that we are moved.

“When you think about it, each game is a fantasy world, with its own rules which we willingly immerse ourselves in, making moment to moment decisions against difficult challenges.

“We at Ninja Theory love creating worlds and characters that mean something to people. With Hellblade, the idea is to portray a fantasy world unlike any other. This game’s fantasy is not based on the familiar myths of Tolkien, George Romero or Ridley Scott.

“It is based on an entirely different fantasy created by ordinary people all around us who have an extraordinary ability to see and hear things most of us cannot. Sometimes what they see and feel is beautiful, and sometimes it is devastatingly dark. Some have described it as a waking hell.

“The condition reveals the inherent power of our minds to create rich and vivid worlds. It is an ability we all have and we bear witness to its power every time we dream.

“What could it be like to step into the shoes of someone who is seeing and hearing hallucinations beyond their control? In all likelihood it can never be faithfully represented, but we feel that games can get us closer than other media.

“Ultimately, Hellblade will be a story-driven fantasy game and those familiar with our games will feel at home. But we hope to delve deeper into the mind of Senua than any of our previous characters and give you a glimpse into an entirely different kind of fantasy.”

Hellblade will be available for PlayStation 4 in 2016. You can follow the on-going Hellblade development journey at Hellblade.com and by following @ninjatheory on Twitter or at Facebook.com/ninjatheory

7 Comments
0 Author replies

I know this is totally unrelated to the topic, but I wish I could change my PSN Logo without having to find a PS3 and do it. It’s always that little watermelon!

1.1

Be watermelon, my friend. – Bruce Lee

You don’t have to have mental health issues to see the world, the wall, back of your hand melt…that is easily attainable by taking LSD. If you want to experience that outside of hallucinogenics you can stare at the icons on the vita screen pulsating or stare at a moving black and white spiral for a minute then look at the back of your hand.

Not everyone who has mental health issues experiences psychosis. There are a plethora of mental health conditions that are just as disabling as someone suffering from schizophrenia. In New Orleans my neighbour was schizophrenic and he was far more able to deal with the world as he was out of his mind on Haldol as opposed to a bipolar guy in England I know who is sectioned every summer (like clockwork). The bipolar guy in a manic state is far more aggressive than my neighbour ever was not to mention that bipolar guy is so violent he keeps being put in ever more secure units each time he is sectioned. The only way I can even deal with the guy in E...

Show full comment

You don’t have to have mental health issues to see the world, the wall, back of your hand melt…that is easily attainable by taking LSD. If you want to experience that outside of hallucinogenics you can stare at the icons on the vita screen pulsating or stare at a moving black and white spiral for a minute then look at the back of your hand.

Not everyone who has mental health issues experiences psychosis. There are a plethora of mental health conditions that are just as disabling as someone suffering from schizophrenia. In New Orleans my neighbour was schizophrenic and he was far more able to deal with the world as he was out of his mind on Haldol as opposed to a bipolar guy in England I know who is sectioned every summer (like clockwork). The bipolar guy in a manic state is far more aggressive than my neighbour ever was not to mention that bipolar guy is so violent he keeps being put in ever more secure units each time he is sectioned. The only way I can even deal with the guy in England is locking myself in the bathroom popping diazepam like tic-tacs until he is gone.

The key is taking their meds and having people around to make sure they are taking their meds. The schizophrenic guy didn’t want auditory or visual hallucinations. The bipolar guy stops taking his meds as he wants to be “happy”

One could argue that PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is the most debilitating as left untreated it spirals into having other issues especially self-destructive behaviours that others can’t deal with. It’s not just war veterans but other people who have suffered abuse as children or adults that have PTSD. Some people with PTSD can’t even have therapy as crisis teams feel it could bring about more damage…at best they medicate the person into a state of numbness and at worst the person kills themself.

I don’t know. Those seem like rather special forms of psychosis? Won’t people start thinking psychosis is some fun carnival attraction? What about the subtler, way scarier elements, like slowly losing control, like feeling trapped in a small compartment of your own mind, while something huge and dark takes over and you can only watch and scream, but those screams never reach the outside? I don’t know, just a thought.

EmperorLawlight 25 August, 2015 @ 00:10
4

What about the gameplay though?

residentSteve 25 August, 2015 @ 06:19
5

I like ninja theory other games but these just seems boring so far.

6

I assume any internal adversity the main character is dealing with is ameliorated by picking up a weapon and killing nearly everything that moves whilst possibly solving a few puzzles and managing inventory?

While it is admirable that you’re giving people with mental health issues a venue to discuss their struggles, I find it quite exploitative and irresponsible to distill their ideas into the experience of a protagonist which will deal with her problems by killing her way to victory and release.

We close the comments for posts after 30 days.

Edit history